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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Trend Alert: Revolutionary Fervor to Spread Beyond Arab States - Europe Next By Gerald Celente

Kingston, NY -- When the Tunisian government toppled, the mass media and their stable of experts – who were blindsided by these events – quickly stepped in to proclaim the obvious: that citizens of other Arab nations would be emboldened to challenge autocratic and corrupt governments. 
Now Egypt is in the throes of insurrection, and Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen are already targeted for revolutionary change. The richer and more tightly controlled Kingdoms of the  Middle East will not be immune to challenges from their citizenry to break the chains of royal rule. 

But, as I had forecast in the Trends Journal, it is not solely the Middle East that is destined to experience episodes of violent upheaval. What is transpiring in the  Arab world will spread throughout many  European states.  While the call to arms will be spoken in different tongues, the underlying causes will be the same. 
In December 2010 (before Tunisia made the headlines) we issued a Trend Alert® titled, “Off With Their Heads!” in which we predicted a “long war between the people and the ruling classes.” We noted that, “Anyone questioning the intensity of the people’s seething anger is either out of touch or in denial.”
It wasn’t Arab anger that led us to that forecast – it was the student and worker revolts spilling into the streets of Europe. The imposition of draconian austerity measures – higher taxes, tuition hikes, lost benefits, curtailed services, public sector job cuts – had young and old raging against a rigged system that paved the way for the privileged and punished the proles. 
Though millions marched through the streets of Athens, Brussels, Dublin, Lisbon, London and Madrid, when the protests ended, the governments were barely shaken, let alone toppled. Unlike the autocratic Arab regimes, where the tight grip of repression could only be broken by violence, in the “democratic” West the illusion of representation and placating government promises mitigated the violence.  
Both the press and politicians assumed the protests would run their course, people would accept their fate, and, like it or not, suffer the consequences.  The protests, however, have not run their course. The economic toll of austerity and unemployment continues to ravage the lower and middle classes. As we wrote in the Winter 2011 Trends Journal, “It will only be a matter of time before a series of final straw events breaks the public’s back, setting off uncontrollable uprisings, coups (bloodless and/or military), riots and revolts throughout the financially battered world.”
Trend Forecast: The unintended consequences of the regime changes in North Africa and the Middle East, and the uprisings we forecast that will roil Europe will be as fully dramatic as their intended consequences: the overthrow of governments. The calls by Presidents, Prime Ministers, cabinet officials and foreign policy experts for “orderly transition of power” are nothing more than diplomatic doublespeak and pure windbaggery. There is no such thing as a clean and simple revolution.  
As we will see in Egypt, military coups will be disguised as regime changes. Already the public is being conditioned to view the  Egyptian military as beloved liberators. But in fact they are simply another arm of the autocratic government, no more familiar with democratic ideals than the dictator they replace... who had himself been drawn from the ranks of the military. 
The world leaders and world media are not recognizing the Egyptian uprising for what it is: a prelude to a series of civil wars that will lead to regional wars, that will lead to the first “ Great War” of the 21st century. (See Trends Journal, Spring 2010:  “The History of The Future: Trends 2012 - The Great War,”

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U.S. state bankruptcy bill imminent, Gingrich says

