‘A prolonged period of ultra-low interest rates poses the threat of a fresh financial crisis by encouraging excessive risk taking on global markets, the International Monetary Fund has said.
The Washington-based IMF said that more than half a decade in which official borrowing costs have been close to zero had encouraged speculation rather than the hoped-for pick up in investment.
In its half-yearly global financial stability report, it said the risks to stability no longer came from the traditional banks but from the so-called shadow banking system – institutions such as hedge funds, money market funds and investment banks that do not take deposits from the public.’
‘A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn’t advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington’s current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn’t connect to genuine security concerns.
So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What’s driving the madness?’
- Losing Credibility: The IMF’s New Cold War Loan to Ukraine
- Ukraine economy at risk, may need another bailout
- Do We Have To Destroy Ukraine In Order To Save It?
- GM Food, Ukraine and the Return of Hill + Knowlton
- IMF loan for Ukraine may give Monsanto t a backdoor into EU
- Putin: Ukraine’s transition to EU trade will cost €165bn
- Bankrupt Ukraine Announces $3 Billion Increase in Military Spending
- Ukraine’s president prepares to sell assets via Rothschild-report
- Ukraine Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta Resigns
- PM Yatseniuk: Ukraine conflict is draining economy, hampering reforms
- Ukrainian government to privatize all enterprises except strategic
- What Do the World Bank and IMF Have to Do With the Ukraine Conflict?
- Infographic: Infrastructure damage in Ukraine’s east is massive blow to economy
- Ukraine’s currency is collapsing, and there isn’t much it can do to stop it
- Ukraine’s Currency Drop May Swell Emergency Bailout Needs
- K Street’s Russian sanctions bonanza
- What Wiki-Leaked Cables Reveal About Ukraine’s New President
- Beneath the Ukraine Crisis: Shale Gas
- With friends like the IMF and EU, Ukraine doesn’t need enemies
- Ukraine Wants to Become the Silicon Valley of Europe
- Was The Price Of Ukraine’s “Liberation” The Handover Of Its Gold To The Fed?
‘The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has been charged with “simple negligence” over her handling of a controversial €400m payout to French business tycoon Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister. Lagarde announced that she had been placed under investigation by a magistrate on Tuesday – the French equivalent of being charged in the UK – after being questioned for 15 hours at the court of justice in Paris, which deals with cases of alleged ministerial wrongdoing.
But she told a reporter that she would not resign from her position: “I’m going back to work in Washington this afternoon,” she said. The IMF chief insisted that she had not broken the law and would appeal. The case is an embarrassment for Lagarde, the IMF and France. Judicial sources told the Guardian that negligence by a government official carried a possible one-year prison term and/or a €15,000 (£11,900) fine.’
‘Greg Palast: President Obama has failed to exercise his authority to stop a New York judge from ordering Argentina to pay vulture fund billionaire Paul Singer debt worth pennies on the dollar’ (The Real News)
- Greg Palast: How Barack Obama could end the Argentina debt crisis
- The GOP billionaire behind Argentina’s crash: Interview with Greg Palast
- Spearheading Argentina into Bankruptcy: US Judicial System Upholds Wall Street Fraud
- The Forces Behind Argentina’s Default: Interview with James Henry
- IMF warns Argentina’s legal defeat may have wider implications
- Greg Palast in 2001: IMF’s four steps to damnation
- 1998–2002 Argentine great depression
‘Ghana has said it will seek financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help strengthen the West African nation’s currency. The cedi has fallen 40% against the US dollar this year, making it one of the world’s worst-performing currencies. Ghana, once seen as a shining example of economic strength in the region, is also struggling with high inflation.
The country last went to the IMF for help in 2009, when it secured a $600m (£360m), three-year aid package. Despite being a major exporter of gold, oil and cocoa, Ghana is struggling with large current account and budget deficits. Last week, the country’s finance minister told the BBC the country would fix its currency problems itself and only go to the IMF as a last resort. Many experts see the decision to go to the IMF as the first admission by the government that the economy is in bad shape.’
