Free Internet will be censored by 2010 in Canada

Concerns grow that Canada’s plan will wipeout alt news sites and spread to U.S.

A net-neutrality activist group has uncovered plans for the demise of the free Internet by 2010 in Canada. By 2012, the group says, the trend will be global.

Bell Canada and TELUS, Canada’s two largest Internet service providers (ISPs), will begin charging per-site fees on most Internet sites, reports anonymous sources within TELUS.

“It’s beyond censorship, it is killing the biggest ecosystem of free expression and freedom of speech that has ever existed,” I Power spokesperson Reese Leysen said. I Power was the first group to report on the possible changes.

Read moreFree Internet will be censored by 2010 in Canada

Small Banks: Billions in Troubled Construction Loans

Wall Street is bracing for regional and small banks to fess up to large losses from their mounting volume of soured construction loans made primarily to home builders.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., $45.4 billion of the $631.8 billion in construction loans outstanding at the end of the first quarter were delinquent. When banks announce second-quarter results in coming weeks, they are expected to report sharp increases in loans that builders can’t repay. Banks are also facing intensifying pressure from federal and state regulators to deal with the problem loans on their books.

WHICH BANKS WILL FEEL THE PAIN?
See a sortable list of small and regional banks with sizable exposure to construction and land loans and with notable delinquency rates.

That will put additional pressure on an already stressed financial system. Banks have begun to dump bad construction and land loans at discounts, curtail new lending and halt construction projects that are under way to preserve capital. Some analysts even see a wave of bank failures as a possibility.

Read moreSmall Banks: Billions in Troubled Construction Loans

Financial market losses could top 1,600 billion dollars: report

Geneva – The global financial crisis could lead to losses of 1,600 billion dollars for financial institutes, according a report in the Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsZeitung. It quoted a confidential study by the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates as saying losses for banks holding risky assets could be four times greater than the 400 billion dollars previously estimated.

The hedge fund expressed doubts that the financial institutes would be able to drum up enough funds to cover the losses, something it said could exacerbate the crisis. Bridgewater, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds, based its calculations on the state of risky debt-based US assets, such as mortgages, credit and credit card demands. The value of such risky assets is 26,600 billion dollars, according to the hedge fund. The losses would amount to 1,600 billion dollars if these assets were valued at market rates and not in the form of securitization, the newspaper said.

Sun, 06 Jul 2008
DPA

Source: The Earth Times

US: Total Crash of the Entire Financial System Expected, Say Experts

Investors are fleeing from the U.S. stock market, Sending the Dow to Worst June Since Depression, looking for places to secure their wealth.

There is an unprecedented cash flow of ‘hot money’, which is usually defined as short-term global speculative funds moving among financial markets in search of the highest short-term return, moving into China:
Is China flooded with ‘hot money’ because of an expected meltdown in the U.S.?

Let’s further examine the prospects that we would experience a total crash of the entire financial system:

Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks

We have seen the Dow suffering it’s worst 1st half since ‘70 accompanied by a lot of bad news for the economy like:
US: Big Trouble for General Motors, Crysler and Ford
America’s Aviation System About To Collapse
Starbucks to cut as many as 12,000 positions
And now the corporations are cheating you at the supermarkets: America’s Shrinking Groceries

The Dollar is being destroyed by the Federal Reserve, which has created in the last three years 4 Trillion Dollars of new money out of thin air: Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008

Ron Paul is further warning that: This coming crisis is bigger than the world has ever experienced
and that: We are at the beginning of a huge Dollar bubble.

The US Federal Reserve intentionally created inflation and that is why its credibility has fallen “below zero” and that is why Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles.

More dire warnings:
RBS issues global stock and credit crash alert
Morgan Stanley warns of ‘catastrophic event’ as ECB fights Federal Reserve
Central bank body warns of Great Depression
Credit crisis expands, hitting all kinds of consumer loans
How Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

Investors like Jim Rogers are telling us to “Avoid The Dollar At All Costs” and have told us that the Federal Reserve will fail and that Bernanke should be fired (alhough that isn’t possible because of his contract), because he has created the worst recession in the end and thats why he said: “Abolish the FED” on CNBC 2008.03.12.

The Fed is only doing good for the big corporations on Wall Street. If you would continuously come close to bankruptcy, because you have irresponsibly wasted your money, who will continuously give you billions of Dollars and bail you out, because you might fail? So I agree totally with Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail.

Well those corporations are said to be to “Big to Fail”, but they eventually will fail, because the entire system will fail and the Dollar is being destroyed in the process and so the people will end up with nothing, because their life savings are worthless paper. You are already paying the price for this policy, but maybe you haven’t looked at it that way:
The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008
What inflation really is, is a taxation on monetary assets. And guess who is paying for all of that?

