Archive for the ‘European’ Category

Obama’s end of the beginning and possibly the beginning of the end

March 27, 2009

Today the President of the Uited States said, “the safety of people around the world is at stake,” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Most of the world yawned.

Next week the president will be in Europe for contentious G20 meetings and then on to a NATO conference.  He should take all his white water rafting knowledge with him.  Despite the unual ulta-polite European ways: Obama cannot expect any huge long term committment from his NATO allies on Afgahnistan; and Pakistan is a sovereign nation that has problems to solve on their own, most European leaders think.

The U.S. has already been in Afghanistan for seven years and has struggled every step of the way to gain more help from European and other allies.  But the allies are now tired and much poorer than seven years ago.  Their focus is on the economic recovery and not much else.

President Obama will be the new guy next week.  He’s untested and he has a lot on his plate: much of it he put there himself.  Already China is wondering how Obama can possibly repay all his debt to do all his many projects.

But Obama has made it clear he will do everything at once: stimulus, new bank regulations, health care, education, environment, and energy.

His team will also be at at U.N. climate change event this next week — an event that should cause worry for most Americans.

U.N. ‘Climate Change’ Plan Would Likely Shift Trillions to Form New World Economy

Next week for Obama he is at the end of the beginning and possibly the beginning of the end.

London Protesters Threaten Bankers, Evoke Executions

Obama Has United Pakistani and Afghan Taliban


From Politico

The Obama administration fears getting bogged down in a bloody and inconclusive war in Afghanistan and Pakistan — but it also fears walking away from the region.

So its new strategy, which President Barack Obama announced Friday at the White House, is a careful middle course that seeks to avoid both of these unacceptable outcomes.

It keeps the U.S. committed but not too committed.

It doesn’t promise fast results or sweeping achievements, like defeating the Taliban insurgency or quickly bringing security to the Afghan people.

It seeks to draw allies into the effort but doesn’t greatly expand the U.S. footprint, though Obama will announce he is sending 4,000 more troops, several hundred civilian reconstruction experts, and $1.5 billion in additional economic aid to Pakistan.

And it will contain benchmarks that give Obama a chance to review the strategy at regular intervals to decide whether it is working.

The question that arises is whether in trying to keep the U.S. commitment limited, the White House is making it that much harder for the new strategy to work.

The main new U.S. goal is as constricted and clear-eyed as can be. It is to go after Osama bin Laden and the other remains of Al Qaeda hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Everything else will be secondary.

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Troops Under Fire In Afghanistan; Obama Hit By RPGs from Democratic Left


President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan proposal is under fire from the liberal base, which is becoming increasingly disappointed in his war policies.

Russ Feingold, the liberal and often defiant Wisconsin senator, said today that Obama’s plan “could make the situation worse, not better.”

Peace Action, a liberal anti-war organization, is organizing a coalition to petition Congress to oppose Obama’s Afghanistan plan.

“It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result,” said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action.

And Win Without War, another anti-war group, also slammed Obama.

“I regret that President Obama, in his desire to protect our nation from a genuine threat, has outlined a policy that will undermine our security, not enhance it,” said Tom Andrews, the organization’s executive director. “In short, the president’s policy is playing into the hands of Al Qaeda and the Taliban by providing them with a cause that unites and strengthens them.”

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 Do we want to revive our economy, or do we want to punish the bankers?

Euopean Union President: Obama “will undermine the stability of the global financial market”

March 25, 2009

As the President of the United States gets ready for his first trip to Europe, he’ll have to prepare humself for disunity over his budget and economic plan — from the European Union.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Obama, ” talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans.  All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell.”

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

The “biggest success” of the European Council so far this year is a refusal to follow the same path, he said.

“We need to read the history books and read with it the lessons of history,” Topolanek said.

But Britain’s Pime Minister, Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is trying to convince Obama to spend even more……

Here is how Gordon Brown faced the heat at the EU:

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts,  as he listens to ... 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts, as he listens to the debates, Tuesday March 24, 2009 at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Brown called for global standards of financial regulation and insists every continent must pour enough funds into their economies to beat the crisis.(AP Photo/Christian Lutz)


From The Telegraph (UK)

Mr Brown used a speech to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday to exhort the European Union to take the lead in rehabilitating the world economy and forging a new “moral” capitalism. He called for an end to offshore tax havens, tougher financial regulation, and international limits on remuneration.

