Hong Kong Buys $2.07 Billion in Week to Defend Currency Peg

Hong Kong’s de facto central bank bought $2.07 billion this week to stop the local currency from strengthening beyond its 31-year-old peg to the greenback.

Share listings, dividends and mergers and acquisitions are driving demand, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said July 26. OAO MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest wireless operator, has shifted some of its cash holdings into the city’s dollar as the U.S. and Europe ratchet up sanctions, Chief Financial Officer Gevork Vermishyan said in an interview yesterday. Continue reading

Economist: Social Security in Worse Shape than Detroit’s Pension Funds

(CNSNews.com) – “Social Security is insolvent,” Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff told the House Subcommittee on Social Security at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “And it’s not bankrupt in 30 years, or 20 years, or 10 years. It’s bankrupt today.”

“This is not my opinion. This is the only conclusion one can draw from Table IVB6 of the 2013 Social Security Trustee’s Report.”

“This table reports that Social Security has a $23 trillion fiscal gap measured over the infinite horizon,” noted Kotlikoff, who also served as a senior economist on President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“Twenty-three trillion dollars is 32 percent of the present value, also measured over the infinite horizon, of Social Security’s future revenues. Hence, Social Security is 32 percent underfinanced, which means it is in significantly worse financial shape than Detroit’s two pension funds taken together.” Continue reading

What Happens Now That Argentina Is in ‘Selective Default’

Default is a major disaster for a government, but not much will happen right away now that Standard & Poor’s has declared Argentina to be in “selective default.”

S&P (MHFI) took the action today after Argentina’s talks with holdout creditors continued past the end of the 30-day grace period for a $539 million bond payment. Continue reading

Russian, Indian Central Banks Could Use National Currencies in Payments

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India have agreed to set up a working group to devise tools to use national currencies in bilateral payments, the Russian regulator said Wednesday. Continue reading

China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America

Mexico City (AFP) – The leaders of China, Russia and Japan all descended on Latin America in recent weeks, jostling with the United States to increase their influence, invest and tap into resource-rich markets.

The latest arrival was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday was in Trinidad and Tobago, the second stop on a five-country tour that began on Friday in Mexico.

Abe’s visit began just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his tour, which included stops in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. Xi signed more than 100 trade agreements on the trip.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the region for a week from July 11, stopping in Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba. Continue reading

U.S. sales to Russia have only risen since sanctions imposed

U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed. The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis.

Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions.

Robert Kahn, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the rise in exports was evidence that Russian companies were stockpiling goods with the expectation that future sanctions would prevent U.S. companies from selling to their country. Continue reading

Chinese Hackers Stole Plans For Israel’s Iron Dome

China-based hackers stole plans for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in 2011 and 2012, according to an investigation by a Maryland-based cyber security firm first reported by independent journalist Brian Krebs.

The hackers also stole plans related to other missile interceptors, including the Arrow 3, which was designed by Boeing and other U.S.-based companies.

According to Krebs, “the attacks bore all of the hallmarks of the ‘Comment Crew,’ a prolific and state-sponsored hacking group associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and credited with stealing terabytes of data from defense contractors and U.S. corporations.” The hackers gained access to the systems of three Israeli companies working on missile defense. Maryland-based Cyber Engineering Services could prove that 700 documents were stolen in the breach although it’s likely that the actual number is higher. Continue reading

The Scramble for Africa

BERLIN(Own report) – German businesses are demanding that the government intensify its support for tapping the “continent of opportunity, Africa” in competition with China and other BRICS countries. Parallel to the West’s waning global influence, German businesses are loosing ground on the African continent. This is why German enterprises are pushing for increasing Hermes trade credit insurances, double taxation treaties, and generally “stronger political support for the German industry in Africa.” A building industry federation is explicitly demanding that future allocations of development funds be tied to orders for German/European firms. The German government has indicated its readiness to implement these policies. The KfW Development Bank and other public-sector banks are already seeking ways to support the German industry’s expansion efforts by expanding credit transactions. Continue reading

Germany to Kill Canada-EU Trade Agreement, May Axe US-EU Deal Too

In the end, they will side with Russia. Not only because of legal issues or political issues such as the Snowden ‘scandal’, but because they have historically leaned pro-Russian despite the last 70 years of strong relations with the United States. The current Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is heavily Russian influenced as she grew up in the Soviet controlled eastern portion of Germany and voluntarily participated in the DDR — and held leadership positions. She was groomed to be pro-Russian. Her predecessor, Gerhardt Schröder, strengthened business ties between nations during his tenure, plus he now works for Gazprom, a state-owned (KGB/FSB) Russian gas company — and knows exactly who and what entity he works for.