I just love this video. A must see:
The Stock Market and the Monetary System are on the verge of collapse!

Read moreUS: Total Crash of the Entire Financial System Expected, Say Experts

Is China flooded with ‘hot money’ because of an expected meltdown in the U.S.?

Related articles and videos:
Ron Paul: This coming crisis is bigger than the world has ever experienced
Dow suffers worst 1st half since ‘70
Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles
Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs
Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008
Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhua) — China has taken a series of increasingly aggressive measures in the past several months to blunt the impact of so-called “hot money,” amid the explosive growth of its foreign exchange reserves, which have soared beyond what can be explained by trade and investment flows.

The inflows have been so massive as to raise alarms over the country’s financial security.

According to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), as of the end of May, forex reserves stood at 1.797 trillion U.S. dollars.

During the first five months of 2008, forex reserves increased by 18.7 percent year-on-year, or 268.7 billion U.S. dollars, SAFE figures showed.

Where is all that money coming from, and where is it going?

HOW MUCH IS “HOT MONEY”?

What caught the attention of analysts was that forex reserves jumped at the same time as the current-account surplus and foreign direct investment (FDI) into the fixed-asset field declined year-on-year.

Set against the increased forex reserves in the first five months of this year, there was the 78.02 billion U.S. dollars represented by the trade surplus, which was down 8.6 percent year-on-year.

Another 42.78 billion U.S. dollars was connected with FDI in the first five months, which soared nearly 55 percent year-on-year. But FDI going into fixed assets (longer-term investment), actually fell 3.5 percent in the same period.

Jiang Zheng, a macro-economist at a Beijing-based securities firm, has closely tracked these figures and analyzed the data.

Deducting the trade surplus and the FDI, there was an unexplained 147.9 billion U.S. dollars in the forex reserve increase figure, which Jiang and numerous other analysts consider to be “hot money”, which is usually defined as short-term global speculative funds moving among financial markets in search of the highest short-term return.

The government doesn’t release official figures on this category of funds; in fact, it doesn’t even use the term “hot money”. So analysts can only make estimates.

Jiang said the “hot money” figures deduced by analysts might even be underestimates. “There is a tricky decline among the FDI figures, i.e. the drop of fixed-asset investment,” he explained.

“Foreign direct investment in the first five months soared about 55 percent. But strangely, fixed-asset FDI in the first five months fell 3.5 percent from last year’s figure,” Jiang said.

Jiang said it appeared that some speculative money had managed to move into China in the guise of FDI.

But there are many other channels for “hot money” to flow into China. These include falsified international trade with over-invoiced exports and underground private banks, according to Jiang.

Jiang and other analysts maintained that as much as 600 billion U.S. dollars in “hot money” had surged into the country, most of it after 2005.

Read moreIs China flooded with ‘hot money’ because of an expected meltdown in the U.S.?

Youtube to hand over all user histories and IP addresses!

Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users’ names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Viacom wants the data to prove that infringing material is more popular than user-created videos, which could be used to increase Google’s liability if it is found guilty of contributory infringement.

Viacom filed suit against Google in March 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for allowing users to upload clips of Viacom’s copyright material. Google argues that the law provides a safe harbor for online services so long as they comply with copyright takedown requests.

Although Google argued that turning over the data would invade its users’ privacy, the judge’s ruling (.pdf) described that argument as “speculative” and ordered Google to turn over the logs on a set of four tera-byte hard drives.

The judge also turned Google’s own defense of its data retention policies — that IP addresses of computers aren’t personally revealing in and of themselves, against it to justify the log dump.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already reacted, calling the order a violation of the Video Privacy Protection act that “threatens to expose deeply private information.”

The order also requires Google to turn over copies of all videos that it has taken down for any reason.

Viacom also requested YouTube’s source code, the code for identifying repeat copyright infringement uploads, copies of all videos marked private, and Google’s advertising database schema.

Those requests were denied in whole, except that Google will have to turn over data about how often each private video has been watched and by how many persons.

Read moreYoutube to hand over all user histories and IP addresses!

Ron Paul: This coming crisis is bigger than the world has ever experienced

The following statement is written by Congressman Paul about the pending financial disaster.