WASHINGTON — Legislation that would allow U.S. states to file for bankruptcy will likely be introduced in Congress within the next month, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives and a powerful Republican party figure, told Reuters on Friday.
Although Mr. Gingrich, considered responsible for the "Republican Revolution" of the 1990’s, is no longer in office, he has deep ties to Congress and is frequently named as a potential presidential contender in 2012.
For months he has championed letting states file for bankruptcy in order to handle their long-term budget problems despite resistance from states and investors in the US$2.8-trillion municipal bond market.
"We’re faced with the danger that the states are going to try to show up and say to Washington: You have to give us money," Mr. Gingrich said. "And I think we have to have an alternative that allows us to say no."
While he declined to comment on who might introduce legislation, Mr. Gingrich said there was support in both the House and the Senate. He said lawmakers have been looking into the idea for three or four months.
Gingrich first publicly broached the idea in November, the same month the Republican party won control of the House in mid-term elections, largely on promises of reducing spending.
But the legislation will likely face an uphill battle with Democrats still in control of the Senate and the White House.
Because states are sovereign, they cannot declare bankruptcy as cities can, and most have provisions in their constitutions that make defaulting on debt next to impossible.
And California — a state which Mr. Gingrich said would likely turn to Congress for financial help along with New York and Illinois — said on Friday it has no interest in using bankruptcy to solve its fiscal problems.
California, the eighth largest economy in the world, would not benefit from the legislation, Treasurer Bill Lockyer said.
"States didn’t ask for it. We don’t want it. We don’t need it," Mr. Lockyer said. "Bankruptcy would devastate states’ ability to recover from the recession and make the infrastructure investments that create good jobs."
Struggling to close a US$25-billion budget gap, California already holds Moody’s Investors Service’s lowest state credit rating — a distinction it shares with Illinois.
"Just the availability of a bankruptcy option and the potential bond default could severely damage state credit ratings and destroy the trust of bondholders," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Last week, the municipal bond market suffered a sharp sell-off on fears of defaults by cities and other issuers.
Representative Xavier Becerra, a member of the House Democratic leadership, said the bankruptcy idea is not new.
"But it has never been taken seriously until now because Republicans are insistent on doing nothing to help the states," he told reporters on Friday. "I don’t think that is a realistic solution. I don’t believe it is a necessary solution."
Hit hard by the deepest recession since the Great Depression, states’ economies remain weak, even though the recession ended in mid-2009. State revenues are well below the levels reached before the recession, and high unemployment has driven up spending on public services.
Lawmakers from both parties are concerned Congress may have to step in again with an expensive fix. There is little appetite on Capitol Hill for a repeat of the US$814-billion economic stimulus plan passed in 2009.
But along with the recession states are faced with permanent budget problems, including pension obligations they cannot cover estimated to total at least US$700-billion.
Filing for bankruptcy would allow them to renege on their pension promises and other obligations to state employees.
"The very fact of the bill existing... allows governors to sit down with unions and say: ’Look you, negotiate with us or I’m taking the state into bankruptcy,’" Mr. Gingrich said.

Finantial Post

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Can inflation data be trusted?

Egypt now fears Obama a 'Manchurian President'

Top members of the Egyptian government say they feel betrayed by President Obama, charging that he is acting against American interests.

"Mubarak's regime feels Obama is pushing the advancement of the Muslim Brotherhood against U.S. interests," said WND's Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter Aaron Klein. "They are genuinely trying to understand why Obama is seemingly championing the anti-regime protests."
Klein said that a top Egyptian diplomat with whom he has developed a rapport over the last few years asked him earlier this week to explain Obama's motivation to support the oppositionto Mubarak.
"I told him none of this should be a surprise," said Klein, "that the Obama administration has developed an extensive relationship over the last few years with allies of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Get the comprehensive probe that exposes Obama's Marxist, anti-American past – and present, in "Manchurian President."

"That my investigating has proven that Obama has been closely associated throughout his political career with radical-left elements who have long petitioned for policies many believe are aimed at weakening the American enterprise both domestically and internationally."
"The Egyptian diplomat seemed surprised," said Klein. "I told him this material was thoroughly documented in my latest book."

The diplomat requested 20 copies of Klein's New York Times bestselling book investigating Obama,"The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's ties to communists, socialists, and other anti-American extremists."

The diplomat said he would deliver the book, which was co-authored by Brenda J. Elliott, to senior officials in Mubarak's embattled government.
Obama in recent days urged Mubarak to give up power in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood forms the mainopposition.

Mubarak has been a staunch U.S. ally and a recipient of billions of dollars in military aid. His regime has long been considered a stabilizing force in the Arab world.
The Obama administration's support for the unrest is strikingly reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's support of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, which marked the birth of modern Islamist expansion.



