US banks bracing for Brexit

According to sources quoted by the Financial Times, three American banks — Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley — are “drawing up plans to move some London-based activities to Ireland to address concerns” the UK would leave the European Union after a referendum on EU membership to be held possibly in 2017.

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South Stream ‘Plan B’ opts for route through Greece and Turkey

A Russian newspaper has published an article suggesting that the Kremlin-favoured South Stream gas pipeline could drop Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Slovenia for its route, and instead reach its final destinations, Italy and Austria, through Turkey and Greece.

On Monday (18 August), Russian business newspaper Vzglyad published an article by journalist Oleg Makarenko, claiming that Gazprom has a “plan B” in case Bulgaria continues to obstruct the construction of the South Stream pipeline.

A caretaker government in Sofia, which took office on 6 August, has frozen the construction of South Stream, following clear indications from Brussels that the EU executive would impose infringements on Bulgaria, unless the country re-negotiates its bilateral agreement with Russia for the construction of the pipeline, which is in breach of EU law.

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Vladimir Bukovsky: EU = USSR

Can you also guess which nation runs Europe now… for the third time?

 

Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky spent a total of 12 years in Soviet psychiatric prisons and labor camps. Upon his first release from the camps, he asked a journalist to set up some cameras to record his testimony about what was really going on within the Soviet penal system.

Bukovsky knew he would be arrested again for spilling the beans. But he wanted the world to know the truth about the human rights’ abuses going on within the Soviet Union; he was afraid he might not have the mental faculties to tell his story, considering the drugs he was being injected with in the camps.

Now, Vladimir Bukovsky is warning about the ominous rise of the European Union (EU), which he refers to as the “pale version of the Soviet Union.” Continue reading

Tensions soar as Ukraine says destroys Russian armour

Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine said on Friday it had destroyed part of a Russian military convoy that crossed onto its territory in an incursion that has sent cross-border tensions rocketing.

NATO accused Russia of active involvement in the “destabilisation” of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Kremlin separatists have been fighting against Kiev for four months.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told British Prime Minister David Cameron that government artillery had destroyed a “considerable part” of a small military convoy that entered the country, the presidency said in a statement. Continue reading

France rebels against austerity as Europe’s recovery collapses

France’s finance minister sends tremors through European capitals with a defiant warning that his country would no longer try to meet deficit targets

Eurozone strategy is in tatters after economic recovery ground to a halt across the region and France demanded a radical shift in policy, warning that austerity overkill is driving Europe into a depression.

Growth slumped to zero in the second quarter, with Germany contracting by 0.2pc and France once again stuck at zero. Italy is already in a triple-dip recession.

Yields on 10-year German Bunds fell below 1pc for the first time in history, beneath levels seen during the most extreme episodes of deflation in the 19th century. French yields also touch record lows. Much of the eurozone is replicating the pattern seen in Japan as it slid into a deflation trap in the late 1990s.

It is unclear whether tumbling yields are primarily a warning signal of stagnation ahead or a bet by investors that the European Central Bank will soon be forced to launch quantitative easing, buying government bonds across the board.

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Spanish public debt tops one trillion euros

Spain’s public debt has topped one trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for the first time, the central bank announced Thursday, despite years of government-imposed austerity.

The nation’s accumulated public debt mushroomed to 1.007 trillion euros at the end of June from 996 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Spain said in a report. Continue reading

Crisis stalks Europe again as deflation deepens, Germany stalls

Data from Germany, Italy and Portugal put pressure on ECB to act

Portugal has crashed into deep deflation and Italy’s inflation rate has fallen to zero as the eurozone flirts with recession, automatically pushing these countries further towards a debt compound spiral.

The slide comes amid signs of a deepening slowdown in the eurozone core, with even Germany flirting with possible recession. Germany’s ZEW index of investor confidence plunged from 27.1 to 8.6 in July, the sharpest fall since June 2012, during the European sovereign debt crisis. “The European Central Bank has to act now,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. Continue reading

Germany Is Building a European Army Before Your Eyes

The Dutch army is made up of three brigades, plus support staff and Special Forces. On June 12, one of those brigades, the 11th Airmobile, officially joined the German army.

This was the first time ever that European country has handed part of its army over to another country. “Never before has a state renounced this elementary and integral part of its sovereignty,” wrote Die Welt’s political editor Thorsten Jungholt.