He will introduce this statement as a special order and insert it into the Congressional Record next week. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to debut it first on the Campaign for Liberty blog. It reads as follows:

I have, for the past 35 years, expressed my grave concern for the future of America. The course we have taken over the past century has threatened our liberties, security and prosperity. In spite of these long-held concerns, I have days-growing more frequent all the time-when I’m convinced the time is now upon us that some Big Events are about to occur. These fast-approaching events will not go unnoticed. They will affect all of us. They will not be limited to just some areas of our country. The world economy and political system will share in the chaos about to be unleashed.

Though the world has long suffered from the senselessness of wars that should have been avoided, my greatest fear is that the course on which we find ourselves will bring even greater conflict and economic suffering to the innocent people of the world-unless we quickly change our ways.

America, with her traditions of free markets and property rights, led the way toward great wealth and progress throughout the world as well as at home. Since we have lost our confidence in the principles of liberty, self reliance, hard work and frugality, and instead took on empire building, financed through inflation and debt, all this has changed. This is indeed frightening and an historic event.

The problem we face is not new in history. Authoritarianism has been around a long time. For centuries, inflation and debt have been used by tyrants to hold power, promote aggression, and provide “bread and circuses” for the people. The notion that a country can afford “guns and butter” with no significant penalty existed even before the 1960s when it became a popular slogan. It was then, though, we were told the Vietnam War and a massive expansion of the welfare state were not problems. The seventies proved that assumption wrong.

Related articles and videos:
Dow suffers worst 1st half since ‘70
Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles
Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs
Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008
Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

Read moreRon Paul: This coming crisis is bigger than the world has ever experienced

Citigroup says long-term gold price could double or even triple

Citigroup forecasts that “gold is likely to regain $1,000/oz by end-08 and to work higher through 2009-2010.”

In their recent Gold Commodity Update, Citigroup metals analysts John H. Hill and Graham Wark also predicted that “longer term, we believe that gold is capable of doubling or tripling from current levels.”

The Citi global metals forecasts have an upward bias, at $906/$950/1000 average in 2008/09/10.

The analysts said “secular and seasonal factors favor gold” during the second half of this year. “We remain positive on gold, based on macro and supply/demand factors. The forces that have propelled gold for 5 years are firmly in place.”

During the second quarter of this year, gold has averaged $896/oz, up 34% from the same quarter of 2007 and down 3% from the first quarter of this year. “Following a series of downside fundamental tests gold appears to have found a floor, and quietly climbed back to $917/oz.”

“Despite extensive hand-wringing, the ‘floor in the dollar’ has inflicted minimal damage,” the analysts noted. “We believe the drivers of the gold bull market remain intact, heading into a favorable period.”

“We see gold as well-positioned heading into Autumn, when fabrication tends to heighten the market,” they added.

Related articles and videos:
Dow suffers worst 1st half since ‘70
Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles
Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs
Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008
Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

The Dollar is being destroyed, Wall Street is collapsing, the U.S. are broke.
Of course Gold and Silver! will double and then triple.
Gold and Silver are the only safe haven in the coming meltdown of the financial markets.
It takes an extraordinary bright analyst to come to that conclusion!
More Information here:
World Situation & Solution – The Infinite Unknown

Nevertheless, Hill and Wark warned, “It will be important for seasonal/volatility dampened fabrication demand to recover, before gold can move higher.” However, they added,” Longer term, we would not be surprised to see gold double from current levels as the global policy prescriptions for the credit crunch remain powerfully and uniformly re-flationary.”

Read moreCitigroup says long-term gold price could double or even triple

ECB raises key rate to 4.25%

FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank, spooked by soaring prices for food and fuel, raised interest rates Thursday, joining several other central banks in battling a global eruption of inflation.

The quarter-point hike, which the bank had signaled last month, had little initial effect on markets, with the euro treading water against the dollar and stocks staying relatively steady. Central banks in Sweden and Norway also raised rates this week, citing inflation. On Thursday, Indonesia raised its key interest rate for the third time this year, while India raised its key lending rate twice last month.

The Federal Reserve in the United States, where short-term interest rates are only half of those in Europe, has so far declined to join them.

The European Central Bank’s decision deepens a recent divergence in monetary policy across the Atlantic, ending a long period when it tended to follow the course set by the Fed.

But the sharp rise in inflation has put Europe’s bank into a policy bind because it has been accompanied, in recent days, by evidence that the economy here is deteriorating much like that of the United States.

Manufacturing activity in the 15 countries that use the euro shrank in June for the first time in three years, according to a survey of European purchasing managers. In Spain and Ireland, where a collapse in housing prices has magnified the problems, there is a real risk of recession.

