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Friday, April 29, 2011

Global Masters

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Spain jobless rate hits new eurozone record

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's unemployment rate jumped in the first quarter to 21.3 percent, a eurozone record and the country's highest since 1997, with over 4.9 million people out of work, the government said Friday.

Joblessness during the January-March period jumped 1 percentage point from 20.3 percent at the end of 2010, and adds pressure on Spain as it tries to recover from nearly two years of recession and convince investors that it can handle its heavy debt load.

"This data is very negative and grave," said Labor Minister Valeriano Gomez.

The country is struggling to shift away from dependence on the construction sector, which supported growth for years until the financial crisis popped the Spain's real estate bubble, as well as make the economy more competitive and reduce national debt.

The number of unemployed people in Spain stood at 4,910,200 at the end of March, up about 214,000 from the previous quarter, said the National Statistics Institute, or INE.

In an unemployment line in a working-class Madrid neighborhood, people grimly waiting to sign up for benefit payments said they saw little hope of finding new jobs for years.

Johnny Albuja, 29, was laid off from his job cleaning offices when the company he worked for lost a contract, but only expected to get unemployment benefits for three months since he worked for the company for just one year.

Over the past year, his father and brother were laid off from a metal works company as demand plummeted.

"The situation is really difficult right now," Albuja said. "You can't live well, you still have to pay the mortgage and it's tough to get by."

The jobless rate is now at its highest since the first quarter of 1997, when it was 21.3 percent, although officials have since changed the way they measure unemployment, said an INE official who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with agency policy. But the overall number of people unemployed is a record, the agency said.

Jobs were lost across the entire Spanish economy, with services, manufacturing, agriculture and construction all taking hits.

Adding to the bad news for households, consumer prices rose sharply, INE said Friday. The consumer price inflation rate jumped to an annual 3.8 percent in April, up two-tenths of a point from March. Higher fuel prices prompted by unrest in the Middle East and North Africa have been pushing the rate up since January.

Spain must hold a general election by March 2012, and polls show the governing Socialists trailing badly. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has stated he will not seek a third term.

While Europe and Germany in particular recovers from the global recession, Spain is forecasting meager growth of just 1.3 percent for itself in 2011, and even the Bank of Spain says that prediction is too optimistic.


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Syria braces for 'day of rage' protests

Activists called for "day of rage" protests across Syria after the Friday weekly Muslim prayers, piling pressure on President Bashar al-Assad as his regime pressed a violent crackdown on dissent.

The looming showdown comes as the UN Human Rights Council prepared for a special session on Syria in Geneva, and the European Union was meeting in Brussels to consider a wide range of sanctions against the Arab state.

The call for mass demonstrations was made in a statement on the Facebook page of Syrian Revolution 2011, a motor of the protests in which demonstrators inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world are seeking greater freedoms.

"To the youths of the revolution, tomorrow we will be in all the places, in all the streets ... We will gather at the besieged towns, including with our brothers in Daraa," said the statement.

It said demonstrations would also be staged in other flashpoint towns such as Homs in the centre of the country and Banias in the northwest.

Information Minister Adnan Mahmud told AFP that the crackdown on protesters would continue, setting the scene for violent confrontations later Friday.

Similar protests after Friday prayers a week ago ended in chaos, with more than 100 people killed when the security forces fired on demonstrators with tear gas and live rounds. Hundreds of people were detained.

"The authorities are determined to restore security, stability and peace to the citizens," Mahmud said. "In Daraa, the army intervened at the request of the population to restore security."

According to the minister, more than 50 soldiers and dozens of police have been killed and hundreds injured since the revolt began.

Syria has been rocked since March 15 by increasingly strident pro-democracy demonstrations, which the authorities have tried to crush through violence that rights groups say has killed at least 453 civilians.

In the southern town of Daraa, epicentre of the protests that have shaken Assad's once uncontested rule, water and power have been cut and the death toll has risen to 42 as a military siege enters a fifth day, rights activists said.

A rights activist reached by telephone said the situation was worsening in Daraa, stormed on Monday by between 3,000 and 5,000 troops backed by tanks and snipers.

"We have neither doctors nor medical supplies, not even baby milk. The electricity is always cut and we haven't any more water," Abdallah Abazid told AFP in Nicosia by telephone from Daraa, 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Damascus.