But his message risked being overshadowed by a warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that Britain may not be able to afford further fiscal stimulus measures.

Mr King told the Treasury Select Committee that the UK’s deficit levels were already “very large”.

“I think the fiscal position in the UK is not one where we could say, ‘well, why don’t we just engage in another significant round of fiscal expansion’,” he added.

The remarks were seen as embarrassing to Mr Brown, who has successfully pressed the case for wealthy countries to bring forward significant fiscal stimulus packages to refloat the economy.

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A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as “a way to hell.”

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Associated Press

A day after his government collapsed because of a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, Topolanek took the EU presidency on a collision course with Washington over how to deal with the global economic recession.

Most European leaders favor tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. has been pushing for larger economic stimulus plans.

Topolanek’s comments are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from recent U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

They also pave the way for a stormy summit next week in London between leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

The host of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, praised Obama on Tuesday for his willingness to work with Europe on reforming the global economy in the run-up to the G-20 summit.

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Trade Barriers Could Threaten Global Economy

March 18, 2009

At least 17 of the 20 major nations that vowed at a November summit to avoid protectionist steps that could spark a global trade war have violated that promise, with countries from Russia to the United States to China enacting measures aimed at limiting the flow of imported goods, according to a World Bank report unveiled yesterday. 

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writer

The report underscores a “worrying” trend toward protectionism as countries rush to shield their ailing domestic industries during the global economic crisis. It comes one day after Mexico vowed to slap new restrictions on 90 U.S. products. That action is being taken in retaliation against Washington for canceling a program that allowed Mexican truck drivers the right to transport goods across the United States, illustrating the tit-for-tat responses that experts fear could grow in coming months.

The report comes ahead of an April 2 summit in London in which the heads of state from those 20 industrialized and developing economies will seek to shape a coordinated response to the economic crisis. Their inability to keep their November promises is another indication of how difficult it will be to implement any agreement reached next month on a global scale.

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Obama to Ignore European Effort; Push for Global Stimulus at G20

March 9, 2009

The U.S. will press world leaders to boost emergency government spending to lift the global economy, risking a rift with European nations more concerned with revamping financial regulation.

Wall Street Journal

In President Barack Obama’s first foray into economic diplomacy, Washington will urge the shift at a summit next month in London, U.S. officials say, as markets look for a unified plan of action from the world’s most economically powerful nations.

Washington’s focus is at odds with France, Germany and other European nations that want the Group of 20 summit on April 2 to focus on rewriting rules governing financial markets. These nations say lax regulation was a major cause of the financial crisis and want to tighten their grip on hedge funds and private-equity firms.

All sides are looking to avoid a breakdown at the summit that would roil markets…

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World Bank: Global Trade Drops Most in 80 Years; What’s it Mean For Obama?

NYT Urges Obama To “Bail Out” Third World Too

 Despite Global Economy Downturn, China Still Lending

 World Bank Says Global Economy Will Shrink in ’09

 Obama has little reason to fall in with the G20

Obama, Socialism, Fear, Lack of Confidence: Tanking Stocks, Skyrocketing Debt, Recovery Doomed This Year

March 7, 2009
This has the feel of a full scale assault on capitalism….

Some investors and pundits blame Obama for the market’s dismal performance. He inherited a mess, but his rhetoric isn’t helping.
Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Stock Market

NYT: After March 6 Economic News, “2009 is Probably a Lost Cause”

Tom Petruno, Market Beat
Los Angeles Times
March 7, 2009
The stock market is supposed to be a bet on the future.

The market’s verdict so far this year: There is no future.

The continuing meltdown in share prices, the worst since the Great Depression, now has become Exhibit A in the political battle between the Obama administration and its harshest critics.

Conservative pundits including Rush Limbaugh and CNBC-TV’s Larry Kudlow assert that the president is waging war against capitalism itself, with his tax-hike proposals, social programs and banker-bashing rhetoric. That has sent disillusioned investors fleeing, they contend.

Well, something has. After diving 38% last year, share prices are down 24% just since Jan. 1, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s index of 500 big-name issues.

Despite a slight uptick on Friday, stocks plummeted 7% this week alone.

An outside view of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall street. ...

The decline from the market’s peak in October 2007 now is 56.3% — the steepest drop since the plunge of 1938 to 1942, when no less than the future of democracy was at stake.