Still, the European Central Bank, hewing to its inflation-fighting mandate, pressed on with the expected increase, moving the benchmark rate to 4.25 percent from 4 percent. Among other things, it is intended as a warning to unions not to use higher inflation as a lever to demand hefty wage increases.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Say goodbye to the Dollar and to Wall Street.
Got Gold and Silver? – The Infinite Unknown

Related articles and videos:
Dow suffers worst 1st half since ‘70
Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles
Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs
Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008
Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

_____________________________________________________________________________________

It was not clear, before an afternoon news conference chaired by the bank’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, whether the rate increase would be a one-time gesture or the start of a cycle of tighter monetary policy.

Several economists said they doubted the bank could tighten much further, given the parlous economic situation.

“The ECB is hiking at a time when confidence is plummeting,” said Thomas Mayer, the chief European economist at Deutsche Bank. “The question is, ‘what do you do when asset prices fall at the same time that consumer prices rise?’ The central bankers seem to have reached the end of the line.”

Read moreECB raises key rate to 4.25%

Why Floods Bring America To Its Knees

Related articles:
Floods may boost world food prices for years
Floods wipe out US crops
The Best Farmland in the U.S. Is Flooded; Most Americans Are Too Stupid to Panic
The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008
The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
Time to Stockpile Food?
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR

A catastrophe for Iowa farmers will not be just a catastrophe for Midwestern Americans. In the Iowa floods, we’ll see more evidence of how the problems of weird weather (climate change) combine and ramify the problems associated with Peak Oil. In this particular case they lead to an inflection point sometime around the 2008 harvest season, which will also be our time of political harvest.

These are not your daddy’s or granddaddy’s floods. These are 500-year floods, events not seen before non-Indian people started living out on that stretch of the North American prairie. The vast majority of homeowners in Eastern Iowa did not have flood insurance because the likelihood of being affected above the 500-year-line was so miniscule – their insurance agents actually advised them against getting it.

The personal ruin out there will be comprehensive and profound, a wet version of the 1930s Dust Bowl, with families facing total loss and perhaps migrating elsewhere in the nation because they have no home to go back to.

Iowa in 2008 will be an even slower-motion disaster than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Beyond the troubles of 25,000 people who have lost all their material possessions is a world whose grain reserves stand at record lows. The crop losses in Iowa will aggravate what is already a pretty dire situation. So far, the US public has experienced the world grain situation mainly in higher supermarket prices.

Cheap corn is behind the magic of the American processed food industry – all those pizza pockets and juicy-juice boxes that frantic Americans resort to because they have no time between two jobs and family-chauffeur duties to actually cook (note: reheating is not cooking).

Read moreWhy Floods Bring America To Its Knees

US: Big Trouble for General Motors, Crysler and Ford

Related articles and videos:
Dow suffers worst 1st half since ‘70
Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks
Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles
Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs
Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008
Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

Shares of General Motors are trading at prices last seen in the 1950s.

(Consider that the Dollar today is worthless compared to 1950! – The Infinite Unknown)

America’s automobile industry may be facing the biggest turnaround challenge in its history, a problem punctuated Tuesday as the carmakers released monthly sales results.

Times were tough enough in Detroit before gasoline hit $4 per gallon, but in the past two months the outlook has taken a turn for the worse.

Shares of General Motors are trading at prices last seen in the 1950s, their value cut in half in just eight weeks. Ford and Chrysler are in even worse shape, analysts say.

The sobering implication: The Big Three may have to become the Big Two, and even survivors will have a tough road ahead.

Bankruptcy is not a near-term threat, but the three carmakers are fast burning through cash reserves. And while government assistance – or perhaps an energy policy that supports new automotive technologies – could become a lifeline, it can’t substitute for the hard work of transforming product lines.


Reporter Mark Trumbull discusses the current situation for car manufacturers.

“The rate of cash usage is alarming,” says Gregg Lemos Stein, an auto analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York, which has put all three carmakers on “credit watch” to review the default risk on their debts. “They’ve never been lower than this,” he adds, referring to S&P’s current B rating on their debt.

The current debt ratings place the Detroit automakers in what’s known as “junk bond” status, below the typical quality range known as investment grade. The good news: Bankruptcy or default isn’t an imminent risk, Mr. Lemos Stein says, because the companies headed into this crisis with cash on hand.

But the credit watch, in place as of June 20, means that analysts are concerned about a deteriorating outlook.

“We believe all three companies currently have ample liquidity for at least the rest of 2008 as measured by cash balances, available bank facilities, and … unencumbered assets” that could be sold, S&P analysts said in their recent report.

The cash-flow problem could reach “undesirable” levels by the second half of next year, they said.

