Thursday, January 5, 2012
On Wednesday, the Chinese regime restated its opposition to new US sanctions on Iran. The Foreign Ministry said Iran’s nuclear ambitions should be resolved through diplomatic efforts. The new sanctions affect Iran’s central bank and its ability to sell oil. The Chinese regime is the largest buyer of Iranian oil. But it says its business dealings with Iran will not be affected by the sanctions. China has long defended its oil and trade ties with Iran and criticized Western sanctions that could frustrate those ties.
The above map, while not up to date, gives the layman an overview about what I would call, the impact zone. This is Middle East War, 101. Israel is surrounded by hostile Moslem nations that seek her destruction. The war drums are beating, the troops are moving into position and the impact zone is Israel.
This week Israeli’s and “Palestinians” – there is no such thing as a Palestinian by the way – will meet in Jordan with King Abdullah of Jordan, presiding over the “festivities.” I find it revealing that the meeting is with the King and I have pointed out what I believe will be the end game in the Middle East. That after the coming war, the King will give Jordan to the Palestinians to create the long sought after Palestinian homeland. He will be heralded as the greatest peace maker in history. Watch what happens this week as the talks collapse and the drums of war continue to beat louder.
I blogged about the Straights of Hormuz being the only offensive military option for Iran and just a few days ago Iran ended war games to close Hormuz should they be sanctioned or attacked. This is a very real threat and the Iranians will do their best to accomplish this should they be attacked. This will drive oil prices well above $300 a barrel. Another area to keep an eye on is the Gate of Tears, which another 30 to 40 % of the world’s oil flows through. The Iranians have cells in Yemen and I believe it will be a two-step attack should war erupt. They will close both oil check points.
Meanwhile, HAMAS has thousands of missiles and some newly acquired arms from “liberated” Libya. These are stinger missiles which are hand-held and can bring down helicopters. They were first deployed by the Mujahedeen during the Soviet conflict in Afghanistan.
In the north. Hezbollah has perhaps as many as 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel, and Syria has chemical weapons that are ready to be fired against her too.
Israel is surrounded on all sides by countries that threaten her existentially. Make no mistake about this, the goal of the Arab/Moslem nations that surround her want to annihilate every last Jew in the country. War is coming and we need to brace ourselves for it. While I believe in the Rapture of the church, I find it incredulous that some teachers/pastors are telling their people not to worry because we’re going to get beamed out of here. I find this alarming and would point to WWII and the Jews who saw what was coming and left Nazi Germanybefore the Holocaust began. I would also point out that WWII killed 50 million people and there was no second coming.
In closing today’s Post: There is no sin in stock piling food and water and resources and to prepare for what I see as game changer when the Middle East war erupts. While the most important step we can take is to know Him, the one who gives us eternal life and who died for us 2000 years ago, we should be prepared to meet the future. War is coming and the Middle East is the impact zone….
Soldiers could one day conduct covert operations in complete secrecy, now that Pentagon-backed physicists have figured out how to mask entire events by distorting light.
A team at Cornell University, with support from Darpa, the Pentagon’s out-there research arm, managed to hide an event for 40 picoseconds (those are trillionths of seconds, if you’re counting). They’ve published their groundbreaking research in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.
This is the first time that scientists have succeeded in masking an event, though research teams have in recent years made remarkable strides in cloaking objects. Researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas, last year harnessed the mirage effect to make objects vanish. And in 2010, physicists at the University of St. Andrews made leaps towards using metamaterials to trick human eyes into not seeing what was right in front of them.
Masking an object entails bending light around that object. If the light doesn’t actually hit an object, then that object won’t be visible to the human eye.
Where events are concerned, concealment relies on changing the speed of light. Light that’s emitted from actions, as they happen, is what allows us to see those actions happen. Usually, that light comes in a constant flow. What Cornell researchers did, in simple terms, is tweak that ongoing flow of light — just for a mere iota of time — so that an event could transpire without being observable.
The entire experiment occurred inside a fiber optics cable. Researchers passed a beam of green light down the cable, and had it move through a lens that split the light into two frequencies, one moving slowly and the other faster. As that was happening, they shot a red laser through the beams. Since the laser “shooting” occurred during a teeny, tiny time gap, it was imperceptible.