“I think everybody is afraid of Obama,” said Todd Leone, a veteran stock trader at Cowen & Co. in New York. “They’re afraid he’s a socialist.”

Yes, the S-word.

Others say the market is more upset with the administration’s failure to stabilize the ravaged banking system — a Herculean task that Wall Street had hoped would be the first major challenge the White House tackled.

“Every time Obama talks about something like healthcare, the market’s reaction is — ‘No, the banking crisis!’ ” said Jeffrey Schappe, investment chief at BB&T Asset Management in Raleigh, N.C.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner still hasn’t provided specifics on his plan to get rotting loans off the balance sheets of major banks, a step seen as crucial to jump-starting new lending.

For his part, the president this week advised investors to look beyond what he called “day-to-day gyrations” in share prices.

He then ventured into territory where few other presidents have gone. Perhaps taking a cue from fellow Democrat Warren E. Buffett, Obama offered an opinion on whether stocks were bargains.

“What you’re now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal, if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it,” he said Tuesday.

He didn’t get the lingo right, assuming he meant to say “price-to-earnings ratios,” a measure of stock prices relative to earnings per share. That flub caused snickering among market pros.

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 Can Democracy Fail With Obama’s Socialist Help?

George W. Obama?

 Venezuela’s Chavez Urges Obama, U.S. Down Socialist Path

Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Stock Market

NYT: After March 6 Economic News, “2009 is Probably a Lost Cause”

Obama’s First Weeks: Economic Disaster, Socialist Agenda,

Never waste a good crisis, Clinton says

March 7, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience Friday “never waste a good crisis,” and highlighted the opportunity of rebuilding economies in a greener, less energy-intensive way.

Highlighting Europe’s unease the day after Russia warned that gas flows via Ukraine might be halted, she also condemned the use of energy as a political lever.

By Pete Harrison

Clinton told young Europeans at the European Parliament that global economic turmoil provided a fresh opening. “Never waste a good crisis … Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security,” she said.

Europe sees the United States as a crucial ally in global climate talks in Copenhagen in December, after President Barack Obama signaled a new urgency in tackling climate change, in stark contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush.

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 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009. Emanuel famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Hillary’s First Move For Obama: Closer to Israel

January 24, 2009

Israel’s daily Haaretz said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the deal during a phone conversation on Thursday, according to Iran’s state news network.

Tzipi Livni (Left) with Hillary Clinton

The report added that they also agreed to take joint measures to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

Clinton officially was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of State this last week.

The US, Israel and their European allies accuse Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory Iran of developing a nuclear program for military purposes. Tehran says it only seeks civilian applications of the technology.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton said that the Obama administration would pursue ‘an attitude toward engagement (with Iran) that might bear fruit’.


Hillary Clinton gets sworn in Wednesday in her Senate office by Judge Kathryn Oberly.

Bad Economic News From China, European Banks Continues to Upset Markets

January 22, 2009

Grim economic news from China and upheaval for banks in Europe showed the global financial crisis hitting ever harder on Thursday, though stock markets rebounded after two days of losses.

China’s powerhouse economy slowed dramatically at the end of 2008, dragging growth of the world’s third-largest economy to a seven-year low, official data showed, in a disturbing sign of the current downturn’s strength.

In Europe meanwhile there were fresh signs of upheaval in the financial sector, where banking shares dragged down markets worldwide this week owing to concern that further losses will lead to more nationalisation.

Belgian regional authorities moved on Thursday to bail out lender KBC, providing up to 3.5 billion euros (4.6 billion dollars) after its shares collapsed.

People walk past household supply stalls in Beijing on January ... 
People walk past household supply stalls in Beijing on January 18. China’s economy slowed dramatically at the end of 2008 as the full force of the global crisis hit home, dragging growth to a seven-year low, official data has shown.(AFP/Liu Jin)


Germany was reportedly working on a new rescue package for its banks as last year’s 480-billion-euro (625-billion-dollar) effort has failed to get them lending.

In China as many as six million people from the countryside have lost their jobs in the cities, the National Bureau of Statistics said, revealing 2008 data that showed its export-dependent economy hammered by a slowdown in demand.

After its breathtaking economic growth in recent decades, China had been widely tipped to ride out the world economic slowdown that has dragged some of the world’s biggest economies into recession.

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Brit Economy Worse Than Government Thinks; What About U.S.?