At least 42 "martyrs" have been killed since Monday, Abazid said. Their families, he added, had been unable to bury them because "security forceswere firing on anybody visiting the cemetery," which is controlled by the army.

In Washington, three key US senators urged President Barack Obama to declare that his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad has squandered his legitimacy and must step down.

"We urge President Obama to state unequivocally -- as he did in the case of (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi and (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak -- that it is time for Assad to go," Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joe Lieberman said in a joint statement.

The UN Human Rights Council meeting, requested by 10 European nations, theUnited States, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Senegal and Zambia, will open at 11.00 am (0900 GMT).

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Some questions to the FED

Today the Federal Reserve is doing their first ever press conference. We have one question we would like to contribute, if anyone has a media contact please forward them this email.
Question: Mr. Bernanke, despite everything going up in price you continue to show a lot of concern for deflation, not inflation. Can you please review the chart below and explain how this inflation chart is deflationary?

The Illusion
FutureMoneyTrends.com has mentioned on several occasions that our recovery and economy is like an illusion. With that said, it shouldn't surprise us anymore when we see just how deep the fraud goes, but once again, we come across a statistic that really shows us how screwed we are. USA Today recently did a report that shows from using Census Bureau data that 18.3% of all income in the U.S. comes from government handouts. That's right, food stamps, unemployment, and other benefits account for 18.3% of ALL income in this country. It gets scarier though, only 50.5% of personal income comes from wages, the lowest since (wait for it) 1929! Government revenue was recently reported at 2.2 trillion, government benefits (wait for it) 2.3trillion. 
Gas Prices and the Double Dip 
Gas prices are starting to become a major problem for policy makers, the U.S. is about to enter a double dip according to our calculations. With Japan still trying to recover from one of the largest natural disasters in history, certainly the largest natural disaster to hit an industrialized nation, the world economy will begin to see the effects of Japan in the coming weeks and months. That of course could be just the final straw that breaks the camel's back. 
When it comes to fuel and food prices, we are definitely heading for the second wave down in the economyFood costs are now taking up 15% of consumer spending2 years ago when the official recession ended (not something we accept) food costs took up 12.7% of consumer spending. Looking at other modern day recessions, food only took up 8% of consumer spending. We are already nearly double that percentage amount. When it comes to energy, historically, average energy costs are about 4% of consumer spending, however, when they cross 6%, it has always led to a recession. Today, energy costs are exactly 6%, now rising food and fuel is pretty much mandatory spending.
So, it is safe to say that Americans will have less to spend on everything else? The math is simple, Americans are going to spend less in a consumer driven economy which will equal a recession or what we would refer to as the next leg down in the long recession we have been in that never ended. Gas prices have risen over a dollar in the last year, 33 cents in the last 30days! Suncoast Energy in Orlando, the highest gas station in the country, is already charging$5.69 a gallon for regular. Gas has risen 35 straight days and currently has a national average of $3.87 a gallon. AAA has reported that since March, they have seen an 18% increase in roadside assistance calls for people running out of gas. Now most analysts agree that gas prices will go down as a result of people driving less. However, we believe any contraction in driving will be offset by the FED printing currency and dollar devaluation from a reckless government. We do see short term deflationary forces, especially in non needed items, but the reason we tend not to focus on them is because we are looking at the bigger picture of a U.S. dollar crisis. Our definition of a crisis is the dollar losing reserve status, no longer needed, no longer loved, and no longer of any value to the world. Now this may take 10 years or 10 days, we are not about to even try and put a date on one of the biggest financial scares in history, certainly the biggest financial crisis in our lifetimes.
Judging by Tim Geithners Recent Statements, Dollar Devaluation Could Be Imminent!
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stated yesterday that he would never follow a strategy to weaken the U.S. dollar. He said, "our policy has been and will always be, as long as I will be in office, that a strong dollar is in the interest of the country." In fact, he really upped the ante and said, "we will never embrace a strategy to weaken the dollar." Translation, get ready for one of the biggest dollar declines you have ever seen. Anytime a Treasury Secretary comes out with a strong dollar policy speech, it usually means they are getting ready to trash it. The more they advocate for a strong dollar policy, the more they plan to destroy it. Let's just say their words have about as much backing as the dollar. So far year to date, the dollar verses other currencies has lost 6.5%. Gold, which is real money by definition, has risen substantially along with silver. In fact, commodities across the board have been rising due to monetary inflation of the global reserve currency. The dollar index, just in anticipation of what the FED is going to say, has dropped to a new year to date low of 73.58. It should be noted that in the last 10 years the dollar index is down 41.5% and gold has risen 473%. During this time, Treasury Secretaries have always made it a point to let us know that they believe in a strong dollar policy. Right...
Don't worry, everything is under control.
Our official prediction when it comes to QE3 is that it will happen, it just may not be called QE3. They may repackage it and call it something else. For instance, QE is just another name for printing currency. Ending it now is really not an option for the Keynesians, especially with the FED responsible for purchasing 70% of our treasuries, it is not going to just end with an annual1.6 trillion dollar deficit.

