We will have a mirror site at http://nunezreport.wordpress.com in case we are censored, Please save the link

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lindsey Williams: 2012 the beginning of the End

Israel Vice PM: Military strike can hit all of Iran's nuclear facilities

All of Iran's nuclear faculties are vulnerable to a military strike, Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Thursday, calling the potential of a nuclear Iran a "nightmare to the free world."

At the closing day of the Herzliya Conference, Ya’alon referred to the many tools at the international community's disposal that could serve to slow down or stop Iran's advancement toward nuclear weapons capability: international pressure, economic sanctions, support of Iranian opposition, and military actions.

Speaking of the possibility of a military strike of Iran's nuclear facilities, the vice PM said that "the West has the ability to strike, but as long as Iran isn't convinced that there's a determination to follow through with it, they'll continue with their manipulations."

"The Iranians believe that a determination isn’t still there, both in regards to military action and in regards to sanctions," Ya'alon said, adding that "any facility protected by humans can be infiltrated by humans. It's possible to strike all Iran's facilities, and I say that out of my experience as IDF chief of staff."

The vice PM's comments seem to counter reported remarks by U.S. defense officials quoted last week by the Wall Street Journal, according to which the Pentagon was not in possession of conventional arms strong enough to destroy all of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Ya'alon reiterated the Israeli stance that a nuclear Iran was a global threat, saying that "if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it would be a nightmare for the free world, a nightmare for Arab states…and of course a threat to the State of Israel."

"We'll see a more intense undermining of regional regimes and the acceleration of terror attacks against those regimes, as well as against Israel and western states, with the United States at the forefront," Ya'alon said.

The former IDF chief also indicated that an explosion which virtually destroyed an Iran Revolutionary Guard missile base near Tehran late last year targeted a system "getting ready to produce a missile with a range of 10,000 kilometers, thus threatening the United States."

"The Iranian threat is not a case of Iran Vs. Israel. Israel has never declared war on Iran, but the Khomeinistic regime has declared total war on the States of Israel's very existence," Ya'alon added, saying that Iran was interested in repelling a perceived western hegemony around the world and not just in the Middle East.

Ya'alon's comments came after, earlier Thursday, Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi said that Iran's ability to obtain nuclear weapons was solely dependent on the will of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, adding that Israel was threatened by about 200,000 missiles at any given time.


Mega volcanoes 'may be predicted'

The eruption of some of the largest volcanoes on the planet could be predicted several decades before the event, according to researchers.

Analysis of rock crystals from the Greek island of Santorini suggests eruptions are preceded by a fast build-up of magma underground, which might be detected using modern instrumentation.

Such volcanoes can produce enough ash and gas to temporarily change the global climate.

The research is in the journal Nature.

Volcanologists refer to history's largest volcanoes as "caldera-forming eruptions", as the magma ejected is so voluminous that it leaves a massive depression on the Earth's surface and a crater-like structure known as a caldera.

The largest of these volcanoes have been dubbed "supervolcanoes" and their eruptions can trigger devastation with global impacts.

Such volcanoes can lie dormant for hundreds of thousands of years before blowing. But while researchers believe seismic data and other readings would give us a few month's notice of such an eruption, the new study suggests we might anticipate these events much earlier.

"When volcanoes awaken and when the magma starts to ascend to the surface, cracking rock as it does, it sends out signals," Prof Tim Druitt of France's Blaise Pascal University and lead researcher told BBC News.

"You get seismic signals, you get deformation of the surface, increasing gas emission at the surface - and this can be detected.

"The question we're addressing here is what's going on at depth prior to these big eruptions. The classical view was that during long repose periods over thousands of years, magma slowly accumulates a few kilometres below the volcano and finally it blows.

"What we're finding is that there's an acceleration phase of magma build-up on a time scale of a few decades, and that's surprisingly short given the thousands of years of repose that have preceded that eruption."

The evidence comes from analysis of crystals in pumice rock from the Santorini site, which the researchers in France, Switzerland and Singapore analysed using modern instrumentation including electron and ion microprobes.