‘Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions.
Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of ‘capital’, how it is generated, and what its real function is.’
‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
- Is the New BRICS Bank a Challenge to US Global Financial Power? With Michael Hudson & Leon Panitch
- Marc Weisbrot talks the BRICS Summit
- Jim Rickards: BRICS Development Bank A Significant Step Away From The Dollar
- Pepe Escobar: BRICS against Washington consensus
- BRICS establish $100bn bank in challenge Western dominance
- BRICS nations hope to bankroll a changing world order
- Pepe Escobar: BRICS against Washington consensus
- BRICS establish $100bn bank in challenge Western dominance
- New BRICS bank to be based in China, India to have presidency
- Putin tells BRICS to set up energy bloc to boost safety
- The BRICS try to reshape the world
- BRICS summit: Banking on a new global order
‘China is moving forward with a plan to create its own version of the World Bank, which will rival institutions that are under the sway of the US and the West. The bank will start with $100 billion in capital. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan. The $100 billion in capital is double that originally proposed, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
A member of the World Bank, China has less voting power than countries like the US, Japan, and the UK. It is in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc, giving it less of a voice. In the Asian Development Bank, China only holds a 5.5 percent share, compared to America’s 15.7 percent share and Japan’s 15.6 share. At the International Monetary Fund, China pays a 4 percent quota, whereas the US pays nearly 18 percent, and therefore has more influence within the organization and where loans go. “China feels it can’t get anything done in the World Bank or the IMF so it wants to set up its own World Bank that it can control itself,” the FT quoted a source close to discussions as saying.’
- China expands plans for World Bank rival
- BRICS nations hope to bankroll a changing world order
- A new BRICS bank to mark global shift
- BRICS emerging nations close to launching bank; to start lending in 2016
- BRICS creating parallel Monetary Fund disillusioned with IMF and World Bank
- BRICS agree to capitalize development bank at $100bn
‘After more than six decades of dictating development policy in much of the emerging world, the Western-led International Monetary Fund and World Bank may soon have some competition.
The BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are reportedly close to finalizing their long-awaited development bank and currency reserve, each valued at $100 billion, in what has been billed as a historic challenge by the world’s emerging economies to a global financial architecture that has been dominated by the U.S. and Western Europe since its post–World War II inception.
The BRICS nations first announced their plans for the bank in March 2013 but struggled to reach an agreement over China’s desire to hold a greater stake in the institution. But a Brazilian government official told Reuters last week that the five members were ready to split funding and control equally, clearing the last major hurdle for a launch in 2016.
To economists in the developing world, who have long criticized the World Bank and IMF as anathema to the countries they purport to help, the New Development Bank holds tremendous promise. Critics say the West has taken advantage of its monopoly in international lending to wield outsize influence in the economic and political affairs of developing countries, dictating development models that further entrench these countries’ subservience to the West.
But unlike the U.S. and Europe, who are in lockstep on most things, the BRICS countries have little in common but a shared ambition to rebalance the global economic order.’
‘The night in 2002 when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won his landslide victory in Brazil’s presidential elections, he warned supporters: “So far, it has been easy. The hard part begins now.” He wasn’t wrong. As head of the leftwing Workers’ party he was elected on a platform of fighting poverty and redistributing wealth. A year earlier, the party had produced a document, Another Brazil is Possible, laying out its electoral programme. In a section entitled “The Necessary Rupture”, it argued: “Regarding the foreign debt, now predominantly private, it will be necessary to denounce the agreement with the IMF, in order to free the economic policy from the restrictions imposed on growth and on the defence of Brazilian commercial interests.”