Sure, the team’s got a ways to go before they’re able to mask 30 seconds of action, let alone several minutes. But the research certainly opens up new possibilities. For one, masking super-quick events, like those that occur with data transmission, could help conceal covert computer operations.
In the words of Nature editors, the research marks “a significant step towards full spatio-temporal cloaking.” But it could be decades before military personnel will basically be able to zap history, as it happens: According to Cornell scientists, it’d take a machine 18,600 miles long to produce a time mask that lasts a single second.
The armies of Saudi Arabia and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states stood ready Thursday Jan. 5, for Washington to stand up to Iranian threats and send an aircraft carrier or several warships through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. Riyadh has been leaning hard on the Obama administration not to let Tehran get away with its warning to react with "full force" if the USS Stennis aircraft carrier tried to reenter the Gulf or Iran's pretensions to control the traffic transiting the world's most important oil route.
Wednesday night, the Iranian parliament began drafting a bill prohibiting foreign warships from entering the Gulf without Tehran's permission.
DEBKAfile's Washington sources report that Saudi Arabia has warned the Obama administration that Iranian leaders mean what they say; their leaders are bent on provoking a military clash with the United States at a time and place of their choosing, rather than leaving the initiative to Washington. To this end, Iranian officials are ratcheting up their belligerence day after day.
Notwithstanding their military inferiority, the Iranians believe they can snatch a measure of success from a military confrontation, just as the Lebanese Hizballah did in the 2006 war against Israel. In any case, they expect any clash to be limited – at least at first. The two sides will begin by feeling for the opposite side's weaknesses while endeavoring to hold the line against a full-blown war.
America's failure to rise to Iran's challenge will confirm its rulers in the conviction that the US is a paper tiger and encourage them to press their advantage for new gains.
The assessment of British military experts Thursday, Jan. 5, was that the question now is: Who will blink first? Will the US follow through on the Pentagon's assertion that the deployment of US military assets in the Persian Gulf will continue as it has for decades? Or will Iran act on its warnings and block those waters to the entry of American warships?
President Barack Obama can't afford to cave in to Iran, especially while campaigning for reelection in Nov. 2012; Tehran, for its part, has made too many threats to easily back down.
The entire region is now on tenterhooks for the next move, with US, Iranian and Gulf armies on the highest war alert. American and Iranian war planners both accept that their advantage lies in surprising the enemy – without, however, catapulting the Persian Gulf into a full-dress war.
US Navy publications as of Wednesday, Jan. 4 showed a sign of the times: One ran a series of photos of F-18 Super Hornet fighter-bombers standing on the runways of the USS Stennis aircraft carrier ready for takeoff at any moment. Another depicted for the first time ever row upon row of huge bombs in the carrier's hold to show the Iranians what they are taking on.
In the view of DEBKAfile’s military sources, the fact that the US has deployed only one large aircraft carrier in the region does not signify any reluctance on Washington's part to preserve the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. There is no longer a need to rush more carriers to a flashpoint in these strategic waters. The US maintains five huge air bases in the Gulf region – two, the Ali Al Salem and Ahmed Al Jaber bases, in Kuwait; the Al Dhafra base in the UAE; and the largest air bases outside the US – Al Adid in Qatar and the Thumrait in Oman.
The concentration of aircraft carriers at any given location is no longer treated as the marker of an imminent US military operation.
The United States will continue to deploy its warships in the Gulf, a defense spokesman said on Tuesday after Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf.
"These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations," Commander Bill Speaks said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.
"The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce," he said.
When asked later Tuesday if the U.S. intends to send naval reinforcements to the Gulf in response to Iranian talk of closing the Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokesperson George Little did not answer directly but said, "No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz. It's important to lower the temperature."
Also referring to Iranian threats on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. saw "these threats from Tehran as just increasing evidence that the international pressure is beginning to bite."
"They are feeling increasingly isolated and they are trying to divert the attention of their own public from the difficulties inside Iran, including the economic difficulties as a result of sanctions," Nuland told a news briefing.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran said it would take action if a U.S. aircraft carrier which left the area because of Iranian naval exercises returns to the Gulf. The state news agency IRNA quoted army chief Ataollah Salehi as saying that "Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf."
Iran completed 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf on Monday, and said during the drills that if foreign powers imposed sanctions on its crude exports it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's traded oil is shipped.