January 19, 2009

European experts are warning Britain that its economy is a lot worse than the Brit government has admitted….What warning does this give to the USA?


Warren Buffett says US in ‘economic Pearl Harbor’
U.S. economy may sputter for years
Only 11% of CEOs Expect Economic Upturn in First Half of 2009


Britain’s economic performance this year will be much worse than the government has predicted, the European Commission said today, with the economy due to contract by 2.8 per cent — the worst performance since 1946.

Unemployment will rise to 8.2 per cent with exports too weak to stop output plummeting, according to Brussels, but it is the forecast of such deep recession that is the most worrying. One of the biggest drops in the European Union, it compares to the Government’s own forecast of negative growth of between 0.75 per cent and 1.25 per cent.

Annual net borrowing will rise to 8.8 per cent of GDP this year, more than the 8 per cent forecast by Alastair Darling in November, while the gross national debt will rise from 44.1 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 72 per cent in 2010, the Commission predicted, largely due to the multi-billion pound bank bailouts.

Britain will be one of the hardest-hit of the 27 EU countries, but all are in for a tough year, with the overall EU economy due to contract by 1.8 per cent this year before recovering to 0.5 per cent growth in 2010.

Britain is forecast by Brussels to experience two quarters of negative inflation in the last half of this year, but this will not amount to an annual judgment of deflation in 2009, said Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner.

“In annual terms in 2009, inflation [in Britain] according to our forecast is 0.1 per cent and next year 1.1 per cent,” said Mr Almunia this morning.

“The situation is more worrying in public finance because the UK had not consolidated public finances during the good times,” he added.

“According to our forecasts and also the British government forecasts, their situation in deficit and debt will deteriorate very rapidly.”

The European Commission report also suggested that Britain’s manufacturing base was now too small to take advantage of the weak pound. “Despite the sharp fall in the effective exchange rate over 2007-8, net external demand will provide only limited support to growth in 2009, given the weakening of growth in UK export markets. Output is likely to show only a modest recovery in 2010, with annual growth of one quarter of one per cent. Given the pronounced fall in output, the unemployment rate is likely to rise to around 8 per cent this year.”

It added that “the likelihood that economic activity in 2010 will be weaker than envisaged by the UK authorities also carries a risk that the fiscal tightening measures announced to 2010 will not be fully implemented, which would raise the deficit forecast in 2010-11 by up to three-quarters of a percentage point of GDP.”

Anti-Piracy Force Thwarts Attack on Chinese Ship; Chinese Navy Not Yet Helping

December 17, 2008

China, one of the few of the major world powers to avoid sending naval forces to deter pirates and defend against cargo ship captures, reaps the benefits of the international anti-piracy effort today….

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press Writer

An international anti-piracy force thwarted the attempted takeover of a Chinese cargo ship off the Somali coast on Wednesday, sending in attack helicopters that fired on the bandits and forced them to abandon the ship they had boarded.

In another blow to the region’s thriving piracy trade, the Indian navy handed over 23 pirates it caught at sea to authorities in Yemen.

In Wednesday’s assault, nine pirates armed with guns overtook the Chinese ship with speedboats and boarded the vessel, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

He said the 30-member crew sent a distress message to the bureau as it saw the pirates approaching, then barricaded themselves inside their living quarters. Choong said the bureau quickly alerted the international naval force, which dispatched two helicopters and a warship.

A member of the Dutch special forces stands guard near the bridge ... 
A member of the Dutch special forces stands guard near the bridge of Dutch cargo ship MV Jumbo Javelin as it passes near the Gulf of Aden on Monday, Dec. 8, 2008. The Dutch warship De Ruyter, seen in the background, was escorting the cargo ship through the Gulf of Aden, which has become the world’s top piracy hotspot this year. Pirates have made an estimated $30 million hijacking ships for ransom this year, seizing 40 vessels off Somalia’s 1,880-mile coastline. Fourteen ships remain held along with more than 250 crew members, according to maritime officials.(AP Photo/Tom Maliti, file)

“Two helicopters arrived at the scene first and helped deter the hijacking. They fired at the pirates, forcing them to flee the ship,” he said. There were no injuries during the five-hour ordeal.

“The Chinese ship is very fortunate to have escaped. This is a rare case where pirates have successfully boarded the ship but failed to hijack it,” he added.

 China Closer To Navy Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia

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