But on the way to Lula’s inauguration the invisible hand of the market tore up his electoral promises and boxed the country around the ears for its reckless democratic choice. In the three months between his winning and being sworn in, the currency plummeted by 30%, $6bn in hot money left the country, and some agencies gave Brazil the highest debt-risk ratings in the world. “We are in government but not in power,” said Lula’s close aide, Dominican friar Frei Betto. “Power today is global power, the power of the big companies, the power of financial capital.”‘
‘Like many a nation before it, Ukraine is about to become a dependent of the IMF. The IMF and the Ukrainian interim government have agreed a $17bn loan over the next two years, together with a package of measure to hike up gas prices by 50%, slash public spending, suspend the minimum wage and cut public sector wages. All before those pesky presidential elections at the end of May.
Ukraine’s budget deficit currently stands at 9%, it’s public debt at 41% of GDP and external debt at 79% of GDP. This isn’t great, but the US, the UK, Japan and Italy all have debts far in excess of Ukraine, exceeding 100% of GDP.
By the IMF’s own estimates, its programme of hiking up energy prices, cutting wages and depreciating the currency will result in a sharp contraction of the economy, a spike in inflation and an increase in the debt burden of the Ukraine:
In the current difficult environment, real GDP is expected to contract by about 5 percent in 2014 amid weak investor and consumer confidence. Inflation is expected to spike temporarily in response to the exchange rate depreciation and gas and heating tariff increases, reaching 16 percent at end-2014.
The currency devaluation and official borrowing (to help finance a still-wide government deficit) are expected to push public sector debt up to 57 percent of GDP and external debt to just below 100 percent of GDP.
Of course, it goes on to proclaim that in the medium term everything will right itself and things will improve. but, it never does. This is the same policy platform that decimated Greece, and much of the African and South American continents before it.
The game of the IMF is debt dependency, in order to asset strip the state for the benefit of Western speculators. Ukraine is about to be torn to pieces by the vultures.’
Serbia’s parliament approved the cabinet of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic who took office on Sunday pledging deep economic reform and a drive to get the country into the European Union by the end of the decade. In March the 44-year-old Progressive Party (SNS) leader won the strongest popular mandate of any government since the days of Slobodan Milosevic, a leader during the wars of Yugoslavia’s demise in the 1990s that left Serbia isolated and bankrupt. One hundred and ninety-eight deputies in the 250-seat parliament voted for Vucic’s 19-member cabinet. Vucic said entry into the EU would be the government’s priority.
The former ultra-nationalist and Milosevic-era minister, who converted to the pro-EU cause in 2008, promised root-and-branch reform of the bloated public sector, pension system and labour law, as well as a cut of subsidies to loss-making state firms. His lead role in a much-publicized fight against crime and corruption, including the arrest and trial of influential Balkan retail tycoon Miroslav Miskovic, has vested him with popularity and helped him secure 158 out of 250 seats in the parliament.
- Ashton backs Serbia’s new PM in his bid to accelerate EU membership
- Ashton: Serbia “can be example to others in region”
- Yale-graduate to remain as Serbia’s finance minister, former World Bank economist will be economy minister
- McKinsey consultant Krstic to be Serbian finance minister
- Lazar Krstic outlines new austerity reforms
- Serbia Finance Minister Lazar Krstic on Raft of Unprecedented Economic Reforms
- World Bank to Lend Serbia $490 Million After New Laws Approved
- U.S. Ambassador: Serbia won’t get reparations for NATO bombing
An anarchist Greek guerrilla group has claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a central bank building in Athens two weeks ago. The dawn blast on April 10 caused no injuries but smashed windows in one of the busiest streets in the capital. It came hours before Greece tapped bond markets for the first time since its bailout began four years ago.
The Revolutionary Struggle militant group said in a document on an anti-establishment website the attack was a protest against Greece’s return to bond markets and proved the group was still active. In 2010, authorities said they had dismantled Revolutionary Struggle.
The group said the blast also targeted the office of the International Monetary Fund representative in Greece, housed in the central bank premises, and was a protest against a visit to Athens by German Chancellor Angela Merkel the next day. Revolutionary Struggle said the purpose of the attack was to awaken austerity-hit Greeks and topple the state.
On Thursday, the IMF released the broad outlines of its terms and conditions for loans and other measures for the Ukrainian economy. What those terms and conditions mean is less a rescue of the Ukrainian economy than the onset of a Greece-like economic depression for the Ukrainian populace.