The U.S. Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, said it would not allow shipping to be disrupted in the strait.
Iran said on Monday it had successfully test-fired two long-range missiles during its naval drill, flexing its military muscle in the face of mounting Western pressure over its controversial nuclear program.
Iran also said it had no intention of closing the Strait of Hormuz but had carried out "mock" exercises on shutting the strategic waterway.
(Reuters) - Iran has alternatives in place to let it cope with a threatened European Union embargo on its oil and increased U.S. pressure, and plans to keep up exports of some 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, a senior Iranian oil official said.
EU governments have reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude to the European Union but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.
Tehran had already considered different routes if that were to happen, S. M. Qamsari, International Director of the National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), told Reuters by telephone from Tehran shortly before the report on the EU stance emerged.
"We could very easily replace those customers," said Qamsari. Some, but not all, of any displaced volume could move into China as well as other Asian countries and Africa, he said. Iran was unlikely just to store crude on tankers as that was only a short-term solution.
He said he expected shipments would remain unchanged this year and the volume of term, or annual, contracts was unchanged.
"We've got very high demand from our lifters, so we have the same quantity (just above 2.3 million bpd) in our term contracts," Qamsari said.
Roughly 30 percent, or just under 700,000 bpd, of Iran's oil steams west of Suez, he said. More than half that volume is shipped to Europe, roughly 200,000 bpd goes to Turkey and the remainder is routed into Africa.
The International Energy Agency estimates Iran exports about 450,000 bpd to the European Union.
The NIOC official said Europe's longstanding buyers of Iranian crude - among them France's Total and Italy's Eni - have voiced concern about potential EU sanctions, but had yet to cut back on contractual supplies.
Any punitive moves by Brussels could cause European consumers to suffer through higher prices at the pump, he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear program that Washington believes is aimed at weapons development, has enforced new sanctions that could hurt Tehran's oil exports by preventing refiners from paying up.
Qamsari said Washington's tough tactics had already made life difficult. "We our supplying our crude, but receiving the money with some difficulty - for sure," he said. Tehran had "created some channels" for payments, he added.
The Islamic Republic's oil sales to China, its single biggest buyer, have meanwhile decreased this month as the two sides haggle over 2012 contractual payment terms, trade sources said. Top refiner Sinopec Corp will buy less than half the crude it typically imports from Iran, they said.
"It is to some extent true," said Qamsari, explaining that Iran's term crude oil contracts with China were up for renewal this month. Two of three contractors had agreed volumes, while the third party was still in negotiations. "We're making good progress and hope to finalize soon," he said.
Iran designated about 440,000 bpd of contract volume for China last year, he said, and was aiming to supply the same amount in 2012. Additional quantities are also offered on the spot market.
The Iranian state oil marketer typically designates about 10 percent of its overall oil sales to the spot market. Qamsari said that remained the case, and that Tehran was not offering additional spot volumes.
"I wish we could be - the market is quite strong," he said. "But we don't have the availability."
Tehran has warned it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, a shipping chokepoint through which more than 40 percent of the world's oil is shipped, if sanctions were imposed on its crude exports.
"My wish is that won't happen," he said. His aim was to help NIOC's marketing operations stay clear of politics.
"We've been trying to separate our crude oil business from politics."
Do you know who the dragon is?
|Isa 27:1||In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.|
|Rev 12:9||And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.|
In the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon - marking a year of transition, uncertainty and change.
The Asia-Pacific economies certainly face considerable uncertainty as well as headwinds in 2012, with the eurozone already sliding into recession at the end of 2011, while the momentum of US economic recovery - although encouraging in recent months - remains moderate at best.
The Year of the Dragon will also be a year characterised by political uncertainty, with presidential elections in the US and France, as well as leadership change in China.
In autumn 2012, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will elect the new Central Committee and Politburo Standing Committee members.
The current President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are due to step down from the Standing Committee to make way for the next generation of leaders from whom the new Chinese president and premier will be appointed in March 2013.
Despite the political and economic uncertainties facing the global economy, the Asia-Pacific (Apac) is forecast to continue to be the fastest growing region of the world economy in 2012, with growth rising to 5.3% from 4.5% in 2011.