Read moreUS: Big Trouble for General Motors, Crysler and Ford

Europe may push the Fed to raise rates

The European Central Bank is expected to boost a key rate Thursday in order to fight inflation. The move may cause a weaker dollar and force the Fed’s hand.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The fireworks may come a day early for the financial markets if the European Central Bank, as expected, raises interest rates on Thursday.

If the ECB, Europe’s counterpart to the Federal Reserve, hikes rates, that could put even further pressure on the anemic dollar and send commodity prices even higher.

The ECB will announce its decision on interest rates early the morning of July 3 and will hold a press conference shortly thereafter to discuss the decision.

Members of the ECB, most notably its president Jean-Claude Trichet, have been talking loudly about inflation concerns in recent weeks and have hinted that a rate hike will take place at Thursday’s meeting.

If the ECB does raise rates by a quarter-of-a-percentage point, that would leave its benchmark short-term rate at 4.25%. By way of comparison, the Fed’s federal funds rate is just 2%.

Read moreEurope may push the Fed to raise rates

Dow suffers worst 1st half since ’70

Related articles and videos:

Fortis Bank Predicts US Financial Market Meltdown Within Weeks

Barclays warns of a financial storm as Federal Reserve’s credibility crumbles

Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs

Ron Paul on Iran and Energy June 26, 2008

Marc Faber: ‘Misleading’ Fed Should Let Banks Fail

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Dow and S&P 500 were little changed on Monday on the final trading day of the second quarter as record oil boosted energy shares, offsetting weak financial stocks amid nagging concerns of further credit losses.

But even with the pause on Monday, the Dow and S&P posted their worst one-month drop since September 2002. The Dow also suffered its worst first half since 1970.

The Nasdaq ended the session lower, hurt by a drop in the shares of Yahoo as it battles with shareholders after takeover talks with Microsoft fell apart.

Read moreDow suffers worst 1st half since ’70

GLOBAL ECONOMY – Factories hit worldwide as commodity prices soar

LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Soaring commodity costs are denting manufacturing activity in Asia and Europe and the outlook looks bleak as new orders drop off in the face of rising prices, surveys showed on Tuesday.

Manufacturing activity in the euro zone contracted in June for the first time in three years while business confidence in Asia’s largest export markets is buckling and output has likely contracted further in the United States.

Purchasing managers indices showed manufacturing activity in the euro zone fell to 49.2 in June, China saw its index fall to a near three-year low of 52.0 while in Britain it contracted at its sharpest rate since December 2001.

The 50.0 mark separates growth from contraction. Factories worldwide have struggled in the face of soaring raw material and energy costs — oil hit over $143 a barrel on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan’s tankan corporate index of big manufacturers’ sentiment dropped to plus 5, from 11 in March, showing their mood has not been darker since 2003.

Read moreGLOBAL ECONOMY – Factories hit worldwide as commodity prices soar

Starbucks to cut as many as 12,000 positions

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) said on Tuesday it plans to close another 500 underperforming stores and eliminate as many as 12,000 fill- and part-time positions.

The company, which now plans to close a total of 600 underperforming stores, will take related charges totaling more than $325 million.

The majority of the stores will be closed by the end of the first half of its fiscal year ended September 2009, the company said.

Read moreStarbucks to cut as many as 12,000 positions

America’s Shrinking Groceries

American supermarkets are epics of excess: it often seems like every item in the store comes in a “Jumbo” size or has “Bonus!” splashed across the label. But is it possible that the amount of food Americans are buying is, in fact… shrinking? Well, yes. Soaring commodity and fuel prices are driving up costs for manufacturers; faced with a choice between raising prices (which consumers would surely notice) or quietly putting fewer ounces in the bag, carton or cup (which they generally don’t) manufacturers are choosing the latter. This month, Kellogg’s started shipping Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Froot Loops and Honey Smacks containing an average of 2.4 fewer ounces per box.

Similar reductions have recently happened or are on the horizon for many other products: Tropicana orange juice containers are shrinking from 96 ounces to 89; Wrigley’s is dropping its the 17-stick PlenTPak in favor of the 15-stick Slim Pack; Dial soap bars now weigh half an ounce less, and that’s even before they melt in the shower. Containers of Country Crock spread, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Edy’s and Breyer’s ice cream have all slimmed down as well (although that may not necessarily be a bad thing).

“People are just more sensitive to changes in price than changes in quantity,” says Harvard Business School Professor John Gourville, who studies consumer decision-making. “Most people can tell you how much a box of cereal costs, but they have no clue how much is actually in it.” Other segments of the economy have made similar moves to pass on their higher costs to the consumer without raising prices directly. American Airlines announced in May that it would charge $15 each way for a single checked bag, part of what airlines have dubbed “a la carte” pricing, which – along with the industrywide drive to put price tags on former freebies like soft drinks, meals and headphones – some airline observers say is really an effort to avoid increasing base ticket prices.