Ukraine’s economy had clearly entered a recession, its third since 2008, sometime in the latter half of 2013. Some recent estimates of the likely contraction of the economy in 2014-15 have ranged from 5%-15% in GDP decline.
The ‘IMF Standby Agreement with Ukraine’ text released March 27, acknowledges the current severe economic instability of the Ukrainian economy. What it fails to acknowledge, however, is how the IMF package will further adversely impact that economy.
- Ukraine Shocks Population With Staggered 100% Heating Price Increase While Restricting Cash Use
- Ukraine faces hard road to economic recovery with Moscow pushing back
- Ukraine wins IMF lifeline as Russia faces growth slump
- IMF pledges Ukraine $18B as PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk warns nation on “brink” of bankruptcy
- IMF “Shock Treatment” for Ukraine: Collapse of the Standard of Living
- Wheat prices rise on Crimea and Ukraine worries
- Ukraine to Cut Gas Subsidy, Raising Prices 50 Percent
- China says supports international financial aid for Ukraine
- IMF approves financial aid for Ukraine (Video)
- Senate Democrats Drop I.M.F. Reforms From Ukraine Aid
- Who in Ukraine will Benefit from an IMF Bailout?: Interview with Stephen Cohen
- EU-Ukraine Trade Deal Paves the Way for Brutal Economic Austerity. IMF to Apply “The Greek Model”
- Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?: Interview with Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers
- Russia’s Medvedev says Ukraine owes Russia $16 billion
- Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Putsch
- Ukraine’s Gold Reserves Secretely Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?
- Washington’s Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin
- Greg Palast in 2001: IMF’s four steps to damnation
IMF boss Christine Lagarde quizzed by detectives in France over £270million corruption case involving French businessman
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde was today [Wednesday 19th] questioned by judges in Paris over a corruption scandal.
The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal qualified to judge the conduct of politicians, believe the 57-year-old may have abused her position as finance minister to help a controversial businessman.
Ms Lagarde is said to have allowed the equivalent of some £270million to be awarded to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match-fixer and tax dodger who supported her governing UMP party.
It came on the day that the legal problems of Ms Lagarde’s former boss, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, deepened.
- Turning the Ukrainian Crisis Into the IMF’s Gain
- IMF reforms get new life through Ukraine
- Former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson on why loans won’t help Ukraine
- Ukraine Goes Cyprus 2.0, To Tax Deposits Over 100,000 Hryvnia (To Appease IMF?)
- Ukraine, IMF “Shock Treatment” and Economic Warfare
- George Soros Predicts Ukraine Could Ruin The EU
- Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis: Interview with James Henry
- Ukraine regime unveils tough austerity plan
- Pensions in Ukraine to be halved – sequestration draft
The United States is hearing that its refusal to approve previously negotiated reforms for the International Monetary Fund could reduce the nation’s influence at the institution, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday. U.S. lawmakers have been reticent to approve the IMF quota reforms that were agreed to in 2010 and would give developing countries a bigger say at the international lender.
The reforms would not reduce Washington’s power at the IMF, where the United States is the sole country with veto power. The Obama administration hoped Congress would tack approval of the IMF quota reforms onto legislation for an aid package for crisis-stricken Ukraine, but the outlook for that happening remains uncertain.
It was like a scene out of Le Carré: the brilliant agent comes in from the cold and, in hours of debriefing, empties his memory of horrors committed in the name of an ideology gone rotten. But this was a far bigger catch than some used-up Cold War spy. The former apparatchik was Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank. The new world economic order was his theory come to life.
He was in Washington for the big confab of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But instead of chairing meetings of ministers and central bankers, he was outside the police cordons. The World Bank fired Stiglitz two years ago. He was not allowed a quiet retirement: he was excommunicated purely for expressing mild dissent from globalisation World Bank-style.