This forecast is based on the IHS Global Insight central case scenario that the eurozone experiences only a mild recession in 2012, with gross domestic product (GDP) declining by 0.7%, while moderate positive growth continues in the US, at a pace of 2.0%.Supporting pillars
Three key factors underpin the resilience of Apac economic growth.
First, as I mentioned, the continued US economic recovery in 2012. Second, China - the world's second-largest economy - is expected to have a soft landing in 2012, with growth moderating to 7.8%, rather than a major slowdown that some fear.
Domestic demand is expected to underpin economic growth momentum, with latest economic data showing retail sales up 17.3% in November on a year ago, and fixed asset investment in November up 21.2% year-on-year.
The Chinese government has also embarked on a programme to build 36 million housing units for low-income households over 2011-2015, with construction of the first 10 million of these units having commenced in 2011.
Continued growth in Chinese demand for exports from the rest of Asia will help to mitigate the impact of weaker export demand from the recession-hit eurozone.
Third, the Japanese economy is expected to achieve a moderate rebound in 2012, due to the normalisation of industrial production and the impact of fiscal stimulus, as post-disaster reconstruction steps up.
Japanese industrial production is forecast to grow by 9.5% in 2012, after a 2.8% decline in 2011. This Japanese growth rebound provides a third important mitigating factor to the impact of the eurozone recession.Weak links?
Despite the resilience of the Apac economies, the more export-dependent East Asian economies - such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong - are expected to experience some moderation in economic growth due to weaker eurozone demand.
India is also experiencing softening growth momentum due to the impact of 13 interest rate hikes since March 2010, as the Reserve Bank of India grapples with persistent inflationary pressures.
However, elsewhere in Apac, inflationary pressures are abating, with China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam among the countries that have seen headline inflation edging lower in recent months.
The outlook for 2012 is, for most emerging Asian central banks, to pursue more accommodative monetary policy stances - albeit cautiously - as inflationary pressures abate, providing some further support for economic growth.Risk factors
The greatest risk to the Apac outlook continues to come from the eurozone.
Should efforts by the eurozone governments to stabilise the economy fail, the region could enter an escalating economic crisis.
Any such development has the potential to trigger a global recession with severe negative shocks transmitted to Asian economies through declining world trade, a deepening global credit crunch and the risk aversion triggering capital flight from emerging markets.
The second key risk to the Apac region would be if the Chinese economy experiences a hard landing, with GDP growth declining below 5%.
While the probability of the China hard landing scenario is still low, at around 25%, nevertheless imbalances and vulnerabilities in the Chinese economy have increased over the past two years.
A key vulnerability comes from the 50% expansion in bank credit in 2009-2010 and the accompanying rapid growth in local government borrowing, which is expected to result in significant increases in Chinese banking sector non-performing loans over the medium term.
Therefore, although the Apac economic outlook is for a resilient economic performance in 2012, risks and uncertainties abound in the Year of the Dragon.
Since the S&P500 definitively broke support in the 1,250's in early August of 2011 every rally approaching that key level has been repelled, often violently. The result was the choppy, brutal, ugly and ultimately pointless gyrations resulting in a lost year for stocks.
After the bullish rush of early 2012, here we are again, attempting to stay above 1,260 and stay there. J.C. Parets, founder of AllStarCharts.com, isn't so sure this time is any different. Describing the aforementioned breakdown of last summer as "devastating for U.S. equities," Parets is taking a "show-me" approach to the tape, looking for a consolidation of the December and early January gains, for starters.
And what he really wants to see is sector rotation. The broader tape isn't going to make any substantive progress unless the "risk-on" sectors start leading the way higher. Energy (XLE), Industrials (XLI), and the Basic materials (XLB) that typically move higher in robust economic times need to show some positive price action for Parets to embrace a breakout.
If the tape manages to move higher without those groups leading, Parets is casting a furtive eye towards the much hyped 1,350 target level, a mere 6 or 7% higher than where we closed 2011. The strategist isn't suggesting a flat-out move to the sidelines, but simply trading smaller and erring on the side of caution.
No matter what you see on TV, there is a middle ground between Bullish and Bearish. In environments such as this, Parets' advice is simple: "Trade smaller, you don't have to be all in at all times." Take partial positions and get your arms around the tenor of the tape; simple advice you don't hear very often, to the detriment of our all or nothing investment attitude.