"The changes in composition of the crystals with time provide little histories of how the magma itself has evolved," said Prof Druitt.

"What we found was that all the crystals in the magma grew within a few decades of the eruption."


Kochavi: Iran has uranium for 4 nuclear bombs

"Iran's motivations are: to create hegemony in the region; deterrence; and to become an international player," Kochavi said. "They claim that they are developing the program for peaceful purposes but our intelligence shows without a doubt that Iran is continuing its work on developing a nuclear weapon."

Despite Iran's continued development of its program, international sanctions are effective and have the potential to significantly undermine the regime's continued efforts.

Kochavi said that Israel was currently threatened by 200,000 rockets and missiles in the hands of Israel's enemies. The missiles, he said, currently covered the entire State of Israel and were growing in their ranges and the size of their warheads.

He also said that Iran's Quds Force - responsible for the regime's overseas military operations - was continuing its efforts to carry out an attacks against Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world.

Last month, two Iranian attempts to launch an attack against Israeli embassies were thwarted in Azerbaijan and Thailand.

Jerusalem Post

Gerald Celente - Info News - February 1st 2012

Risk of 'Accidental' Gulf War on the Rise

Everything on display last week in the Strait of Hormuz was pure theater. There were tough words, risky posturing, well-acted one-person pieces and even a taste the risqué, but not much in terms of a plot.

Or at least that's how it was on the stage of the fifth Fujairah International Monodrama Festival (FIMF).

"The world passes through here," the festival's director said during the opening ceremony on Jan. 22. With that, he was hardly referring to the flotilla of warships approaching the small emirate of Fujairah at that very moment, made up of the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, a guided missile cruiser, two destroyers, the British frigate HMS Argyll and the French frigate La Motte-Picquet. All of them were sailing west through the Strait of Hormuz toward the Persian Gulf. The US military already refers to this zone as a "theater," a possible scene of combat.

The Persian Gulf hasn't seen this kind of display of naval power since the final campaign against Saddam Hussein. Indeed, its size has prompted many to wonder whether it is merely posturing and bluffing or, rather, a sign of an upcoming fourth war in the Gulf.

Two other American aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS John C. Stennis, are cruising in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. In late December, Iran held one of its most elaborate naval exercises in its recent history, and ones that also involved cruise missiles and minelayers. Iranian Rear Adm. Mahmoud Mousavi, a spokesman for the drill, said it was meant to "to prepare the navy for confronting the enemy in war situations."

With Iran's coastline bristling with missiles, the Revolutionary Guards' flotilla of armed speedboats and their submarine bunkers, so much military might is concentrating in the area that any incident could spark a new Gulf war.

Indeed, Patrick Seale, a British expert on the Middle East, warns that a war could also "break out by accident."Sanctions against Iran's central bank and its oil exports, he writes, could "create a climate of hysterical nationalism that could trigger a clash." Such a war, warns Rami G. Khouri, a scholar at the American University of Beirut, would not be "your usual Middle Eastern little flare-up or local war that the region has experienced and survived for so many decades."

The Aorta of the Oil Trade

In geological terms, the Strait of Hormuz lies near to where two continental plates collide. Here, the Arabian plate slides under the Eurasian one. Tectonic shifts pushed up the mountains near Fujairah and brought the region its oil. Twenty percent of the world's crude oil comes from the Gulf region. Of that, over 80 percent, or almost 17 million metric tons per day, makes its way on ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

The economies of Japan and South Korea depend on oil from the Gulf which covers as much as three quarters of their oil needs. For China's economy, it's over half. Were the strait to be blocked, only a certain portion of this oil could be pumped through Saudi Arabia's East-West Pipeline to the Red Sea. A pipeline being built by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to carry crude oil from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah won't be ready to enter into service until the summer, at the earliest. The container port of Dubai, a major hub in east-west seaborne trade, is just as dependent upon the strait as the seaports of Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

The Strait of Hormuz is not merely an artery of the oil trade. It's the aorta. Since time immemorial, traders and smugglers have flourished here, crossing to and fro between the Arab side and the big ports on the Persian shore. Already in the 13th century, Marco Polo described the strait as a hub of long-distance trade. When discussing the strait in his "Travels," Polo wrote that many ships there "are lost, for in that Sea of India the storms are often terrible."

