The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.
Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.
“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”
The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.
“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.
Read more » Bloomberg
The Spanish Town Where People Come Before Profit
In the south of Spain, the street is the collective living room. Vibrant sidewalk cafes are interspersed between configurations of two to five lawn chairs where neighbours come together to chat over the day’s events late into the night. In mid-June the weather peaks well over 40 degrees Celsius and the smells of fresh seafood waft from kitchens and restaurants as the seasonably-late dining hour begins to approach. The scene is archetypally Spanish, particularly for the Andalusian region to the country’s south, where life is lived more in public than in private, when given half a chance.
Specifically, this imagery above describes Marinaleda. Initially indistinguishable from several of its local counterparts in the Sierra Sur southern mountain range, were it not for a few tell-tale signs. Maybe it’s the street names (Ernesto Che Guevara, Solidarity and Salvador Allende Plaza, to name a few); maybe it’s the graffiti (hand drawn hammers-and-sickles sit happily alongside encircled A’s, oblivious to the differences the two ideologies have shared, even in the country’s recent past); maybe it’s the two-storey Che head which emblazons the outer wall of the local sports stadium.
Marinaleda has been called Spain’s ‘communist utopia,’ though the local variation bears little resemblance to the Soviet model most associate with the phrase. Classifications aside, this is a town whose social fabric has been woven from very different economic threads to the rest of the country since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the mid 1970s. A cooperatively-owned olive oil factory, houses built by and for the community, and a famous looting of a large-scale supermarket, led by the town’s charismatic mayor, in which proceeds were donated to food banks, are amongst the steps that have helped position Marinaleda as a beacon of hope.
As the Spanish economy continues its post-2008 nosedive, unemployment sits at 26 percent nationally, while over half of young people can’t find work. Meanwhile, Marinaleda boasts a modest but steady local employment picture in which most people have at least some work and those that don’t have a strong safety net to fall back on.
But more than its cash economy, Marinaleda has a currency rarely found beyond small-scale activist groups or indigenous communities fighting destructive development projects: the currency of direct action. Rather than rely exclusively on cash to get things done, Marinaleños have put their collective blood, sweat and tears into creating a range of alternative systems in their corner of the world.
When money hasn’t been readily available – probably the only consistent feature since the community set out on this path – Marinaleños have turned to one another to do what needs doing. At times that has meant collectively occupying land owned by the Andalusian aristocracy and putting it to work for the town, at others it has simply meant sharing the burden of litter collection.
While still operating with some degree of central authority, the local council has devolved power into the hands of those it serves. General assemblies are convened on a regular basis so that townspeople can be involved in decisions that affect their lives. The assemblies also create spaces where people can come together to organise what the community needs through collective action.
“The best thing they have here in Marinaleda, and you can’t find this in other places, is the [general] assembly,” says long-term civil servant for the Marinaleda council, Manuel Gutierrez Daneri. He continues, “Assembly is a place for people to discuss problems and to find the solutions,” pointing out that even minor crimes are collectively addressed via the assembly, as the town has no police or judicial system since the last local cop retired.
In his time as mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has managed to leverage considerable financial support from the state government, a feat which Gutierrez Daneri attributes to the town’s collective track record for direct action. “If you go ahead with all of the people behind you, that is very powerful,” he says.
As a result, the small town boasts extensive sports facilities and a beautifully-maintained botanical garden, as well as a range of more basic necessities. “For a little village like this, with no more than 2,700 people, we have a lot of facilities,” says Gutierrez Daneri.
British ex-pat Chris Burke has lived in Marinaleda for several years, and he explains that access to the public swimming pool only costs €3 for the entire summer. Burke recounts Mayor Sánchez Gordillo saying to him, “The whole idea of the place being somewhere good to live is that anyone can afford to enjoy themselves.” Burke adds pragmatically, “You can’t have a utopia without some loss-making facilities.”
From Occupation to Cooperation
In 1979, Sánchez Gordillo was first elected as the town’s mayor. He led an extensive campaign to change Marinaleda’s course, which began with hunger strikes and occupying underutilised land.
Read more » Truth-out
The leaders of the five Brics countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn (£58.3bn) development bank and emergency reserve fund.
The Brics group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries.
The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India.
Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a Brics summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on Tuesday.
A new player
At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital.
The emergency reserve fund – which was announced as a “Contingency Reserve Arrangement” – will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid “short-term liquidity pressures, promote further Brics cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements”.
The creation of the Brics bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds.
Brics nations have criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for not giving developing nations enough voting rights.