Read moreAmerica’s Shrinking Groceries

IMF orders X-ray of the entire US financial system

IMAGINE the Reserve Bank of Australia, concerned that its friends in the city of Sydney (but perhaps Melbourne) who, having wallowed in wealth all their adult lives, were no longer gainfully employable and their wildly extravagant lifestyles were in danger, and, having the powers to intervene in the market, decided to do just that on their behalf.

Imagine them offering to enter the market and buy shares that would prop up the foolish gambles of the bankers, gambles they had encouraged them, until recently, to take by providing them with cheap money.

On top of that, they told this group they would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in credits to these same profiteers on the grounds they were so big and important to the economy they were indeed too big to fail.

Then, imagine, despite pouring untold taxpayers money into stocks and allowing their cronies access to vast sums, the system continued to fail. So they announced they would need greater power and with it more secrecy.

For its growing band of critics has, perhaps unwittingly and in the interest of public good, this has become the principal function of the US Federal Reserve.

If this was to happen in Australia the International Monetary Fund would be hammering at the door of the Reserve Bank. But Australia does not have a President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, commonly known as the Plunge Protection Team, that allows the US Government to prop up the markets by buying shares. But to imagine the IMF investigating the US financial system is unthinkable, or was. But, at the weekend, Der Spiegel reported that the IMF would conduct a full investigation into virtually every aspect of it.

Der Spiegel wrote that the IMF had “informed” Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke of plans that would have been unheard of in the past: a general examination of the US financial system. The IMF’s board of directors has ruled that a so-called Financial Sector Assessment Program is to be carried out in the US.

This, Der Spiegel wrote, “is nothing less than an X-ray of the entire US financial system”, adding that “no Fed chief in US history has been forced to submit to the kind of humiliation that Ben Bernanke is facing”.

The fact that the IMF is knocking on the very doors of its parents and waving legal papers about who lost the house, the car and the kids will, if the past is anything to go by, be buried in the US by pom-pom waving on CNBC telling all what a great time it is to buy.

But the news that the US Fed has now lost its last vestige of credibility did not end with the German report.

The Telegraph from London weighed in, following the Royal Bank of Scotland’s statement last week (also lost on the US public) that it was time to head for the crags, and reported Barclays Capital’s closely watched Global Outlook analysis that said US headline inflation would hit 5.5% by August and the Fed would have to raise interest rates six times by the end of next year to prevent a wage spiral.

If the Fed hesitates, the bond markets will take matters into their own hands. “This is the first test for central banks in 30 years and they have fluffed it,” the report found. “They have zero credibility, and the Fed is negative if that’s possible. It has lost all credibility.”

Der Spiegel reports that the IMF is threatening to seriously study the accounts of America, something President George Bush is determined to prevent at least while he is in the White House, informing the IMF that it can begin its investigation but cannot complete it until he leaves office.

Read moreIMF orders X-ray of the entire US financial system

Jim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs

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Jim Rogers: Global Economic Outlook

Jim Rogers: China’s Economic Advance is All But Unstoppable

Jim Rogers: Bernanke should be fired 2008.03.19

Jim Rogers says “Abolish the FED” on CNBC 2008.03.12

June 30 (Bloomberg) — Jim Rogers, who in April 2006 correctly predicted oil would reach $100 a barrel and gold $1,000 an ounce, said investors should steer clear of the dollar as the U.S. economy slows and favor commodities this year.

The dollar has slipped 7.7 percent against the euro and 5.9 percent versus the yen in 2008 as the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to stave off a U.S. recession. Oil prices have doubled in the past 12 months, while gold is up 44 percent.

Avoid the dollar “at all costs,” Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, said in a speech in Shanghai today. “The best investments in 2008 are commodities and natural resources. Agricultural prices have much higher to go over the next decade. We have a shortage of everything, including seeds.”

Oil and metal prices in New York have surged as a slumping U.S. currency made them cheaper for non-dollar investors to buy as a hedge against inflation in a slowing global economy. The dollar has stabilized in recent weeks, with currency volatility falling by the most since 1999 this quarter.

The comments from Rogers, 65, come two days after he told investors at a conference in Nanjing not to “give up” on Chinese shares, which have made China the world’s second worst performers this year. Rogers, who first started buying Chinese stocks in 1999, said he hadn’t sold any of his holdings.