These days, Iranian speedboats come into Khasab every morning, a small port town near the tip of the rocky Musandam Peninsula, the Omani exclave sticking out like a thumb into the Strait of Hormuz. There, they load up on flat-screen TVs, suspicious packages and machine parts before disappearing back across the Strait up to five times a day. Indeed, Khasab is the duty-free market for southern Iran. As sanctions on Iran have gotten tighter, business there has only gotten better.

According to the so-called "Carter Doctrine" proclaimed in 1980 by then-US President Jimmy Carter, an "attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." Over three decades later, this doctrine continues to be the basis of the United States' strategy in the Gulf. In a letter sent to Iranian leaders in early January, US President Barack Obama warned that blockading the Strait would be tantamount to crossing a "red line" and would provoke a massive response. Iran has made repeated threats to do just that should international sanctions be imposed on its oil exports -- which has been the case since last Monday.

Iran Has 2,000 Naval Mines

Since Iran reformed its armed forces in 2007, the dedicated naval forces of the Revolutionary Guards (informally known as the "pasdaran") have been responsible for the Persian Gulf. Indeed, the mullahs have effectively sidelined Iran's traditional navy, whose ships date back to the pre-1979 era of the shah. Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, the Revolutionary Guards' senior naval officer, recently stated that Iranian troops could have launched successful attacks against US ships during the so-called "tanker war" of 1984, when the Persian Gulf was a theater in the larger war between Iraq and Iran. In 1988, an Iranian mine almost caused the USS Samuel B. Roberts, an American guided missile frigate, to capsize.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have about 2,000 naval mines in its arsenal, though it would only take 300 of them to disrupt tanker traffic through the strait. At its narrowest point, the strait is only 54 kilometers (34 miles) wide. US experts assume that, in the case of war, Iran would utilize a "hybrid strategy" of guerilla hit-and-run tactics and ultra-modern weapons.

Although Iran's rugged coastline already offers natural defensive advantages, it is reportedly being fortified with bunkers, tunnels and rocket systems. The Guards are equipped with speedboats patterned off racing boats made by the Italian firm Fabio Buzzi Design, which can reach speeds of up to 70 knots (130 kilometers/80 miles) per hour.

Iran also boasts the only submarine fleet among states bordering the Gulf, including Iranian-built miniature submarines ideally suited for the Strait of Hormuz's relatively shallow waters. Incidentally, the two British and French frigates currently cruising in the region are equipped with state-of-the-art anti-submarine systems. For example, what the British describe as the "revolutionary design" of the HMS Argyll supposedly makes the ship appear no larger than a fishing boat on a radar screen. But there won't be much time for fishing.

In 1971, when the shah still ruled Iran, the country occupied three islands in the area near the strait, including Abu Musa, which lies just 40 nautical miles from Dubai. The island is of immense strategic importance since forces operating from it can control west-bound traffic into the strait.

What's more, all of the booming cities in the region, from Doha to Dubai, lie within range of Iranian short- and mid-range missiles. Indeed, this fact has unsettled local rulers even more than the financial crisis. Should a conflict erupt, the UAE expects that Iran will launch retaliatory attacks against its loading ports, refineries and desalination plants. Likewise, populated areas in the Gulf states are ideal targets for these kinds of attacks. Shiite Iran has consistently stressed its claim to the Gulf against the Sunni ruling houses on its other side -- and especially the House of Saud -- who collaborate with the United States.

Embargo 'Could Paralyze Iran'

At the moment, the United States has about 40,000 soldiers in the Gulf region, on ships and on military bases in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain. Indeed, one of the US Navy's most important bases happens to be located in Bahrain, a majority Shiite Gulf archipelago that Iran already claims as its own. Ever since the protest movement was violently quashed there last year, the Navy has been considering moving its Fifth Fleet from Manama, Bahrain's capital, to Qatar.

