Jim O’Neill is at it again. He is best known for inventing the acronym BRIC (now BRICS), a group of countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and then South Africa — which, he claimed, would dominate the world economy in the 21st century. Now he is suggesting that the MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) will have the same economic growth as China if they continue their market-orientated economic policies.
O’Neill, a British economist who used to work for the “vampire squid” investment bank Goldman Sachs, is pursuing a double objective. He is identifying emerging economies fit for investment by the global banking community; he says the BRICS and MINTs are knocking on a development door, which, if they’re pursuing the correct economic policies, will open wide to the benefits of economic growth. His view of the world system regards the self-interested actions of investment bankers as contributing to the development of poor countries; he and other neoliberal economists disguise the central dynamics of economic development under capitalism.
The contemporary world has unprecedented wealth, and mass poverty. Total global wealth was $241 trillion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $334 trillion by 2018. Yet the majority of people live in poverty. To suggest that rising global wealth and global poverty are interrelated, and that the former is premised upon the latter, is not something that most players in international development want to do because it would reveal the sordid foundation of their vision of development.
[...] This relatively new religion, Materialism, is becoming the fastest-growing faith in many parts of the world. Many so-called Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are actually true followers of Materialism when given the million-dollar test. It is your answer to the test that decides your true faith.
The new religion Materialism has at least 1 billion followers around the world, thus making it the most important and dominant faith today. This new belief has its own god, whose name is Money Power Wealth. Its birthplace was Manhattan, birthdate some time around the 1980s, parents unknown.
George Soros, the billionaire investor, believes the banking sector is a “parasite” holding back the economic recovery and an “incestuous” relationship with regulators means little has been done to resolve the issues behind the 2008 crisis. “The banking sector is acting as a parasite on the real economy,” Mr Soros said in his new book “The Tragedy of the European Union”.
“The profitability of the finance industry has been excessive. For a while 35pc of all corporate profits in the United Kingdom and the United States came from the financial sector. That’s absurd.” Mr Soros outlined how the problems that caused the Eurozone economic crisis remain largely unresolved.
‘Abby Martin goes over the strange rituals of secret societies, remarking on the Yale fraternity ‘Skull & Bones’ calling out the surreptitious behavior of two the society’s most famous members including George W Bush and John Kerry.’ (Breaking the Set)
Is there a vaster chasm than that between ‘worthy charitable giving’ and ‘swindlers at the top of society’? This is par for the course though when you do an internet search for the Freemasons. Last week brought more hard evidence of the latter (and darker), with the second leaked report from UK criminal justice authorities in as many years to conclude that mobsters use Freemasonry to freely recruit corrupt detectives, being one of ‘the most difficult aspects of organized crime corruption to proof against.’
Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius report was written over a decade ago but has only this week been made public by The Independent’s investigations editor, Tom Harper. It follows on from Project Riverside, revealed by Channel 4 News’ Andy Davies in March 2012 from the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), which also describes Freemasonry in round terms as ‘a firm within a firm’. Incredible though it may seem, although paid for with public money, both these reports have taken nearly a decade to surface, and then only as partial press leaks.
So why did the authors of Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius’ find Freemasons so difficult to winkle out? Most know Freemasonry sits somewhere between a religious cult and a pyramid selling scheme but have no idea where ‘The Craft’ came from, or what makes Masons tick. It’s the oath of secrecy, similar to the Mafia’s Omertà, on pain of death, which, in theory, makes any revelation about ‘The Craft’ a slip of the tongue you can die for.
- Wikipedia: Prince Michael of Kent
- Would you want to be a Freemason?