Here in Washington we conducted exclusive interviews with Stiglitz, for The Observer and Newsnight, about the inside workings of the IMF, the World Bank, and the bank’s 51% owner, the US Treasury. And here, from sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we obtained a cache of documents marked, ‘confidential’ and ‘restricted’.
The New Tyranny: How development experts have empowered dictators and helped to trap millions and millions of people in poverty
On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010, the villagers of Mubende District, Uganda were in church when they heard the sound of gunfire. They came out to find men torching their homes and crops. The soldiers held them off at gunpoint from rescuing their homes; one 8-year-old child was trapped and died in the fire. The soldiers then marched off the 20,000 farmers from the land that had been in their families for generations. The reason for the violence was that a forestry project financed by the World Bank wanted the land.
The only thing that distinguishes this episode from the many human rights violations that happen in the name of development is that it got unusual publicity. The New York Times ran a front-page story on it on Sept. 21, 2011. The World Bank the next day promised an investigation. What is most revealing of all about this episode is what happened next: nothing. The World Bank never investigated its own actions in financing this project. Now, just after the fourth anniversary of the Mubende tragedy, it has been forgotten by nearly everyone except its victims.
The sad neglect of the rights of the poor in Mubende follows from the ideas behind the global war on poverty. Those who work in development prefer to focus on technical solutions to the poor’s problems, such as forestry projects, clean water supplies, or nutritional supplements. Development experts advise leaders they perceive to be benevolent autocrats to implement these technical solutions. The international professionals perpetrate an illusion that poverty is purely a technical problem, distracting attention away from the real cause: the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights. The dictators whom experts are advising are not the solution — they are the problem.
Two popular labels are being ascribed to events in Ukraine: it was either a democratic – or even social – revolution, or it was a rightwing – or even neo-Nazi – coup. In fact, both characterisations are wrong. What we have have seen is a mass rebellion, overwhelmingly supported in western and central Ukraine without majority support in the eastern and southern regions, leading to a change of political elites. But there are no prospects for democratic, radical change, at least under the new government. Why was it neither a social, nor democratic revolution? Some of the demands of the Maidan movement have been implemented. For example, the notorious Berkut regiment – the riot police who killed most of the dead protesters – was disbanded and the most odious of the former Yanukovych officials have been sacked.
However, this does not mean the start of systematic democratic change, or that the new government is in any way going to challenge the root of pervasive corruption in Ukraine: poverty and inequality. Moreover, it is likely only to aggravate these problems, putting the burden of the economic crisis on the shoulders of Ukraine’s poor, not on the rich Ukrainian oligarchs. The socioeconomic demands of the Maidan movement have been replaced with the neoliberal agenda of the new government. The cabinet, approved on Thursday, consists mainly of neoliberals and nationalists. Its official programme of action presented to parliament declares the need for “unpopular decisions” on prices and tariffs and its readiness to fulfill all the conditions of the loan from the International Monetary Fund.
- Ukraine Seeking $15 Billion Rescue From IMF
- Kiev government gives oligarchs top jobs
- Lew Says Ukraine’s Leaders Ready to Tackle ‘Market Reforms’
- Lew and Aso Agree Ukraine Must Rely on IMF Aid
- IMF mission to start work in Ukraine on Tuesday
- Ukraine hopes for aid soon, PM says will meet IMF reform conditions
- George Soros: Sustaining Ukraine’s breakthrough, EU expertise and markets are essential
- The Mansions of Euromaidan leaders
- This Isn’t A Revolution – It’s Regime Change
Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy “Yats” Yatsenyuk, may prove to be arsenic to the beleaguered nation. “Recall the phone exchange between the Ukraine ambassador and Victoria Nuland (Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs) that got leaked out, where she basically said ‘we want Yats in there.’ They like him because he’s pro Western,” says Vladimir Signorelli, president of boutique investment research firm Bretton Woods Research LLC in New Jersey. “Yatsenyuk is the the kind of technocrat you want if you want austerity, with the veneer of professionalism,” Signorelli said. “He’s the type of guy who can hobnob with the European elite. A Mario Monti type: unelected and willing to do the IMFs bidding,” he said.