It's exactly the strategy I've been using for months under the label "long-ish" but that doesn't make it right for everyone.
We have all been lied to. For decades, the leaders of both major political parties have promised us that they can fix our current system and that they can get our national debt under control. As the 2012 election approaches, they are making all kinds of wild promises once again. Well you know what? It is all a giant sham. The United States has gotten into so much debt that there will be no coming back from this. The current system is irretrievably broken. 30 years ago the U.S. debt was a horrific crisis that was completely and totally out of control. If we would have dealt with it back then maybe we could have done something about it. But now it is15 times larger, and we are adding more than a trillion dollars to the debt every single year. The facts that you are about to read below should set America on fire with anger. Please share them with as many people as you can. What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is absolutely nightmarish. Words like "abuse", "financial rape", "theft" and "crime" do not even begin to describe what we are doing to future generations. We were the wealthiest nation on earth, but it wasn't good enough just to squander all of our own money. We had to squander the money of our children and our grandchildren as well. America has been so selfish and so self-centered that it is hard to argue that we don't deserve what is about to happen to this country. We have stolen the future of America, and yet we strut around as if we are the smartest generation that ever walked the face of the earth.
All of this prosperity that we see all around us is just an illusion. It is a false prosperity that has been purchased by the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.
Did you know that if you added up all forms of debt in the United States and divided it up equally that every single family in the country would owe more than $683,000?
We are a nation that is absolutely addicted to debt, and the U.S. debt crisis threatens to destroy everything that our forefathers built.
Yes, everything may seem fine for the moment, but what do you think would happen if the federal government suddenly adopted a balanced budget?
1.3 trillion dollars a year would be sucked right out of the economy and we would be looking at an "economic readjustment" that would be mind blowing.
Enjoy this false prosperity while you can, because it is not going to last.
Debt is a very cruel master, and our day of reckoning is almost here.
The following are 34 shocking facts about U.S. debt that should set America on fire with anger....
#1 During fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent 3.7 trillion dollars but it only brought in 2.4 trillion dollars.
#2 When Ronald Reagan took office, the U.S. national debt was less than 1 trillion dollars. Today, the U.S. national debt is over 15.2 trillion dollars.
#3 During 2011, U.S. debt surpassed 100 percent of GDP for the first time ever.
#4 According to Wikipedia, the monetary base "consists of coins, paper money (both as bank vault cash and as currency circulating in the public), and commercial banks' reserves with the central bank." Currently the U.S. monetary base is sitting somewhere around 2.7 trillion dollars. So if you went out and gathered all of that money up it would only make a small dent in our national debt. But afterwards there would be no currency for anyone to use.
#5 The U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt during fiscal 2011.
#6 The U.S. government has total assets of 2.7 trillion dollars and has total liabilities of 17.5 trillion dollars. The liabilities do not even count 4.7 trillion dollars of intragovernmental debt that is currently outstanding.
#7 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
#8 It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will surpass 23 trillion dollars in 2015.
#9 According to the GAO, the U.S. government is facing 34 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities for social insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare. These are obligations that we have already committed ourselves to but that we do not have any money for.
#10 Others estimate that the unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government now total over 117 trillion dollars.
#11 According to the GAO, the ratio of debt held by the public to GDP is projected to reach 287 percent of GDP by 2086.
#12 Others are much less optimistic. A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.
#13 The United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.
#14 If you divide up the national debt equally among all U.S. taxpayers, each taxpayer would owe approximately $134,685.
#15 Mandatory federal spending surpassed total federal revenue for the first time ever in fiscal 2011. That was not supposed to happen until 50 years from now.
#16 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.
#17 During Barack Obama's first two years in office, the U.S. government added more to the U.S. national debt than the first 100 U.S. Congresses combined.
#18 When you add up all spending by the federal government, state governments and local governments, it comes to 46.6% of GDP.
#19 Our nation is more addicted to government checks than ever before. In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.
#20 U.S. households are now actually receiving more money directly from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes.
#21 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
#22 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#23 In 1950, each retiree's Social Security benefit was paid for by 16U.S. workers. According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now only 1.75 full-time private sector workers for each person that is receiving Social Security benefits in the United States.
#24 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run outfive years faster than they were projecting just last year.
#25 Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.