- How gangs used the Freemasons to corrupt police
- Freemasons’ millions aren’t true charity, rules judge
- Freemason cops banned from working on Hillsborough cover-up probe
- Nick Davies: Freemasons in the police
- Wikipedia: Propaganda Due (1945-1976)
- Wikipedia: Suppression of Freemasonry
- Wikipedia: John Robison, author of ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy…’
- The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Freemasons by Stephen Knight
- Inside the Brotherhood: Explosive Secrets of the Freemasons by Martin Short
- Inside The Brotherhood: Documentary based on the book by Martin Short
- Rites and Wrongs: HTV documentary on Gloucestershire Freemasons
- Freemasonry Watch: Archive of British Masonry in the News
Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight of Jews at Kristallnacht, Wall Street titans are saying that they’re sick of being beaten up, and this week, a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, proclaimed that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons.”
Ross’s statement seemed particularly odd, because two years ago, I met Ross at an event that might single-handedly explain why the rest of the country still hates financial tycoons – the annual black-tie induction ceremony of a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi.
“Good evening, Exalted High Council, former Grand Swipes, Grand Swipes-in-waiting, fellow Wall Street Kappas, Kappas from the Spring Street and Montgomery Street chapters, and worthless neophytes!”
It was January 2012, and Ross, wearing a tuxedo and purple velvet moccasins embroidered with the fraternity’s Greek letters, was standing at the dais of the St. Regis Hotel ballroom, welcoming a crowd of two hundred wealthy and famous Wall Street figures to the Kappa Beta Phi dinner. Ross, the leader (or “Grand Swipe”) of the fraternity, was preparing to invite 21 new members — “neophytes,” as the group called them — to join its exclusive ranks.
The United States was the world’s first middle-class nation, which was a big factor in its rapid growth. Mid-19th-century British travelers marveled at American workers’ “ductility of mind and the readiness…for a new thing” and admired how hard and willingly they labored. Abraham Lincoln attributed it the knowledge that “humblest man [had] an equal chance to get rich with everyone else.”
Most Americans still think of themselves as middle class. But the marketing experts at the big consumer goods companies are giving their bosses the unsentimental advice that the middle class is an endangered species. Restaurants, appliance makers, grocery chains, hotels are learning that they either have to go completely up-scale, or focus on bargains for the struggling and budget-conscious.
Current income surveys, for statistical reasons, usually segment families by broad categories, which obscure the recent radical shift of income to a thin stratum of the super-rich. Well-to-do people may buy $100 coffee pots, but the lion’s share of the income growth has been going to folks with five houses and staff to make the coffee.
For the last 15 years, an international consortium of economists has been building data bases on the income shares of the richest people in the developed countries, based on pre-tax market income including capital gains and tax-exempt income, and excluding government transfers. The American data reveals the greatest inequality by far, followed by Great Britain.
The stunning income distribution has a remarkable symmetry. In 2012, the top 10 percent captured half of all reported income. But the top 1 percent got almost half of that — 22.5 percent — while the top 10th of 1 percent (0.1 percent) captured half of that. All three are within a few decimal places of the previous highs — which occurred in 1928, just before the market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.
[...] A few decades ago, a bipartisan political consensus would have developed to challenge these rorts. Not so now. We are increasingly producing a nation of millionaires who have pulled up the drawbridge behind them. The prosperous are easily angered and more inclined to share their anger than their wealth. Goaded on by a bipartisan political consensus, they rail against a “cost of living crisis”. It doesn’t exist in an era of low inflation and hasn’t done so for years. In reality, the affluent rail against a cost of living-really-well-crisis: the cost of owning a house, a negatively geared investment property and funding three kids in private schools. Take for example politician Joel Fitzgibbon, who last year issued an impassioned cri de coeur on behalf of the “battlers” of his electorate earning $250,000 per annum. Oh, and he is a Labor politician.
Although the word has infrequently passed an Australian politician’s lips in the past decade, many of the most contentious political issues in recent years have been contested through the prism of inequality. Institutions that moderate income inequality – including a much diminished trade union movement, the federal industrial relations tribunal and social welfare safety net – are relentlessly attacked by the right. A divided, weakened left grimly and intermittently defends. On occasion it is the offender, as the Gillard government did in relegating to single parents onto Newstart. The US Republican political strategy, evidently used to great effect, is to challenge any policy measures to alleviate its eye-watering levels of inequality as “class war”. That tactic has been imported into Australia.