The embargo imposed by the EU last week will affect a fifth of Iran's oil exports. "Should separate US sanctions succeed (in coercing) Japan and South Korea to stop their imports from Iran, Tehran will literally be paralyzed," analyst Joseph Kechichian wrote in an op-ed piece published last Thursday in the Dubai-based English daily Gulf News. In that case, he adds, India and China would be "in a position to demand sharp discounts" for oil, thereby obligating Iran "to dump its remaining oil production at discount prices."

That would hit Iran hard. In retaliation, Iran's parliament announced last week its intensions to immediately halt all oil deliveries to EU member states. Although other oil-supplying countries have already announced they will help should the threat materialize, the boycott would particularly have negative effects on Italy and Greece. "Europe will burn in the fire of Iran's oil wells," said Nasser Soudani , a member of the parliament's energy committee on Wednesday.

Of course, the threat might be nothing more than theatrical posturing, bluffing and swaggering in the run-up to eventual negotiations. Indeed, both sides are aware of the dangers of a new war in the Gulf. But if there is a ticking time bomb, it has undoubtedly been set to explode on the day the European oil embargo goes into effect. That is July 1, 2012.


American Airlines may cut up to 15,000 jobs

American Airlines officials were meeting with their three major unions amid reports that the bankrupt airline company is making plans to eliminate up to 15,000 jobs.

Representatives of the Allied Pilots Association, Transport Workers Union, and Association of Professional Flight Attendants were meeting with company officials in Dallas, said Sam Mayer, a long-time American pilot who sits on the union's communication committee. The three unions represent about 54,000 total employees.

"Right now we have no idea what they're going to be asking for as far as pay cuts, work rules, job cuts, furloughs, etc.," Mayer said.

Reuters, quoting an unnamed source who was at the meeting, reported that AMR Chief Executive Tom Horton told the unions, "We will end this journey with many fewer people."

Horton also said the airline intends to emerge as an independent company, according to one of the sources who attended the meeting with the unions, Reuters reported.

American Airlines did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Mayer added that "just because they ask for something today doesn't mean they're going to get it. The company makes their proposal and we begin negotiating with them. That's what will happen with all three unions."

For other major airlines that wen through bankruptcy, he continued, "the final agreement looked nothing like the original proposal by management."

AMR has been operating under bankruptcy protection since November and is in negotiations with its unions over cost-cutting measures.

Bloomberg, citing industry analysts, reported that American was preparing to offer contracts that would eliminate 10,000 to 15,00 jobs and freeze pensions.

American employs about 74,000 full- and part-time workers plus 14,000 at regional carrier American Eagle, Bloomberg said.

AMR reported a loss of $904 million in December alone.

The Bottom Line

'Begin military plans to thwart Iran nukes'

Iran is working to obtain a nuclear weapon, a former CIA chief said Wednesday while visiting Israel, and the US should begin military preparations to block the Islamic Republic from reaching that goal.

“To believe anything other than that Iran is working to get a nuclear weapon is hopelessly naive,” James Woolsey said in an interview on the sidelines of the Herzliya Conference.

“At some point someone is going to have to decide to use force to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. I’d argue that those who say we can deal adequately with Iran through deterrence are quite naive.

“National survival is at issue. In the near term that’s the case for Israel, but in the somewhat longer term it is [the case] for the US, which from Iran’s point of view, is the ‘Great Satan,’” he continued. “This is a world-class problem, not an easternMediterranean or Persian Gulf problem. The politics of the world will change if this regime gets the bomb.”

Woolsey, a graduate of Yale Law School, was CIA director under president Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995. The veteran intelligence official identifies himself as a Democrat, but has held high-level positions in administrations from both major parties, and has long advocated a robust US foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

Today, the 70-year-old is chairman of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank.

Woolsey said commentators who view the Iranian nuclear threat through the prism of Cold War deterrence are misreading history.