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Touch Syria and you will hear Iran

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Muslim Brotherhood calls for Syrian protest 'declaration of war' - expert

Protests in Syria

A banned Syrian opposition group's call on anti-government protestors to take to the streets ahead of Friday prayers is a direct challenge to the country's authorities, a political experts says.

It is believed to be the first time that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood has called for street action since a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began six weeks ago.

The "Day of Rage" demonstrations expected today would express solidarity with the besieged southern city of Deraa, where at least 50 people are reported to have been killed by security forces.

Deraa has been the focus of unrest which has left at least 500 people dead, human rights groups say.

"This means an open war," Syrian political expert Hamid al-Abdullah told RIA Novosti on Friday.

"By issuing this call they [the Muslim Brotherhood] have acknowledged that they are a power that is in charge of the processes in the country," al-Abdullah said. "On the other hand, that fact that their call has appeared at a time when the West is increasing pressure on Syria means that they are going on the same plan."

He said however that the group's call
 would do little to affect the situation in the country.
MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti)

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Israel FM says Palestinian deal crosses 'red line'

The Palestinian unity deal agreed in Cairo crossed "a red line," Israel's Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday, warning that an array of measures could be taken against the Palestinian Authority.

"With this accord, a red line has been crossed," the ultra-nationalist foreign minister told Israel's military radio a day after the Palestinian parties announced a surprise reconciliation agreement.

"We have at our disposal a vast arsenal of measures including the lifting of VIP status for Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad, which will not allow them to move freely," he said referring to president Mahmud Abbas and his prime minister.

"We could also freeze the transfer of taxes collected by Israel for the Palestinian Authority," added Lieberman, who leads the Israel Beitenu party in the coalition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After 18 months of largely fruitless reconciliation talks, delegations from Hamas and Fatah meeting in Cairo on Wednesday announced a deal to form an interim unity government with a view to holding presidential and legislative elections within a year.

The deal raises the prospect of an end to the devastating political divide that has seen the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority govern the West Bank while the Islamist Hamas movement controls the Gaza Strip.

But the agreement was criticised by Israel, with Netanyahu warning on Wednesday, shortly after the deal was announced, that Abbas must "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas."

Lieberman said the reconciliation deal would mean the "freeing of hundreds of Hamas terrorists detained by the Palestinian Authority in Judaea and Samaria" -- the biblical name for the West Bank.

He said the elections envisaged under the agreement would allow Hamas "to take control of Judaea and Samaria."

Lieberman said he wanted to see the international community insist that any unity government comply with conditions announced by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet, which includes the United Nations, United States,European Union and Russia.

"We hope that the whole international community will maintain the conditions imposed by the Quartet on the Palestinians, which means an end to violence, recognition of Israel and past agreements, and Hamas does not accept any of these conditions," he said.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said "the latest events do nothing but reinforce the necessity of relying only on ourselves.

"The army and the security services will use an iron fist to deal with any threat and challenge," he warned.


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Treasury quietly plans for failure to raise debt ceiling

The White House is warning that catastrophe will strike if Congress fails to raise the limit on the national debt: With too little cash to pay creditors, the U.S. government would default. Interest rates would skyrocket. And the economic recovery would collapse.

But behind the scenes, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has already begun juggling the books to conserve cash, draining a special account at the Federal Reserve. And with the debt forecast to hit the legal limit of $14.3 trillion in just a few weeks, he has a range of tools at his disposal, including borrowing money from a pension fund for federal workers.