Forget tax breaks or middle-class welfare. Rightwing political parties’ best chance of rapidly winning over voters could be via the lottery, according to new research. A joint Australian and British study has found that lottery winners tend to switch their political allegiances to rightwing parties after their windfalls. They also appear to become less egalitarian and less concerned by the challenges faced by people on low incomes.
The research analysed more than 4,000 British citizens who won up to £200,000 ($365,000) on the country’s national lottery. Most of these wins were of relatively small amounts, with only 541 people winning over £500 ($910). In all, there were around 11,000 observations of winners, due to the fact that many people won money more than once. Even among those who won small amounts of money, researchers found a clear trend of lottery winners switching support from the Labour party, traditionally a leftwing party, to the rightwing Conservatives.
Flipping the Corruption Myth: Corruption is by far not the main factor behind persisting poverty in the Global South
Transparency International recently published their latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), laid out in an eye-catching map of the world with the least corrupt nations coded in happy yellow and the most corrupt nations smeared in stigmatising red. The CPI defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit”, and draws its data from 12 different institutions including the World Bank, Freedom House, and the World Economic Forum.
When I first saw this map I was struck by the fact that most of the yellow areas happen to be rich Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, whereas red covers almost the entirety of the global South, with countries like South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia daubed especially dark.
This geographical division fits squarely with mainstream views, which see corruption as the scourge of the developing world (cue cliche images of dictators in Africa and bribery in India). But is this storyline accurate?
Many international development organisations hold that persistent poverty in the Global South is caused largely by corruption among local public officials. In 2003 these concerns led to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which asserts that, while corruption exists in all countries, this “evil phenomenon” is “most destructive” in the global South, where it is a “key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development”.
There’s only one problem with this theory: It’s just not true.
Political and financial upheaval in some of the world’s largest emerging economies is driving a new wave of rich migrants to London’s supercharged property market as a place to park their wealth, data from a leading real estate agency showed on Friday. Knight Frank, a specialist in upmarket properties, said it had seen online enquiries about British homes from crisis-hit countries such as Argentina, Ukraine and Turkey soar over the past year.
“There is potentially a further wave of investment headed for the prime central London property market,” Tom Bill, associate in the Knight Frank residential research team, told Reuters. This is despite prices in London already having risen sharply after a rush of foreign buyers of London mansions, prompted by the Euro zone debt crisis and the Arab spring, along with Britain’s political stability and benign property taxes.
Amid a widening crackdown on corruption, China’s wealthiest citizens are increasingly seeking a better life abroad. The United States is their favored destination.
That’s the surprising conclusion of a new Hurun Report survey of 393 Chinese millionaires. According to the report, 64 percent of wealthy Chinese (those with $1.6 million or more) have emigrated or are planning to do so. Hurun also found that a third of the super-rich (those with $16 million or more) have established homes elsewhere.
A higher percentage of the wealthy favor sending their offspring overseas. Eighty percent want their children educated abroad. The US is the top choice for university, and the second choice (behind the UK) for high school. The reason? China’s elite are not big fans of the country’s rigid education system.
Even more striking is the surge in wealthy Chinese getting green cards. In 2010, 772 Chinese received investor green cards (given to people who invest at least $1 million in businesses in the US). In 2012, that figure leapt nearly eightfold to 6,124.
The labyrinthian design of the political network backed by the Koch brothers and their fellow conservative donors serves several purposes, but one of the biggest is to ensure the privacy of its financial backers. As we detailed last month, the money flows through a complex maze of tax-exempt groups and limited liability corporations, creating multiple barriers that shield the identities of the donors. Such anonymous contributions should be allowed, Charles Koch has argued, to protect people from the attacks that he and his brother David and their company have fielded. Critics say the Kochs and their allies seek to influence elections without accountability.