“By the 1960s, the Soviets were operating with a nearly dead ideology,” he said.

“Though the Soviet leadership had many flaws – and I’m delighted we won the Cold War instead of them – by that time fanaticism was not one of their characteristics, at least for most of them.”

Debates over whether the Iranian regime is rational, he said, also miss the point.

“People who believe there are only two categories of individual – the rational and the stark-raving mad – are quite untutored in human psychology and human history,” he said.

“It’s not only raving lunatics who want to destroy a country, culture or civilization they hate.”

Woolsey said Iran’s theocratic leadership promotes an aggressive, totalitarian ideology akin to Nazi Germany and Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

“During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro knew Cuba would be destroyed, but he didn’t care. He felt that if the United States were destroyed, he’d be carrying out his life’s mission,” he said. “As for Hitler, he had a two-part plan: Kill the Jews and take over Europe. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad says he’s got a plan as well: Kill the Jews and take over the Middle East.

“There’s no basis for the proposition that if you’re so intemperate as to decide to use a nuclear weapon you are a blithering, incoherent fool. You might be a shrewd, nasty fool.”

Containing the Iranian threat, he said, will require a credible show of military force aimed at Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“They’re at the heart of this regime – they’re the instrument of oppression, and they run the Basij militia. They control the nuclear, space and ballistic- missiles program, as well as the Quds Force,” he said, referring to the Guards branch responsible for overseas operations.

“They’re at the heart of everything repressive internally, or aggressive externally.”

Woolsey suggested sending approximately five carrier battle groups – each comprising an aircraft carrier and its escort vessels – to the Indian Ocean, accompanied by bomber support, if possible.

“What these [battle groups] are capable of doing – should the trigger be pulled – is taking out everything related to the Revolutionary Guards,” he said. “Not the civilianinfrastructure, not the electric grid, not the regular army, not civilian institutions.”

Still, he said, certain questions would need to be answered before forcibly engaging Iran, including: “How fast the nuclear enrichment is going; whether they’re working on a plutonium bomb as well; whether they’re working on a weapon that could be delivered, or something that would simply be detonated in the desert somewhere – like North Korea does to make clear they’re a nuclear power; or whether they’re more ambitious.

“All these could affect the specific tactics, but I don’t think these should affect the vigor of the sanctions, or preparations to take out the Guards.”

In such a scenario, he said, ground forces would be unnecessary.

“No one is suggesting ground troops or mass bombing of parts of Iran,” said Woolsey. “Instead, it would be an operation similar to what might have been suggested to the Royal Air Force sometime in the mid-1930s to take out the Gestapo, SS and stormtroopers.”

“The US conducted air operations like this twice in the 1990s in Serbia – once on behalf of the Bosnians, and once on behalf of the Kosovars – both Muslim peoples, by the way,” he added. “We didn’t lose a single aircraft or pilot, and now in Kosovo there is a Bill Clinton Avenue and statue.”

Jerusalem Post

Whatever happened to the Veto?... Farage

Homeownership rates fall to 66% the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the nation's homeownership rate fell to 66% in the fourth quarter, continuing a seven-year drop from a fourth-quarter peak of 69.2% in 2004.

At the same time, U.S. home prices fell 1.3% in November from October and were 3.7% below 2010 levels, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index indicates.

STORY: Home prices drop in November for third straight month

Falling homeownership — and prices — reflect the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression. And while there are signs that the housing industry's downturn may at least be nearing a bottom, the impact of the collapse will be evident for years to come, economists say.

As of November, average U.S. home prices were back to mid-2003 levels, S&P says.

The indexes have a base value of 100 in January 2000; so an index value of 150 translates to a 50% appreciation since then for a typical home in the market.
Source:S&P Indices and Fiserv

"Americans are less keen on homeownership knowing now that prices can fall," says Paul Dales, economist with Capital Economics.

Even if people want to own a home, they may not be able to, given the difficulty in getting financing for a mortgage, Dales says. The National Association of Realtors says many purchase contracts appear to be falling through for that reason.