One of the goals for the bank – whose creation has been discussed for some time – would be to increase the amount of money loaned to developing countries to help with infrastructure projects.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently on a grand tour of Latin America. His first stop is in Havana, Cuba. Ahead of arriving in Cuba, Putin decided to bestow a gift upon the Cuban government. With one swift signature, he eliminated $32 billion of Cuba’s debt, left over from the Soviet era.
Read more » Yahoo News
1 million workers across the UK walk off their jobs to protest pay and pension cuts in the nation’s largest strike in decades
Public sector strikes hit schools and services around the UK
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in rallies and marches across the UK as part of a day of strike action by public service unions. Teachers, firefighters and council workers joined the strike, which follows disputes with the government over pay, pensions and cuts. Thousands of pupils were affected as some 6,000 schools in England closed, the Department for Education said.
Read more » BBC
Karachi: … On Thursday, the prime minister announced that they would launch the Metro Bus Project in the city and will have Rs15 billion set aside for it. “We have decided to take over the green line project in the city,” he said. “The metro bus service will start on the same pattern as Lahore.”
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Rick Newman
A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.
That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.
Read more » Yahoo News
Peru to Provide Free Solar Power to its 2 Million Poorest Citizens
By Timon Singh
The country of Peru is looking to provide free electricity to over 2 million of its poorest citizens by harvesting energy from the sun. Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino said that the National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program will provide electricity to poor households through the installation of photovoltaic panels.
If you can’t beat them, lead them! British diplomat advocates legalizing heroin
The former British ambassador to Afghanistan has said the war on drugs has essentially been lost, and appealed to take the illegal trade out of the shadow and put it under strict governmental control “to limit the demand.”
Sir William Patey, a British career diplomat and former UK ambassador to Iraq, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and finally to Afghanistan, has recognized defeat in the fight against drugs in an article written exclusively for the Guardian. Patey called on the British government to face the truth and legalize the drug trade, and take the supply of illegal opium and its derivatives under full control.
“In short, the war on drugs has failed in Afghanistan,” declared the British diplomat, calling the failure“predictable and inevitable.”
Read more » http://rt.com/news/168264-fghan-heroine-legalization-patey/
An estimated 50,000 people in London addressed by speakers, including Russell Brand, after People’s Assembly march
By Kevin Rawlinson and agencies
Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.
An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster.
“The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power,” said Brand.
Read more » The Guardian
A new study by Pew Research verifies much we already know about political extremism in America: It’s getting worse and interfering with social and economic progress. The big question is: Why?
Pew doesn’t address that question, but here’s a plausible answer: Voters are becoming angrier because living standards are falling and the middle class is shriveling. Prosperity breeds comity, but when it gets harder to get ahead, the natural inclination is for the losers to look for somebody to blame and the winners to feel more threatened. That’s been going on for nearly 30 years. Income inequality began to worsen in the United States starting around the early 1980s.
Read more » Yahoo News
The jobs don’t pay enough and the rents are insane. Now New York City’s young add student loans to their misery
Young and in Debt in New York City
Student Loans Make it Hard to Rent or Buy a Home
For young people, moving to New York City hasn’t made much mathematical sense for decades. The jobs don’t pay enough, the internships don’t pay at all, and the rents are prohibitive by any sane standard.
But now add a new economic fact of life to that list: soaring student loandebt. More students are taking out bigger loans than ever before, and in the last 10 years alone, education debt tripled, reaching over $1 trillion. A record number of college students are graduating knee deep in a financial hole before they begin their adult lives.
Still, new research suggests that college is working, economically. Four years on campus nets the average graduate almost twice as much in wages as someone without a degree. Those odds may be comforting in the long run, but not when you’re young, deeply in debt and trying to nest in New York City.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank launched a raft of measures on Thursday to fight low inflation and boost the euro zone economy, cutting rates, imposing negative interest rates on its overnight depositors and offering banks new long-term funds.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank launched a raft of measures on Thursday to fight low inflation and boost the euro zone economy, cutting rates, imposing negative interest rates on its overnight depositors and offering banks new long-term funds.
The ECB cut all its main rates to record lows in a drive to fight off the risk of Japan-like deflation and bring down the euro’s exchange rate. For the first time, it will charge banks 0.10 percent for parking funds at the central bank overnight.
It stopped short of large-scale asset purchases known as quantitative easing for now, but ECB President Mario Draghi said more action would come it necessary.
Draghi outlined a four-year 400 billion euro ($544.86 billion) scheme giving banks that have been holding back credit due to looming stress tests an incentive to increase lending to businesses in the euro zone.
“Now we are in a completely different world,” Draghi told a news conference, citing “low inflation, a weak recovery and weak monetary and credit dynamics”.