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World facing 'global burnout syndrome

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. World leaders are facing a number of complex issues.
GENEVA — The world is suffering from “global burnout syndrome” and is too weak to tackle the web of interrelated threats facing businesses and governments, the head of the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.
Klaus Schwab, who chairs the WEF that organises the annual meeting of executives and politicians at Davos, said the world had not yet fully digested the crisis that emerged from the financial crunch, and was not yet in post-crisis phase.
“We have to be careful that this crisis does not become a social crisis — which it has in some countries,” the German business studies professor told a media conference on the gathering at the Swiss resort from Jan. 26 to Jan. 30.
“We have in the world a situation where the political system and the institutions are just overwhelmed by the complexity which they have to face,” he said.
The Davos meeting, protected by beefed-up Swiss security which includes the closing of local airspace, is the world’s top networking event, allowing bankers and CEOs to rub shoulders with presidents and prime ministers, and to cut deals.
But the uneven economic recovery makes it a particularly challenging time to be meeting, with emerging economies rebounding but rich countries still struggling.
In the rich world social tension is rising as governments bring in austerity measures to pay off debt or postpone hard decisions on borrowing, while companies return to profitability and banks resume controversial bonus payments.
Global forecasting and analysis group IHS says a restructuring of eurozone sovereign debt is inevitable and while it is unlikely that fringe countries will drop out of the euro, financial markets could force the next phase of crisis management as early as this year.
“This will very likely include a debt restructuring plan, with ‘haircuts’ for investors and further aid for the European banks holding much of this debt,” IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh said in a briefing for the Davos forum.
Combination fo risk, failure of governance
In a report last week, the WEF identified three interrelated nexuses of risks — economic, such as fiscal, trade and currency problems; raw materials, particularly the impact of rising energy costs and dwindling water supplies on food prices; and illegal trade, corruption and failed states.
“It’s not just risks in isolation, it’s the combination of risks that can be so dangerous,” said WEF Chief Business Officer Robert Greenhill.
Rising economic disparity and social tension nationally and the increasing inability of the global community to tackle problems proactively exacerbates these threats.
“It’s that failure of global governance... which is perhaps the greatest risk of all,” Greenhill said.
Glitz and hype surround the meeting in Davos, an upmarket ski resort made famous by German novelist Thomas Mann in his novel “The Magic Mountain” written at a time when it was better known for its sanitoriums for wealthy tuberculosis sufferers.
But the organisers do not claim it can actually solve the problems it discusses — although anti-capitalist campaigners denounce it as a plutocratic cabal plotting global domination.
“The World Economic Forum is not a decision-making body. It fosters dialogue, it fosters understanding,” Mr. Schwab said.
But Greenhill said it will try to help with the complex of threats by launching a “global risk response network” bringing together company risk officers and government policy-makers.
As usual the WEF will wheel out several global leaders among its 2,500 participants. The chair of the G20, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, addresses the forum on Thursday, Jan. 27.
Among 25 government heads expected are German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who opens the forum on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Medvedev, a keen user of the micro-blogging site Twitter, will take questions from the public via “crowdsourcing” on www.wef.ch/askdmitrimedvedev.
The cast list also features eight central bankers, including European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, who will also take part in an open session accessible to the public, and 14 labour leaders and more than 1,400 CEOs and other business chiefs — 400 of whom will be using Twitter as “CEO reporters.”
Davos’s reputation in the past was made by several high-profile diplomatic meetings on the sidelines.
This year, seven key trade ministers hosted by the European Union will meet on Friday, Jan. 28, as part of renewed efforts to conclude the nine-year-old Doha round to free up world trade — itself one of the biggest failures of global governance.
© Thomson Reuters 2011.
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Russia Fields Ballistic Missiles in South Ossetia, Report Says