#26 If the U.S. government was forced to use GAAP accounting principles (like all publicly-traded corporations must), the U.S. government budget deficit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 trillion to $5 trillion each and every year.
#27 If you were alive when Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now. But this year alone the U.S. government is going to add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt.
#28 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#29 A trillion $10 bills, if they were taped end to end, would wrap around the globe more than 380 times. That amount of money would still not be enough to pay off the U.S. national debt.
#30 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 470,000 years to pay off the national debt.
#31 If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
#32 According to Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the U.S. is facing a "fiscal gap" of over 200 trillion dollars in the future. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article that he did for CNN....
The government's total indebtedness -- its fiscal gap -- now stands at $211 trillion, by my arithmetic. The fiscal gap is the difference, measured in present value, between all projected future spending obligations -- including our huge defense expenditures and massive entitlement programs, as well as making interest and principal payments on the official debt -- and all projected future taxes.
#33 If you add up all forms of debt in the United States (government, business and consumer), it comes to more than 56 trillion dollars. That is more than$683,000 per family. Unfortunately, the average amount of savings per family in the U.S. is only about $4,735.
#34 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.
But do our leaders care about statistics such as these?
In fact, Barack Obama says that we need to raise the debt limit by another 1.2 trillion dollars.
The absurdity of raising the debt limit when we are already in so much debt is beautifully illustrated by the video posted below....
I just thought that video was so well done.
The "huge cuts" that Congress has agreed to are absolutely meaningless when compared to how rapidly our debt is exploding.
Calling those cuts "pocket change" would be an insult to pocket change.
But it is not just U.S. debt that is the problem. The European debt crisisthreatens to completely unravel in 2012 and Japan actually has the highest debt to GDP ratio in the entire industrialized world.
In 2012, a total of 7,600,000,000,000 dollars of debt must be rolled over by the G-7 nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
That doesn't even count new borrowing. That number just represents old debts that are coming due that must be refinanced.
Anyone out there that insists that this debt bubble can be fixed under our current system is lying.
A massive amount of financial pain is coming.
It is time for Americans to wake up from their television-induced comas.
It is time for Americans to get very angry.
Your future has been destroyed and the future of your children and grandchildren has been destroyed.
Gold futures jumped the most in 10 weeks on demand for a haven following a report that Iran produced its first nuclear-fuel rod. Silver surged the most in five months as the dollar’s decline spurred a commodity rally.
A domestically-made rod was inserted into the core of Tehran’s atomic-research reactor, the Iranian Students News Agency said yesterday. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies as global manufacturing expanded, spurring demand for raw materials perceived as riskier assets. Blackstone Group LP’s Byron Wien, who correctly predicted last year’s gain in gold, said the metal will rally 15 percent in 2012 to $1,800 an ounce.
“Fear trade is back because of Iran,” Adam Klopfenstein, a market strategist at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Also, we are seeing buying across commodities because of the weaker dollar.”
Gold futures for February delivery climbed 2.2 percent to settle at $1,600.50 at 1:38 p.m. on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Oct. 25.
The price rallied 10 percent last year, the 11th straight annual advance.
“Accommodative monetary policies throughout the developed world cause a renewed migration to hard assets by individual investors and sovereign-wealth funds,” Wien of Blackstone said today in a report.
Last month, the metal slumped 10 percent, touching a five- month low of $1,523.90 on Dec. 29.
Hedge funds and other money managers cut bets on higher prices for gold futures by 4.5 percent to 111,919 contracts in the week ended Dec. 27, the lowest since January 2009, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show.
The drop in bullish bets is “suggesting plenty of upside price potential once sentiment improves,” James Moore, an analyst at TheBullionDesk.com in London, said in a report.
Silver futures for March delivery jumped 5.9 percent to $29.572 an ounce on the Comex, the biggest increase since July 13 and the leading advance among 24 raw materials in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index.
Silver will rise to $40 this year, Wien of Blackstone said.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, palladium futures for March delivery climbed 1.1 percent to $663.50 an ounce. Platinum futures for April delivery advanced 2 percent to $1,432.50 an ounce.
The euro has dropped to its lowest rate against the dollar in 16 months as concerns continue over the health of Europe's banks.
The euro fell to $1.2797 against the dollar and was at an 11-year low versus the yen.