Now a document published by Mother Jones provides a rare glimpse inside the closely held network. The spreadsheet — apparently left behind by a guest who attended a recent Koch-sponsored donor seminar at a resort outside Palm Springs – lists the names of more than 40 top donors, along with the senior Koch officials they met with during the three-day conclave.
A third of the mansions on the most expensive stretch of London‘s “Billionaires Row” are standing empty, including several huge houses that have fallen into ruin after standing almost completely vacant for a quarter of a century.
A Guardian investigation has revealed there are an estimated £350m worth of vacant properties on the most prestigious stretch of The Bishops Avenue in north London, which last year was ranked as the second most expensive street in Britain. One property owner, the developer Anil Varma, has complained that the address has become “one of the most expensive wastelands in the world”. At least 120 bedrooms are empty in the vacant properties.
The empty buildings include a row of 10 mansions worth £73m which have stood largely unused since they were bought between 1989 and 1993, it is believed on behalf of members of the Saudi royal family. Exclusive access to now derelict properties has revealed that their condition is so poor in some cases that water streams down ballroom walls, ferns grow out of floors strewn with rubble from collapsed ceilings, and pigeon and owl skeletons lie scattered across rotting carpets.
Swedish gangster who claimed he had pictures of the king in compromising sexual situations shot dead in his car
Notorious Serbian-Swedish gangster Milo ‘Mille’ Markovic has been found dead with four bullet wounds to his head in Stockholm.
The 52-year-old was shot dead while sitting in a car outside his home in Ulvsunda, in the western part of the Swedish capital, just after 6pm last night, the engine still running.
Markovic was unofficially credited as one of the sources for the controversial 2010 biography about the King of Sweden in which the monarch was accused of attending strip clubs and having extramarital affairs.
Thomas Perkins is a hyper-wealthy venture capitalist. Beyond his enormous success in business, he may be best known as the man who was profiled by “60 Minutes” for owning The Maltese Falcon, one of the largest privately owned sailing yachts in the world (he’s since sold it). He’s the former husband of Danielle Steel, one of the most successful authors ever, and he owns many mansions all over the world. All in all, it’s pretty good to be Tom Perkins.
Or so you would think! Yet according to a letter to the editor he wrote to the Wall Street Journal, the reality of being Tom Perkins isn’t so much defined by extravagant wealth, luxury, comfort, and power, but rather a growing sense of fear and dread. It’s so bad, Perkins says, that being a member of the American 1% today is actually comparable to being a Jew in Nazi Germany.
Here are the top 10 examples of corporate welfare and welfare for the rich. There are actually thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments, but these 10 will give a taste.
1. State and local subsidies to corporations: An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations. Over 48 big corporations received over $100 million each. GM was the biggest, at a total of $1.7 billion extracted from 16 different states, but Shell, Ford and Chrysler all received over $1 billion each. Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential, Boeing and casino companies in Colorado and New Jersey received well over $200 million each.
2. Direct federal subsidies to corporations: The Cato Institute estimates that federal subsidies to corporations cost taxpayers almost $100 billion every year.
3. Federal tax breaks for corporations: The tax code gives corporations special tax breaks that have reduced what is supposed to be a 35-percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Antony Jenkins, the boss of Barclays, warned yesterday that there would be another financial crisis once the current crop of bankers, who bore the scars of 2008, had retired or died. “I don’t think we’re going to have another crisis like this in the next five years, but we will have another problem when all the people like us … have retired or died.”
Jenkins said the only alternative was “to find a way to box in the animal spirits (of bankers) through profound change”.
As the bonus season begins – and banks such as Barclays seek ways to avoid the EU bonus cap – Jenkins insisted there is now more pay restraint among bankers, but said banks also had a responsibility to shareholders to attract the best employees.