It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going as leaves don’t fall far from the tree. The espionage ‘scandal’ is only an excuse — because it’s quite clear every nation spies on another, including allies — to do what Germany has long wanted to do: Kick NATO and the Western powers out and rule the European continent on its own.

NATO being shown the door is only one crisis away and a Russian invasion of Ukraine could prove that. NATO, the protectorate of Europe against Soviet aggression, is unprepared to fend off a Russian attack and will sit idly by while anger stirs against its intentional complacency. That would be the nail in the coffin for the West and a boost for Germany’s Fourth Reich to take the military lead, as it’s slowly pushing for now.

Germany is to scupper a free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada because the clauses giving legal protection to investors would give them too much power, according to a report in a leading Germany newspaper.

The Canada deal is considered a template for the United States-EU free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is still under negotiation. If Germany rejects the Canada agreement, then the American deal looks likely to fail, too.

A senior European Commission official in Brussels told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “The free trade treaty with Canada is a test for the agreement with the United States.” If the one with Canada is rejected, “then the one with the United States is also dead.” Continue reading

Banks accused of rigging silver price

Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Bank of Nova Scotia have been accused of attempting to rig the price of silver, in a lawsuit filed in the US.

The plaintiff alleges the banks, which set the price of silver each day, abused their position in the market.

The lawsuit follows similar filings in the gold price-fixing market. Continue reading

A Chinese Gold Standard?

LONDON — While the 70th anniversary of D-Day last month received a lot of attention, another event, in July 1944 — the Bretton Woods conference, named for the mountain resort in New Hampshire where it was held — was perhaps even more significant in shaping the modern world. It not only led to the creation of what are now the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but it also confirmed the central position of the United States dollar in the international monetary system.

Why does this matter for us now? Just as America displaced Britain as the world’s pre-eminent economic power in the interwar period, so, too, the large debts and fiscal pressures confronting the West, and the rise of China and other economic powers, challenge us to think about the future of finance.

For most of the 19th century the British pound had been the world’s “reserve currency,” the currency in which trade and finance were denominated. “As sound as a pound” became a widely used expression. The pound was pegged to gold at a fixed rate of just under £4 per ounce. Continue reading

9/11 Commission Warns US Unprepared For A Possible ‘Cyber-Pearl Harbor’

A decade after releasing its report on U.S. unpreparedness ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the 9/11 Commission has released a new assessment on the growing threat of cyber-terrorism.

“One lesson of the 9/11 story is that, as a nation, Americans did not awaken to the gravity of the terrorist threat until it was too late,” the commission wrote in a new report on the 10th anniversary of the original, which revealed the intelligence failures that led to the hijacking of four planes by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization. Continue reading

BRICS nations could rival US in global influence

The rise of the BRICS countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–may challenge the world order and lead to the end of US domination.

The five countries set up the New Development Bank during a recent summit in Brazil, which offers an alternative to the US-led International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The five countries participating in the economic cooperation forum are likely to deepen their cooperation in various fields, which may rival the dominance of the United States and G7 countries in the world.

The BRICS countries will also increase their sway if they can improve their governance, considering the fact that they account for 42% of the global population and their GDP and trade volume each make up for about 20% of the world’s total. Continue reading

Europe braced for any gas crisis as Russia sanctions escalate

The showdown with Russian president Vladimir Putin comes at moment of surging global supplies of LNG, which can be diverted to European markets and reduce the Kremlin’s political leverage. The price of LNG in Asia has crashed from $20 to $11 per British thermal unit since February.

The pan-EU group Gas Infrastructure Europe said the network of LNG terminals in Britain and the Continent is currently operating at just 20pc of its full capacity. It could in theory boost flows by 160bn cubic metres (BCM), if there is available gas.

This is more than Russia’s entire shipments, which reached 155 BCM last year. The European network of pipelines does not cover every region and would leave pockets in eastern Europe without supply.

“We have a lot of free capacity in LNG in Europe. It would be extremely difficult to replace Russian gas in a just a few months but it is possible to raise supply,” said one official. Continue reading

Billionaire Warns: Yellen Collapse ‘Will Be Unlike Any Other’

Another horrific stock market crash is coming, and the next bust will be “unlike any other” we have seen.

That’s the message from Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist of GMO, a Boston-based firm with $117 billion in assets under management.

Grantham pulls no punches when assigning responsibility for the coming financial carnage. In a recent interview with The New York Times, he calls Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “ignorant” and says the Federal Reserve all but killed the economic recovery.
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