Commodity Bull

Read moreJim Rogers: Avoid The Dollar At All Costs

The Dow-Crash, The Dollar, Gold, and WAR!

The June 2008 Dow Crash
and the coming first strike attack on Iran
herald the end of dollar hegemony.

BREAK-DOW!

They say that pictures speak a thousand words, so let’s start this with a picture:

Today, the Dow crashed through its eight-year support level at 11,750. There isn’t much below now to keep it from dropping all the way back down to the 7,500-range. What that will do to American investor psychology and worse, consumer confidence, and therefore spending, and therefore the economy, is only too apparent.

The gold-attack on Monday obviously didn’t take. Gold recovered the following day and powered up by $26 the very next day to close in NY at $911. On Friday, gold confirmed its breakout, which means there will be little holding it back – just like there is now very little that’s holding the Dow up.

Unsurprisingly, the US war machinery is in full swing at this time. Troop and military asset movements into the Iranian theater are nearly complete, the Israelis have flown their practice-attack of 100-plus fighter jets over the Mediterranean, and Congress has again prostrated itself before its banking-guild rulers who want total government (and therefore banking) of all economic activity.

Congress did this by passing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to give retroactive immunity to telcoms spying for the government, and by proposing a resolution (the already infamous H. Con. Res. 362) by which Congress demands that Bush completely blockade Iran in order to force it to stop enriching uranium. This, naturally, is a perfect setup for unleashing the long-planned bombing campaign on Iran. Congressmen know that Iran will not accede to these international demands.

End result: We will probably get another war because of all this, just like we got one back in 2002-03 when the Dow plunged into the chasm this recently broken support level has bridged for these past eight years (see chart above).

The problem is that this time, it is a bipartisan gang of US war mongers in our Congress who all appear hell-bent on forcing Bush to attack Iran with a preemptive strike, possibly even an unprovoked nuclear first strike – something that human history so far has not had to deal with.

It is also something that will cause the US to forfeit any legitimate claims of world leadership for the remainder of that history.

The War Currency

Wars are rarely fought over national security issues, as political leaders often claim. At rock bottom, they are mostly fought over economic issues.

Iraq and Iran (if Congress and the administration get their way) are the only two countries the US has ever attacked preemptively. They are also the only two oil-producing countries that ever went off the petrodollar. The alleged nuclear ambitions of a terrorist-sponsoring country cannot be the real reason for the planned attack – because terrorist-sponsor North Korea was not only allowed to develop nuclear weapons unmolested, it was even allowed to test-launch a potentially nuclear-tipped ICBM at the US without any military repercussions whatsoever.

There goes the “national security” rationalization for this planned attack.

This fact exposes the attacks for what they really are. tools of US monetary policy. The dollar has no real value internationally, save for the fact that the now militarily enforced necessity for countries to buy dollars in order to buy oil creates artificial demand.

The euro’s existence threatens all of this, now. Oil countries have a dollar-alternative in the euro, and so does the rest of the world. The euro is designed to not be quite as inflationary as the dollar is and has been. This is done by virtue of the ECB’s exclusive mandate of “price stability”, another word for inflation fighting.

Yet Another War Currency

Read moreThe Dow-Crash, The Dollar, Gold, and WAR!

The Price Of Food: 2007 – 2008

Related articles:
The U.S. Has No Remaining Grain Reserves
Floods wipe out US crops
Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis
Time to Stockpile Food?
Food Riots are Coming to the U.S.
UN alert: One-fourth of world’s wheat at risk from new fungus
THE FOUR HORSEMEN APPROACH – FAMINE IS IN THE AIR

The meat prices will very soon go through the roof too, because the livestock is fed with corn, soybeans and hay. And the prices will continue to rise because of accelerating inflation, the missing bees, flooding and more natural disasters coming. – The Infinite Unknown
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Source: Cattle Network

May

May

Percent

Meat & Dairy

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Ground Chuck Lb 2.766 2.798 1.16%
Ground Beef Lb 2.307 2.313 0.26%
Steak Round, Choice Lb 4.134 4.178 1.06%
Bacon, Sliced Lb 3.651 3.637 -0.38%
Pork Chops Lb 3.194 3.268 2.32%
Chicken Breast Lb 2.312 2.392 3.46%
Turkey, Frozen Lb 1.146 1.258 9.77%
Eggs, Grade A Doz 1.504 1.930 28.32%
Milk, Fresh Gal 3.259 3.760 15.37%
Cheddar Cheese Lb 3.976 4.397 10.59%
Source: ERS/USDA – Retail Prices