Speaking at Davos on whether the markets are now safe again, he was forced to defend the use of complex financial derivatives, which were described by a fellow speaker as a “net negative to society”. Hedge fund boss Paul Singer, who runs Elliott Associates, said he traded derivatives, but added: “On balance (there is a) net negative to society from this type of invention. The hedging benefits have been exaggerated and are outweighed by growing complexity and leverage.” Jenkins, however, insisted that derivatives helped customers ranging from pension funds to airlines, which use them to hedge fuel costs.
The world’s wealthiest people aren’t known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker.
The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called ‘global elite’ is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.
The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.
It’s a chilling reminder of the depths of wealth inequality as political leaders and top business people head to the snowy peaks of Davos for this week’s World Economic Forum. Few, if any, will be arriving on anything as common as a bus, with private jets and helicopters pressed into service as many of the world’s most powerful people convene to discuss the state of the global economy over four hectic days of meetings, seminars and parties in the exclusive ski resort.
Winnie Byanyima, the Oxfam executive director who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population – that’s three and a half billion people – own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.”
Oxfam also argues that this is no accident either, saying growing inequality has been driven by a “power grab” by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.
Growing income inequality is the biggest risk the world may face within the next 10 years. It has already squeezed the middle class in both developed and emerging economies, the World Economic Forum (WEF) warns.
The report, compiled with the help of over 700 global experts, warns against the chronic gap between the incomes of the richest and poorest people. It’ll become the risk that is “most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade,” the report said.
Extreme weather events such as floods and drought is the second biggest threat to the global economy according to WEF. “This is hardly surprising, given the devastating impacts of having too little water, or too much. While water’s immediate impacts are often local, water security is now recognized as a systemic global risk”, says the report.
Unemployment is another high risk the globe may face, especially among the young, which the report calls the “lost generation”. The competition to find opportunities will increase on a par with rising education costs.
Only a few months ago, Henry Kissinger was dancing with Stephen Colbert in a funny bit on the latter’s Comedy Central show. But for years, the former secretary of state has sidestepped judgment for his complicity in horrific human rights abuses abroad, and a new memo has emerged that provides clear evidence that in 1976 Kissinger gave Argentina’s neo-fascist military junta the “green light” for the dirty war it was conducting against civilian and militant leftists that resulted in the disappearance—that is, deaths—of an estimated 30,000 people.
In April 1977, Patt Derian, a onetime civil rights activist whom President Jimmy Carter had recently appointed assistant secretary of state for human rights, met with the US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Robert Hill. A memo recording that conversation has been unearthed by Martin Edwin Andersen, who in 1987 first reported that Kissinger had told the Argentine generals to proceed with their terror campaign against leftists (whom the junta routinely referred to as “terrorists”). The memo notes that Hill told Derian about a meeting Kissinger held with Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Augusto Guzzetti the previous June. What the two men discussed was revealed in 2004 when the National Security Archive obtained and released the secret memorandum of conversation for that get-together. Guzzetti, according to that document, told Kissinger, “our main problem in Argentina is terrorism.” Kissinger replied, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you must get back quickly to normal procedures.” In other words, go ahead with your killing crusade against the leftists.
The richest people on the planet got even richer in 2013, adding $524 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 300 wealthiest individuals.
The aggregate net worth of the world’s top billionaires stood at $3.7 trillion at the market close on Dec. 31, according to the ranking. The biggest gains came in the technology industry, which soared 28 percent during the year. Of the 300 people who appeared on the final ranking of 2013, only 70 registered a net loss for the 12-month period.
“The rich will keep getting richer in 2014,” said John Catsimatidis, the billionaire founder of real estate and energy conglomerate Red Apple Group. “Interest rates will remain low, equity markets will keep rising, and the economy will grow at less than 2 percent.”
Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.
Warren Buffett, who has been a cheerleader for U.S. stocks for quite some time, is dumping shares at an alarming rate. He recently complained of “disappointing performance” in dyed-in-the-wool American companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Kraft Foods.
In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.
With 70% of the U.S. economy dependent on consumer spending, Buffett’s apparent lack of faith in these companies’ future prospects is worrisome.
Unfortunately Buffett isn’t alone.