[...] Despite these ominous signs, Ukraine Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt hailed the current crisis as “a day for the history books.” Most of the mainstream media have leaned decisively in the anti-Yanukovych camp. Ukraine’s new 450-seat parliament approved the appointment of the former Central Banker Yatsenyuk on Thursday by a vote of 371 to 1. Oddly enough, earlier this month, the pro-Western Yats trailed behind popular opposition leaders such as former heavyweight boxer Viltali Klitschko and the leader of the nationalist, Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok. But Yats had friends in high places and while he does not have strong support of the electorate, and would have no chance of winning an election, he is pro-IMF austerity and apparently the bulk of parliament is as well.
“Yatsenyuk was saying that what the Greeks did to themselves we are going to do ourselves,” said Signorelli. “He wants to follow the Greek economic model. Who the hell wants to follow that?” Also today, Yatsenyuk promised to implement “very unpopular measures” to stabilize the country’s finances. The government said it needs $35 billion to support the country over the next two years. His language in a news report broadcast by Bloomberg today indicates he is heading toward a potentially destabilizing austerity campaign
- The not-so-revolutionary new Ukraine government
- Naming of Officials in Ukraine Reflects Homage to Power of the Street
- Ukraine asks IMF for help on new financial aid program
- US’s Lew, IMF’s Lagarde Agree Ukraine Needs IMF, Bilateral Help
- Europeans question Brussels’ plan to bail out Ukraine (Video)
- Expert discusses Ukraine’s financial woes (Video)
- US experts in Ukraine to help tackle economic crisis
- Biden at center of US diplomacy with Ukraine
- Mikhail Gorbachev: Bulldoze EU & US aides from Ukraine and let the people decide
- Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call: ‘I think Yats is the guy…’
- Greg Palast: IMF’s four steps to damnation
- Symonenko: Interest on IMF loans paid from pensions of ordinary Ukrainians
- Ukraine: An unstable economy, but with great resources
Historically the nation’s largest trading partner by far, Russia has been Ukraine’s go-to financier in times of trouble, a role that has often been criticized by Western nations as giving them undue influence over Ukraine’s internal affairs. Having just gone through an apparent regime change, which sent long-time Russian ally President Yanukovych into hiding, the United States and Britain are hoping to establish ties with the “new Ukraine” and, unsurprisingly, they’re going the exact same route Russia has.
US and British officials were quick to promise financial aid to “cushion the impact of reforms” by the new government, with Britain’s Chancellor George Osborne saying he was “ready with a checkbook” to rebuild Ukraine. Bizarrely, US officials interspersed their promises for aid with warnings to Russia not to “intervene militarily,” even though there has been no indication anyone had even raised that as a possibility.
- Ukraine leadership vows to steer toward EU
- EU aims to woo new leadership with aid deal
- Osborne says ready to open cheque book for Ukraine through IMF, EU
- Eric Draitser: Ukraine’s Sickness …and Europe’s Cure
- Volatile Ukraine teeters on brink of bankruptcy
- Ukraine Seeks $35 Billion as Yanukovych Arrest Warrant Is Issued
- U.S. wants Ukraine to remain unified, cautions Russia
- John McCain: Putin should be ‘nervous’
- Susan Rice Warns Russia Against Interference
- Russia Feels Double-Crossed over Ukraine – But What Will Putin Do?
- Russia steps up Ukraine rhetoric
- Russian Foreign Ministry calls for preventing deterioration of situation in Ukraine
- Thousands Call for Secession from Ukraine in Crimea
- Tensions at rise in pro-Russia Ukraine (Video)
- Dmitry Rogozin: If Ukrainian protests are peaceful, Catherine Ashton is a ballerina
- RT: US supports Ukraine turmoil though media blame Putin for chaos (Video)
- Protesters turn to mourning in Kiev (Video)
Tunisia’s central bank expressed “optimism” Thursday after the IMF released a delayed $506 million loan to support the fragile economy following major steps this week to end months of political turmoil.