Field Crops

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Barley Bu $3.12 $4.76 52.56%
Beans, Dry Edible Cwt $3.08 $5.06 64.29%
Corn Bu $3.49 $5.12 46.70%
Cotton Lb $0.44 $0.61 37.95%
Flaxseed Bu $7.08 $16.60 134.46%
Hay Ton $138.00 $166.00 20.29%
Lentils Cwt $13.20 $32.70 147.73%
Oats Bu $2.49 $3.46 38.96%
Peanuts Lb $0.18 $0.20 12.29%
Peas, Dry Edible Cwt $10.10 $16.40 62.38%
Potatoes Cwt $7.95 $9.21 15.85%
Rice, Rough Cwt $10.00 $15.00 50.00%
Sorghum Cwt $6.49 $9.18 41.45%
Soybeans Bu $7.12 $12.30 72.75%
Sunflower Cwt $16.60 $27.40 65.06%
Wheat Bu $4.88 $8.80 80.33%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received

May

May

Percent

Fruits

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Apples Lb $0.27 $0.34 26.02%
Grapefruit Box $4.49 $5.12 14.03%
Lemons Box $8.14 $20.77 155.16%
Oranges Box $11.12 $6.95 -37.50%
Peaches Ton $820.00 $948.00 15.61%
Pears Ton $651.00 $525.00 -19.35%
Strawberries Cwt $68.60 $66.70 -2.77%
Tangerines Box $17.01 $5.98 -64.84%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received

May

May

Percent

Vegetables

Unit

2007

2008

Change

Asparagus Cwt $91.90 $99.80 8.60%
Broccoli Cwt $26.70 $27.30 2.25%
Carrots Cwt $32.00 $25.50 -20.31%
Cauliflower Cwt $24.90 $37.40 50.20%
Celery Cwt $18.30 $37.70 106.01%
Cucumbers Cwt $28.50 $17.50 -38.60%
Lettuce Cwt $13.60 $16.80 23.53%
Onions Cwt $24.20 $31.70 30.99%
Snap Beans Cwt $38.80 $39.60 2.06%
Sweet Corn Cwt $21.40 $23.10 7.94%
Tomatoes Cwt $35.60 $40.40 13.48%
Source: USDA/NASS – Ag Prices Received
Prepared By: Rob Cook, rob@cattlenetwork.com

As Bill Evolves, Mortgage Debt Is Snowballing

When Congress started fashioning a sweeping rescue package for struggling homeowners earlier this year, 2.6 million loans were in trouble. But the problem has grown considerably in just six months and is continuing to worsen.

More than three million borrowers are in distress, and analysts are forecasting a couple of million more will fall behind on their payments in the coming year as home prices fall further and the economy weakens.

Those stark numbers not only illustrate the challenges for the lawmakers trying to provide some relief to their constituents but also hint at what the next administration will be facing after the election. While the proposed program would help some homeowners, analysts say it would touch only a small fraction of those in trouble – the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would be used by 400,000 borrowers – and would do little to bolster the housing market.

“It’s not enough, even in the best of circumstances,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com. The number of people who will be helped “is going to be overwhelmed by the three million that are headed toward default.”

Read moreAs Bill Evolves, Mortgage Debt Is Snowballing

OPEC Leader Khelil Says Dollar Will Drive Oil to $170

June 28 (Bloomberg) — OPEC President Chakib Khelil predicted that the price of oil will climb to $170 a barrel before the end of the year, citing the dollar’s decline and political conflicts.

“Oil prices are expected to reach $170 as demand for fuel is growing in the U.S. during the summer period and the dollar continues to weaken against the euro,” Khelil said today in a telephone interview. The leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also serves as Algeria’s oil minister.

Political pressure on Iran and the depreciation of the U.S. currency have caused a surge in oil prices, Khelil said. New York- traded crude has more than doubled in a year and touched a record $142.99 a barrel yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

OPEC ministers generally say that oil output is sufficient, even as Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer, pledged to pump an extra 200,000 barrels a day next month to calm the market. “The market is completely supplied,” Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said yesterday. Libya announced possible production cuts, calling the market oversupplied.

The rising cost of crude is not linked to supply, Khelil said today. “There is more than enough oil in the market to meet the international demand,” added the OPEC president, who will take part June 30 in an international energy forum in Madrid.

Prices, which are up 38 percent this quarter, are heading for the biggest quarterly gain since the first three months of 1999, when oil traded between $11 and $17.

Declining Dollar

“The decisions made by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank helped the devaluation of the dollar, which pushed up oil prices,” Khelil said.

Read moreOPEC Leader Khelil Says Dollar Will Drive Oil to $170