Now, Germany is making it clear that this was not an isolated event. Instead, it is a pattern Germany intends to follow as it absorbs more units from foreign militaries. “Germany is driving the European Army Project” was the title of Jungholt’s Die Welt article. Continue reading

Looking For The Spark Of World War 3? Start Here

The arc of this story points to at least one likely conclusion: the dreadful day that ISIS (shorthand for whatever they call themselves) overruns the US Green Zone in Baghdad. Won’t that be a nauseating spectacle? Perhaps just in time for the 2014 US elections. And what do you suppose the policy meeting will be like in the White House war room the day after?

There is not a nation on earth that is preparing intelligently for the end of oil — and by that I mean 1) the end of cheap, affordable oil, and 2) the permanent destabilization of existing oil supply lines. Both of these conditions should be visible now in the evolving geopolitical dynamic, but nobody is paying attention, for instance, in the hubbub over Ukraine. That feckless, unfortunate, and tragic would-be nation, prompted by EU and US puppeteers, just replied to the latest trade sanction salvo from Russia by declaring it would block the delivery of Russian gas to Europe through pipelines on its territory. I hope everybody west of Dnepropetrovsk is getting ready to burn the furniture come November. But that just shows how completely irrational the situation has become… and I stray from my point. Continue reading

Poland plans new canal to by-pass Russia

Poland plans to construct a new canal to bypass a stretch of coastline controlled by Russia, as the country tries to rid itself of dependence on its neighbour.

Costing an estimated £167 million, the planned canal will link the Vistula Lagoon in the north east of Poland with the Baltic Sea. Currently, all sea traffic from the lagoon and the flourishing port of Elblag has to travel through Russian waters to get to the Baltic. The canal will cut through a narrow strip of land separating the lagoon from the sea. Continue reading

Radical action needed as euro zone remains on amber alert

To get economy moving again, policymakers should go ahead with quantitative easing to boost liquidity and allow the euro to weaken

The euro zone’s “softly, softly” approach to the financial crisis is not working. The economy is sinking into deflation, dragged down by a zombie banking system and spiralling government debt. It is slipping back towards recession. A future break-up of the euro zone remains a potent threat.

Policymakers can ill afford to keep kicking the can down the road. The bailout earlier this month of Portuguese lender Banco Espirito Santo was a sharp reminder to investors the euro zone was not out of the woods by a long stretch. Continue reading

Spy agencies hit in cyber espionage campaign: Kaspersky Lab

The hackers, according to Kaspersky, were likely backed by a nation state and used techniques and tools similar to ones employed in two other high-profile cyber espionage operations that Western intelligence sources have linked to the Russian government.

Kaspersky, a Moscow-based security software maker that also sells cyber intelligence reports, declined to say if it believed Russia was behind the espionage campaign.

Dubbed “Epic Turla,” the operation stole vast quantities of data, including word processing documents, spreadsheets and emails, Kaspersky said, adding that the malware searched for documents with terms such as “NATO,” “EU energy dialogue” and “Budapest.” Continue reading

Italy just fell back into recession for the third time since 2008

ROME — Italy slipped into recession for the third time since 2008 in the second quarter, underlining the chronic weakness of the eurozone’s third-largest economy and pressuring the government to complete promised reforms.

Figures on Wednesday from statistics agency ISTAT showed gross domestic product unexpectedly declined by 0.2% in April-June from the previous three months. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast growth of 0.2%.

The economy also shrank by 0.1% in January-March, meaning it has returned to recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Italian stocks fell after the data and the risk premium between Italy’s 10-year bonds and those of Germany widened. Continue reading

What’s Behind Russia’s Revival of a Soviet-Era Song Contest?

Russia will revive the Cold War-era Intervision Song Contest this October, according to July 25 reports.

Intervision was first established back in 1977 as a direct rival to the Europe-oriented Eurovision Song Contest. Few people in the participating Soviet nations had private telephones, so Intervision’s television viewers would turn on their house lights if they liked a certain song, or off if they didn’t. The state energy company would then record the size of each power spike, and report the results to the television company to determine points for each contestant. As the Soviet Union began to weaken in the early 1980s, Intervision was discontinued.

Now, Putin is reviving this relic of the Soviet Union’s “glory days,” as he recently has with so many others including a military prep fitness program, the “Hero of Socialist Labor” award, and a grip on domestic media that would earn a hat tip from Comrade Stalin himself.

All these moves serve Putin’s general purpose of resuscitating the Soviet Empire. But this latest one—reviving the song contest—also serves another specific purpose. Continue reading

Putin Urges Government to Prepare Response to Western Sanctions

VORONEZH, August 5 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he has told the government to retaliate against Western sanctions.

“I have already prepared such instructions today,” the president said during a working trip to the Central Russian Voronezh Region. Continue reading