The loan, part of a two-year, $1.76 billion (1.3 billion euro) package agreed last year, was approved by the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday after the new caretaker government of technocrat Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa was sworn in.
The second tranche had been held up by the political instability that gripped Tunisia after the killing of two prominent opposition MPs last year, and also follows parliament’s adoption of a long-delayed new constitution on Sunday.
Much of the Western world will require defaults, a savings tax and higher inflation to clear the way for recovery as debt levels reach a 200-year high, according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF working paper said debt burdens in developed nations have become extreme by any historical measure and will require a wave of haircuts, either negotiated 1930s-style write-offs or the standard mix of measures used by the IMF in its “toolkit” for emerging market blow-ups.
“The size of the problem suggests that restructurings will be needed, for example, in the periphery of Europe, far beyond anything discussed in public to this point,” said the paper, by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.
The paper said policy elites in the West are still clinging to the illusion that rich countries are different from poorer regions and can therefore chip away at their debts with a blend of austerity cuts, growth, and tinkering (“forbearance”).
The presumption is that advanced economies “do not resort to such gimmicks” such as debt restructuring and repression, which would “give up hard-earned credibility” and throw the economy into a “vicious circle”.
But the paper says this mantra borders on “collective amnesia” of European and US history, and is built on “overly optimistic” assumptions that risk doing far more damage to credibility in the end. It is causing the crisis to drag on, blocking a lasting solution. “This denial has led to policies that in some cases risk exacerbating the final costs,” it said.
The IMF just dropped another bombshell.
After it recently suggested a “one-off capital levy” – a one-time tax on private wealth as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability across insolvent countries – it has now called for “revenue-maximizing top income tax rates”.
The IMF’s team of monkeys has been working around the clock on this one, figuring that developed nations can increase their overall tax revenue by increasing tax rates.
They’ve singled out the US, suggesting that the US government could maximize its tax revenue by increasing tax brackets to as high as 71%.
Coming from one of the grand wizards of the global financial system, this might be the clearest sign yet that the whole house of cards is dangerously close to being swept away.
Think about it– solvent governments with healthy economies don’t go looking to steal 71% of people’s wealth. They’re raising this point because these governments are desperate. And flat broke.
The ratio of public debt to GDP across advanced economies will reach a historic peak of 110% next year, compared to 75% in 2007.
That’s a staggering increase. Most of the ‘wealithest’ nations in the West now have to borrow money just to pay interest on the money they’ve already borrowed.
What they recommend is shocking to some, and ringing alarm bells around the finance world.
Sovereign nations are facing shortages of tax revenues, and public finance is in shambles. Multi-national corporations have offshored their assets to avoid paying taxes. The IMF report addresses ideas of how to tax the dodgers that are hurting public finance.
President Barack Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as part of a review of intelligence gathering activities, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
The order is the latest move by the White House to demonstrate that it is willing to curb at least some surveillance in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of programs that collect huge quantities of data on U.S. allies and adversaries, and American citizens.
The NSA’s surveillance of the Washington-based IMF and World Bank has not previously been disclosed. Details of such spy programs are usually highly classified.
As the International Monetary Fund shares initial proposals for Grenada’s debt restructuring during the Washington DC meetings this week, the Caribbean island could gain a reputation for more than nutmeg, calypso, beaches and the 2012 gold medal sprinter Kirani James.
Because Grenada is listening to the nation’s religious leaders, it may become famous for a debt resolution deal that includes the participation of its citizens, protects the most vulnerable from austerity programmes and keeps current employment on the island intact.
Part of what could make possible protecting jobs and the island’s social safety net is curbing corporate and professional tax avoidance in Grenada.
The most interesting part of what propelled this debt deal is that the churches of this tiny island have staked a place at the negotiating table. On this island nation of 100,000 people, where most people on the street are debating any debt deal, religious institutions have taught or served a significant portion of the island’s government leaders.
As in so many parts of the world, often religious groups are the primary social service providers and in the case of Grenada they’ve earned the people’s respect.