Markets were unsettled after France's cost of borrowing rose and a Spanish minister suggested its banks may face a higher bad loan bill.
Bank stocks dropped, with shares in Italy's UniCredit at a 19-year low.
Luis de Guindos, Spain's economy minister, told the Financial Times that its banks may face up to 50bn euros ($64.2bn, £41.3bn) in new bad loans - higher than previous public estimates by the government.
On Thursday, Spain also unveiled more austerity measures - after outlining 8.9bn euros in new spending cuts and tax rises last week.
Spain said its social security deficit was worse than expected in 2011 and aims to recover 8.2bn euros that has been lost to tax fraud this year.
This is the latest in a wave of austerity measures, with a total of 16.5bn euros to be cut in 2012.
French bank stocks fell, with Societe Generale down 4.3% and BNP Paribas down 4%.
Germany's Deutsche Bank fell more than 5%, with Commerzbank down almost as much.
Spain's Santander dropped 3.6%. Italy's UniCredit fell 10% and its shares were suspended for the second day in a row.
Italy and Spain - both passing painful spending cuts - will have to sell billions of debt in the coming months.French debt sale
France sold 8bn euros of bonds at an auction, paying an interest rate of 3.29% to borrow for 10 years, up from 3.18% at the last sale in December.
Many investors fear that France is poised to lose its top credit rating, making it more expensive to borrow.
In December, France saw its AAA credit rating placed on negative outlook by rating agency Fitch.
Fitch said the change in outlook was prompted by the heightened risk of government liabilities arising from the eurozone's debt crisis.
At Thursday's sale, demand from investors for the benchmark 10-year bonds had fallen.
The bid-to-cover ratio was 1.64, almost half of the 3.05 it was in the December auction.
France introduced a 65bn-euro austerity plan in November.
The gap, or spread, on French bonds compared to comparable debt from Germany - Europe's largest economy - hit record highs last year.
Iran's alleged development of fuel rods won't put it closer to producing nuclear weapons, experts say; Turkey's FM arrives in Tehran to discuss Islamic Republic's atom program
Iran's latest claim of a breakthrough in its nuclear program seems unlikely to bring it any closer to having atomic bombs soon, but serves rather as another defiant message to the West.
This week's announcement that Iran has successfully made and tested fuel rods for use in nuclear power plants appeared designed to show that sanctions are failing to halt its technical advances and to strengthen its hand in any renewed negotiations with the major powers.
Spent fuel can be reprocessed to make plutonium, potential bomb material, but Western worries about Iran's nuclear program are focused on its enrichment of uranium, which can also provide the core of nuclear weapons if refined much more.
"The (fuel rod) development itself doesn't put them any closer to producing weapons," said Peter Crail of the Arms Control Association, a US-based research and advocacy group.
Bushehr nuclear power plant (Photo: Reuters)
It could be a way of telling Tehran's foes that time is running out if they want to revive an atomic fuel swap deal that collapsed two years ago but is still seen by some experts as offering the best chance to start building badly needed trust.
Diplomats believe Iran has in the past overstated its nuclear progress to gain leverage in its standoff with Western capitals, and the testing of domestically made fuel does not mean the country is about to start using it to run reactors.
"It is a step in the direction of no longer needing supply from other countries," said Associate Professor Matthew Bunn of Harvard University's Kennedy School.
"But it will be a good number of months or years before it will be at the point where they no longer need supply from other countries."
Even if the fuel step is confirmed, it may not add much to already growing Western suspicions that Iran is seeking the capability to manufacture nuclear arms, a charge it denies.
Turkey's FM in Tehran for nuke talks
Western powers fear that Iran's uranium enrichment program is part of a covert bid to develop the means to build atomic weapons – suspicions that were given independent weight by a detailed UN nuclear watchdog report late last year.
The Islamic Republic says it is refining uranium – material which can have both civilian and military purposes – only for a planned network of nuclear power plants and it could point to the development of fuel rods to back this up.
Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for talks with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, on Iran's atom program and developments in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Ahmet Davutoglu's visit was described as being in the framework of regular talks between the two ministers, but it comes at a key time for the region and relations between the two regional powers.
"It is intended that they will exchange views on topical subjects such as Iran's nuclear program and developments in Syria and Iraq," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. Davutoglu's visit was set to finish on Thursday.