Geithner also has authority to pay investors first for interest they’re owed on the debt, according to a decades-old legal opinion. A growing number of conservatives argue that by making interest payments first, the government could avoid default and the Obama administration’s predictions of economic Armageddon.

But the nation could pay a substantial price in the form of higher interest rates if it relied for long on such evasive maneuvers, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent study. And financial analysts say market confidence could be shattered if Geithner had to cut off pay to combat troops or stop writing Social Security checks — even if he never missed an interest payment.

Washington Post


Dollar Plunge

The dollar continues to plunge verses not only hard assets, but other fiat currencies as well. This morning's economic indicators didn't help at all, unemployment claims surged to 429,000, economists were expecting claims to fall to 395,000. GDP also came in at 1.8% pace in the first quarter, a drop from a 3.1% pace in late 2010. Gold, as we write this has surged to a new ALL TIME HIGH of $1,538.51 and silver has recaptured all of its losses from earlier this week, silver is now at $49.50. The dollar index is at 73.07.
Here is a one year chart of the dollar index, sometimes pictures speak louder than words, or in this case, a chart of our fiat currency vs. other fiat currencies.
Understanding The Gold & Silver Correction
FutureMoneyTrends.com believes that the best way to understand what is happening with metals is understanding the correction. With the COMEX, silver shortage, ETF's, and the amount of currency in the system, it is important to understand that when the precious metals go up in fiat dollars, that is the correction. With less that 1% of global financial assets in gold, any move up in price is gold correcting to its real value. Historically gold, in a modern society, has been around 20% of global financial assets. So, as you can see with it currently being less than 1%, the imbalance is the gold price being too low. Imagine what will happen if pension funds and other investors just move a small portion of their portfolios to gold, even seeing gold rise to 5% of global financial assets could put it at $8,750 per ounce!

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Putin says Libyan oil main goal of NATO campaign

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Libya's oil resources were the main object of the NATO-led military campaign in the country.

"Libya has the biggest oil resources in Africa and the fourth largest gas resources," Putin said during a news conference in Copenhagen. "It raises the question: isn't this the main object of interest to those operating there."

COPENHAGEN, April 26 (RIA Novosti)

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US: Assad no longer potential peace partner for Israel

Syrian President Bashar Assad

WASHINGTON – After two years of pushing Israel to reach a peace agreement with Syria, a top US State Department official indicated Tuesday the Obama administration is no longer looking at the current regime as a partner for such a deal.

“It’s hard for us to stand by and see [President Bashar] Assad and his government engage in the kind of things they’re doing against their own people and to then think easily about how to pursue other diplomatic missions,” Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department, told reporters.

At the same time, he said that the US continues to believe it is important to engage with Syria in order to clearly communicate the US position on the actions Syria is taking in putting down opposition protests.

Sullivan said at this point there are no plans to withdraw the newly installed US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford or otherwise cut off contacts. He noted that the Syrian ambassador in Washington had been summoned to the State Department after the most recent attacks on civilians, and that Ford had held several conversations with top Syrian officials in recent days.

Jerusalem Post


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Central banks pump £3 trillion into world economy

Central banks pump $3 trillion into world economy

The world's central banks have pumped £3 trillion into the global financial system since the crisis, the equivalent of 8pc of the world economy, according to new analysis by Fathom Consulting.

The figures will intensify fears that the extraordinary injection of liquidity is responsible for rising stock markets, rather than any underlying pick-up in corporate health or investor confidence.

Erik Britton, a director at Fathom, compared the development to throwing lighter fuel on a barbecue. The question is, he said, "whether the coals are lit".

The warning is the result of the extraordinary measures to prop up the financial system, which have seen central banks resort to strategies such as buying up bonds to keep the flow of money circulating.

Fathom's economists are worried that last year may have marked the high point of the global recovery. "It remains unclear how much of the equity market rally has been 'genuine', rather than simply a 'mopping up' of that extraordinary injection of liquidity," they warned. "As that stimulus is gradually withdrawn, further gains in equity markets will be harder to achieve."

To reach the £3 trillion figure, presented in its calculations as $5 trillion, Fathom measured the liquidity injections made by the world's four major central banks, by tracking how their balance sheets changed in the wake of the crisis.

The Telegraph