Russia has moved Tochka ballistic missiles to the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia, Interfax reported last week (see GSN, Aug. 26, 2010).
"The Georgian special services have been informed about the presence of the rockets in South Ossetia, which are capable to effectively repel any aggression from Tbilisi," Georgia, an insider from Russia's Southern Military District told the news agency.
Also called the SS-21 Scarab, the short-range, single-warhead missile can hit targets within 75 miles, according to Interfax (Interfax, Jan. 24).
Georgia and Russia fought a brief war in summer 2008 after Tbilisi tried to re-exert control over South Ossetia. Since then, Moscow has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and constructed military facilities in the two areas.
Georgia last week denounced the reported transfer of the nuclear-capable tactical weapons, Civil Georgia reported.
“The deployment ... poses a direct and overt threat to the peaceful population and territory of Georgia. By taking such actions Russia follows through with its aggressive policy directed towards the destruction of the Georgian statehood and elimination of the peaceful population of Georgia, as well as towards causing large-scale instability in the Caucasus and throughout the Black Sea Region,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“It needs to be emphasized that it was with the use of [Tochka] systems that the Russian Federation completely destroyed the city of Bamut (Republic of Chechnya) and eliminated its peaceful population. The ballistic missiles of this system can be equipped with cluster (consisting of 50 bomblets) and nuclear warheads,” the statement adds.
“The deployment of the offensive rocket systems in the occupied region points clearly to the Russian Federation's plans to launch open military aggression against Georgia,” the Foreign Ministry said (Civil Georgia, Jan. 24).
The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged Moscow to "avoid any actions that may raise tensions or could contribute to insecurity or instability in the region."
"We take this opportunity to once again call for the resumption of meaningful international monitoring presences in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia," the department said in a statement.
"The continued absence of transparency and international monitoring in South Ossetia makes it impossible for the international community to assess reports such as these," the statement continues. "This underscores the need for full implementation of the August 2008 cease-fire commitments agreed to by both Russia and Georgia. It is also important to redouble efforts within the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to find ways to increase transparency regarding military forces and deployments" (U.S. State Department release, Jan. 27).

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The Pharaoh Will Fall, Oil Will Climb, and Wall Street Will Win

Yesterday, oil broke through the $100 mark for the first time since 2008 due to the populist uprising in Arab nations, indicating it’s well on its way to new heights. Many financial insiders have predicted oil will go to $150 per barrel and beyond this year. But if $100/bbl was not odd enough given the stagnant (at best) economic environment, what could possibly make it jump another 50%?

The dollar won’t drop that significantly over the next year, will it? If it does, calls to drop the petro-dollar as the reserve currency will likely turn to reality.  And surely the global economy is not expected to grow fast enough to warrant a 50% jump for the lifeblood of civilization. It seems clear that demand for oil will stay relatively flat, so only a catastrophic supply problem would justify these increases.
Enter the new supply problem.  A stunning wave of populist protests has swept through Egypt who control the ultra-important Suez Canal.  The Egyptian revolution is displaying powerful solidarity in their struggle to oust longtime autocrat Pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak, for corruption and economic suppression. And it’s beginning to look as though Mubarak will eventually be forced out and new leadership will be throned to appease the masses.
However, the uprising is expanding, and is likely to spread deeper into the psyche of the eternally oppressed around the world.  The outcome of this tsunami of activism is uncertain, but stormy waves means it is surf’s up for Wall Street.  The civil unrest gives them the perfect excuse to justify what can only be described as outright fraud and manipulation of the oil markets.

Bloomberg reported in 2009 that Citigroup, JP Morgan, and other “Traders” were leasing and buying oil tankers, parking them idle in the ocean, while simultaneously driving up oil futures through their brokerages.  In fact, it was actually difficult to get oil when it was cheap because of this hoarding.  Meanwhile, prices jumped from the low $40s to over $70 per barrel is just a few months.  The near doubling of prices in the summer of 2009 caused Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce legislation to crack down on oil speculation.
Sanders claimed that, “Despite the record supply of oil and reduced demand, prices are going up, not down.”  And that because the storage of oil in overseas tankers goes unreported to the federal government, the practice has distorted supplies and led to unnecessarily high prices.Reuters reported:
“The last thing people need now is to be ripped off at the gas pump because speculators on Wall Street — some of the same people who received the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history — are allowed to jack up oil prices through price manipulation and outright fraud,” he said (Sanders).
Sanders’ legislation directs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees futures markets like the New York Mercantile Exchange, “to stop sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in prices.”

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Brighter outlook for sterling in 2011

Brighter outlook for sterling in 2011 as global currencies face reality check

If the Bank of England raises rates in 2011 sterling will strengthen.

Currency wars may have been a recurring theme in 2010, but as quantitative easing and spiralling debt crises roll into the New Year, here are some predictions for 2011.