Many economists expect home prices to continue to fall this year and maybe into next year before stabilizing and then showing little or no appreciation for some time.

"The trend is down, and there are few, if any, signs in the numbers that a turning point is close at hand," says David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee.

Phoenix was the only city in Case-Shiller's 20-city index where home prices rose in November from October. They were up 0.6%.

On a year-over-year basis, only two cities showed rising values. Detroit was up 3.8%, and Washington, D.C., 0.5%, the Case-Shiller data show.

While prices are still falling in most areas, there are signs of increased home sales.

Existing home sales rose in December for the third consecutive month, the National Association of Realtors says. And pending home sales, while dropping more than expected in December, were still above levels a year before, NAR says.

"Home prices will be the last thing that moves up" after increasing sales and shrinking inventories, Blitzer says.

The homeowner vacancy rate fell again in the fourth quarter, the Census data show, to 2.3% from 2.4% in the third quarter and from 2.7% in the fourth quarter last year.

The 2.3% rate is the lowest since early 2006 and "leaves the visible inventory at a level consistent with house prices bottoming out later in the year," Capital Economics says.

The drop in homeownership rates has been most pronounced in the West. As of the fourth quarter, the homeownership rate there stood at 60.1%, the Census data show.

That's down from 64.5% in the fourth quarter of 2006, which is about when home prices began their five-year tumble.

The West is home to three of the states most affected by foreclosures, which have hurt homeownership rates. Nevada, Arizona and California were the top three states last year with the highest foreclosure rates, market researcher RealtyTrac says.

While homeownership drops, more people rent. Almost 34% of occupied homes in the fourth quarter were rented, according to the Census data. That's up slightly from the same quarter a year earlier.

The rental vacancy rate of 9.4% for the quarter was the same as a year ago but down from above 10% rates in the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2008, the Census data show.

Higher rents are expected as more people rent, economist Dales says.

USA Today

Survey of Banks Shows a Sharp Cut in Lending in Europe

FRANKFURT — Banks in the euro area cut lending sharply at the end of 2011, according to data published Wednesday, raising concern that Europe was on the verge of a credit crisis that could lead to a deeper recession than expected.

A quarterly survey of commercial banks by the European Central Bank showed a surge in the number of institutions that were becoming more restrictive about who they lent to, because the banks themselves were having trouble raising money and were under pressure from regulators to reduce risk.

The survey, which covered the last three months of 2011, provided more evidence of the harmful effect that the sovereign debt crisis was having on the banking system. It also somewhat validated the European Central Bank policy of providing big emergency loans to euro area banks in an attempt to stave off a full-blown lending drought.

“A credit crunch would tip the euro zone back into a severe recession,” Marie Diron, an economist who advises the consulting firm Ernst & Young, said in a statement.

There is also evidence that the problems in Western Europe are spilling over into the developing economies of Eastern Europe.

For example, lending to Poland from outside the country fell by $12 billion, the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, reported last week. The decline is surprising because Poland’s economy continues to grow briskly. It suggests that hard-pressed West European banks have started withholding resources from their subsidiaries in Eastern Europe.

“It is obvious that we see a deleveraging, a retrenching process unfolding,” Thomas Mirow, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said in an interview last week. He said the figures from the Bank for International Settlements showed “this is not just perception but reality.” The reconstruction bank provides credit to support the development of free markets in the former Soviet bloc.

In December, the European Central Bank radically expanded lending to euro area banks, providing 489 billion euros ($643 billion) at 1 percent interest for three years. Previously, the central bank offered loans for no more than about a year. That infusion of cash has been credited with easing the strain of the sovereign debt crisis.

It will offer another round of three-year loans at the end of this month, a move that analysts expect to further guard against a credit crisis. Still, some warned that the situation remained perilous.

“For the sovereign crisis to truly abate, we need to see that governments are able to deliver austerity, and the economies can still grow in the face of it,” Karen Ward, senior global economist at HSBC, wrote in a note to clients. It would be wrong to assume that the central bank lending was “a panacea for the euro zone sovereign crisis,” she wrote.