Fighting currency talk hit the headlines in 2010, with Barack Obama taking an uncharacteristic jibe at China’s currency policy this year, while China joined Germany in criticising of America’s money printing policy.

But while commodity currencies won the battles of 2010, with the Australian dollar up 16.5pc against sterling over just 10 months to A$1.5195 and the Canadian dollar up 10pc to C$1.5453, it was safe havens like the dollar, yen and Swiss franc that won the war.

Despite ongoing US economic worries and further quantitative easing on the cards for 2011, the dollar’s status as the haven of all safe havens continued, as investors threw away the rulebook and rushed to the greenback.

Glenn Uniacke, senior dealer at Moneycorp says that since the beginning of the crisis, “a ‘bigger is better’ attitude is what we’ve seen. So despite their relatively weakening economies, we’ve seen the dollar, the yen, the euro prosper.”

Mr Uniacke predicts the dollar to be “the best of a bad bunch” in 2011, ending the year at $1.40 against sterling compared with $1.54 today, with much of its strength seen during the first half.

Clive Lennox, managing partner at Clear Currency says increasing inflationary pressures on the Bank of England to turn ifs into whens on interest rate rises will come to a head in 2011, “and should that happen you should see flows of currency coming back into sterling, and an increase in its value.”

Mr Lennox predicts sterling will end 2011 at $1.65 against the dollar.

Jeremy Cook, chief economist at foreign exchange brokers at World First, predicts sterling will end 2011 at $1.74 against the dollar, saying weak US data and low confidence levels mean strong economic growth for the US is “a long and distant memory.”

Euro troubles suggest brighter outlook for sterling
The 2010 European debt crisis that started with Greece, ended with Ireland, and posed questions for other nations, has put pressure on the euro, with some even questioning its future.

Most predictions see the euro in tact but weaker in 2011. Mr Cook predicts a “fairly conservative” euro estimate of €1.28 against sterling in 2011, with “the euro to remain on the back foot throughout next year.”

Barcap, which said in December that sterling will be the strongest currency of 2011, also expects the euro to fall from its current level of €1.1668 to €1.282 by the end of 2011.

On the euro debt crisis, Barcap says the contagion should not spread to larger economies such as Spain, as long as problems are addressed quickly.

Barcap says Spain’s “fiscal situation appears manageable. It has a large deficit but a lower debt/GDP ratio than Germany, and the government’s plans appear sufficiently aggressive to bring about sustainability fairly smoothly (as long as market prices do not move too aggressively against it).”

Barcap also recently noted the mixed fortunes of sterling and the yen following the financial crisis. Two years ago £1 bought more than Y200, But as the crisis unfolded, the yen was seen as a safe haven, and £1 buys just Y125.98 today.

But Barcap says of the two currencies, sterling appears more attractive. It feels “the UK is getting its house in order and, though it will be a difficult process, the restructuring of the economy is likely to bring about some appreciation of the currency. Japan, by contrast, seems to have returned to being mired in deflation and may face a prolonged period of weak growth."

This sentiment is shared by Mr Cook who predicts £1 will be worth Y153.00 by the end of 2011, due to “a predicted pick up in risky assets in 2011, the yen will likely be sold by currency traders looking for carry trade plays elsewhere.”

Elsewhere, traders expect the Swiss Franc, another safe haven, to fall.

Mr Lennox says the country may devalue its currency once again “in an attempt to make sure that its export market remains competitive in the international environment,” and predicts £1 will buy SFr155.80 by the end of 2011, up from SFr145.19 at the end of this year.

He also singled-out the Australian dollar as “the evergreen currency of 2010, because it just gets stronger and stronger, so you’d be a fool to bet against it in 2011.”

Mr Uniacke shares this sentiment, and though he says the currency is currently "over-buoyed" and China, its main trade partner, may be down-playing its inflation figures, he also says China "will keep on growing, and its key international partner in terms of the commodity need is Australia, so they’re going to do reasonably well next year.”

He also holds hope for sterling over the next 24 months, and tips it as "a star waiting to happen, because it’s one of the few major currencies that is categorically undervalued against virtually everything else, without there being anything material behind it – after all, the banks are still trading..."

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