Banks tightened their lending standards for businesses as well as for individuals, according to the central bank. Of the banks surveyed, 35 percent said they were applying stricter criteria to business loans compared with 16 percent in the previous quarter. Banks also became more reluctant to provide mortgage loans. And they said they expected credit to become more scarce in months to come.

Germany was an exception. Lending there remained steady, according to separate data published Wednesday by the Bundesbank, the German central bank.

One reason banks in the euro area are reluctant to lend is that they have their own problems raising money. About half said they were still having trouble getting access to money markets, the central bank said. Funds in the United States and elsewhere that lend large sums to banks remain wary of the health of many euro area institutions because of their holdings of European government bonds.

The data may be seen as partly confirming complaints by banks that regulator pressure is raising the risk of a credit crisis. The European Banking Authority and national regulators are leaning on banks to increase their reserves and reduce risk. One way for banks to do so is to reduce lending.

A fifth of banks surveyed said that the need to raise their capital reserves had forced them to restrict lending. But twice that many banks said the flagging euro area economy was the main reason for tighter credit standards.

NY Times

47 Signs That China Is Destroying America On The Global Economic Stage

Have you ever watched a football game or a basketball game where one team dominates the other team so badly that calling it a "blowout" would be a huge understatement?  Well, that is what China is doing to the United States.  China is absolutely destroying America on the global economic stage.  Once upon a time, the Chinese economy was a joke and the U.S. economy was the most powerful the world had ever seen.  But over the past couple of decades the U.S. economy has decayed and declined while the Chinese economy has skyrocketed.  Today, China makes more steel, more automobiles, more beer, more cotton, more coal and more solar panels than we do.  China has the fastest train in the world, the fastest computer in the world and they export twice as much high-tech equipment as we do.  In 2011, our trade deficit with China was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world, and China has now accumulated more than 3 trillion dollars in foreign currency reserves.  Every single day, we lose more jobs, more businesses and more of our national wealth to China.  In technical economic terms, China has "taken us out behind the woodshed" and has beaten the living daylights out of us.  Unfortunately, most Americans are so addicted to entertainment that they don't even realize what is happening.
If you do not believe that China is wiping the floor with America in front of the rest of the world, just keep reading.  The following are 47 signs that China is absolutely destroying America on the global economic stage....
#1 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China's high-tech exportsare more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.
#2 America has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.
#3 The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.
#4 In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.
#5 In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel.  The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.
#6 In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton.  The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.
#7 China produced 19.8 percent of all the goods consumed in the world during 2010.  The United States only produced 19.4 percent.
#8 During 2010, we spent $365 billion on goods and services from China while they only spent $92 billion on goods and services from us.
#9 In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year.  The final U.S. trade deficit with China for 2011 will be very close to300 billion dollars.  That will be the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
#10 The U.S. trade deficit with China is now 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.
#11 Since China entered the WTO in 2001, the U.S. trade deficit with China has grown by an average of 18% per year.
#12 According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China.
#13 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#14 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#15 The United States had been the leading consumer of energy on the globe for about 100 years, but during the summer of 2010 China took over the number one spot.
#16 15 years ago, China was 14th in the world in published scientific research articles.  But now, China is expected to pass the United States and become number one very shortly.
#17 China is also expected to soon become the global leader in patent filings.
#18 In 2009, the United States ranked dead last of the 40 nations examined by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation when it came to "change" in "global innovation-based competitiveness" over the previous ten years.
#19 China now awards more doctoral degrees in engineering each year than the United States does.
#20 China now possesses the fastest supercomputer on the entire planet.
#21 China now has the world's fastest train and the world's most extensive high-speed rail network.
#22 The construction of the new $200 million African Union headquarters was funded by China.
#23 Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.
#24 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.
#25 Amazingly, China now consumes 53 percent of the world's cement.
#26 There are more pigs in China than in the next 43 pork producing nations combined.
#27 China is now the number one producer of wind and solar power on the entire globe.
#28 Chinese solar panel production was about 50 times larger in 2010 than it was in 2005.
#29 Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.
#30 China controls over 90 percent of the total global supply of rare earth elements.
#31 China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.
#32 According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China's number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment.  According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was "scrap and trash".
#33 The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
#34 Back in the year 2000, more than 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.  Today, only about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.
#35 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
#36 The average household debt load in the United States is 136% of average household income.  In China, the average household debt load is 17% of average household income.
#37 The new World Trade Center tower is going to be made with imported glass from China.
#38 The new MLK memorial on the National Mall was made in China.
#39 A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted a while back found that 61 percent of all Americans consider China to be a threat to our jobs and economic security.
#40 According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day closed down in the United States during 2010.
#41 Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.
#42 According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 millionmore U.S. jobs could be sent out of the country over the next two decades.
#43 Over the past several decades, China has been able to accumulate approximately 3 trillion dollars in foreign currency reserves, and the U.S. government now owes China close to 1.5 trillion dollars.
#44 According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.
#45 According to one prominent economist, the Chinese economy already has roughly the same amount of purchasing power as the U.S. economy does.
#46 According to Stanford University economics professor Ed Lazear, if the U.S. economy and the Chinese economy continue to grow at current rates, the average Chinese citizen will be wealthier than the average American citizen in just 30 years.
#47 Nobel economist Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040 if current trends continue.
If the global economy was a game, America would be losing very badly and China would have all the momentum.
Unfortunately, the global economy is not a game.  Very real businesses and very real jobs are affected by this every single day.
Barack Obama keeps talking about how "the economy is improving", but the reality is that we have never even gotten close to where we were back before the financial crisis of 2008.
The following chart (which I pulled off a Fed website today) shows the average duration of unemployment in America.  Does this look like an economic recovery to you?....
The Obama administration tells us that the official unemployment rate is only 8.5 percent, but that is a joke.  Even the Congressional Budget Office admits that the official unemployment rate should actually be somewhere up around 10 percent.
But the real story is the number of long-term unemployed workers we have in America today.
According to the Hamilton Project, approximately 53 percent of all unemployed workers in the state of Florida were out of work for more than six months during 2011.
But Barack Obama seems absolutely amazed that there are still so many unemployed people out there during his "economic recovery".   Just check out the following interaction that took place between Obama and one concerned wife during a recent appearance by Obama on Google+....
"Can I ask you what kind of engineer your husband is?," Obama said to the wife of the unemployed engineer.
"He's a semiconductor engineer," she responded.
"It is interesting to me -- and I meant what I said if your send me your husband's resume, I'd be interested in finding out exactly what's happening right there because the word that we're getting is that somebody in that type of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away."
Obama does not realize that it is not so simple to "find something right away" in this economy.
We have been shipping high-tech jobs overseas at a blistering pace.  The jobs simply are not there anymore.
In Europe, unemployment is even worse.  Just check out this chart which shows what has been happening to youth unemployment in Europe recently.
In both the United States and Europe, a great disconnect has taken place.  Just because big corporations in the U.S. and in Europe are doing well, that does not mean that they are going to provide good jobs for workers in the U.S. and in Europe.
These days, it is way too easy for big corporations to ship jobs over to places like China where it is perfectly legal to pay workers slave labor wages.
So unless something changes, that means that from now on there will be chronic structural unemployment problems in the United States.
That also means that the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to increase.
And unfortunately, there are signs that the economy is about to experience another downturn.  Consumer confidence in the U.S. is falling once again.  The Baltic Dry Index, which is often used as a measure of the health of the world economy, has fallen more than 60 percent since October.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Europe is heading into a recession and several European nations are already experiencing depression-like conditions.
Considering the fact that half of all global trade involves Europe in some manner, that is not a good thing for us.
So if you have a job right now, you might want to hold on to it tightly.  Jobs are precious commodities at the moment, and they are going to become even more scarce in the years ahead.
Economic Collapse