The package, adopted unanimously, was aimed at increasing lending to the “real economy”, he said.
Other steps included extending the duration of unlimited cheap liquidity for euro zone banks, injecting about 170 billion euros by stopping tenders that withdrew funds spent on past government bond purchases, and preparing for possible future purchases of asset-backed securities to support small business.
Read more » MSN
Draghi Unveils Historic Measures to Counter Deflation Threat
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), reacts whilst speaking at a news conference where he unveiled historic measures to face down inflation in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
Bloomberg News reported:
The ECB today cut its deposit rate to minus 0.1 percent, becoming the first major central bank to take one of its main rates negative. In a bid to get credit flowing to parts of the economy that need it, the ECB also opened a 400-billion-euro ($542 billion) liquidity channel tied to bank lending and officials will start work on an asset-purchase plan. While conceding that rates are at the lower bound “for all practical purposes,” he signaled the the ECB is willing to act again.
“We think it’s a significant package,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt. “Are we finished? The answer is no.”
The radical economist’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has angered the right with its powerful argument about wealth, democracy and why capitalism will always create inequality. Not read it yet? Here’s what it means
That capitalism is unfair has been said before. But it is the way Thomas Piketty says it – subtly but with relentless logic – that has sent rightwing economics into a frenzy, both here and in the US.
His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. Carrying it under your arm has, in certain latitudes of Manhattan, become the newest tool for making a social connection among young progressives. Meanwhile, he is beencondemned as neo-Marxist by rightwing commentators. So why the fuss?
Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father’s bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.
If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.
To understand why the mainstream finds this proposition so annoying, you have to understand that “distribution” – the polite name for inequality – was thought to be a closed subject. Simon Kuznets, the Belarussian émigré who became a major figure in American economics, used the available data to show that, while societies become more unequal in the first stages of industrialisation, inequality subsides as they achieve maturity. This “Kuznets Curve” had been accepted by most parts of the economics profession until Piketty and his collaborators produced the evidence that it is false.
In fact, the curve goes in exactly the opposite direction: capitalism started out unequal, flattened inequality for much of the 20th century, but is now headed back towards Dickensian levels of inequality worldwide.
OTTAWA – Canada’s economy suffered through its worst quarter in more than a year during the first three months of 2014, as activity slowed in many key sectors, particularly business investment.
Due in part to the unusually harsh winter, economic growth fell to a surprisingly weak 1.2 per cent annualized rate, the slowest quarterly pace since the fourth quarter of 2012, when the growth rate was 0.9 per cent.
As well, for the month of March, gross domestic product inched forward by only 0.1 per cent, suggesting a weak hand off to the second quarter.
Statistics Canada also revised downward the fourth quarter growth rate from the previously reported 2.9 to 2.7 per cent, and January’s strong 0.5 per cent GDP reading was trimmed back to 0.4.
Read more » msn NEWS
The Chinese investors are ready to replace European companies if the EU goes on with the “irresponsible” policy of sanctioning Russia, Reiner Hartmann, chairman of the Association of European Businesses in Russia told RT in an exclusive interview.
The Chinese are prepared to step in “if we are squeezed out (of Russia) through sanctions or other measures”, Hartmann warned during the 18th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.
“I’ve heard about 20 or 57 Chinese high-tech companies ready just to move in and replace Alstom, Siemens, BASF, and Bayer, just to name the few. It’s amazing!” he said.
Read more » http://rt.com/news/161104-sanction-eu-russia-china/
Last week, a four-rotor unmanned drone took off from a pizza outlet in the populated Lower Parel area of Mumbai, as part of a test mission to deliver pizza to Worli, which it successfully accomplished.
Read more » International Business Times
More details » BBC urdu
Yesterday, China’s state press outlets unveiled the CRH500, a new challenger to the record for conventional-wheeled high-speed trains. Its target is to break 310.7 miles per hour (500kph), which would make it as fast as the regional planes that have been flying everyone home for the holidays.
The 310.7 mph record is faster than the 304 mph max cruising speed of the Candian-built and commonly America-used Bombardier Dash 8 (100 Series), a popular regional plane with over 90 individual airline companies flying over one thousand of them all around the world. US Airways flies Bombardier Dash 8s regularly and if you flew a small plane this year, there’s a chance that you were on a Bombardier.
Car News China reports that this one-off test train is “the first of a new series real-world trains from manufacturer CSR Sifang Locomotive.” So we can expect to find these things racing between Beijing and Shanghai as fast as the little planes that serve as America’s high-speed intercity transportation.
Warning: Stocks Will Collapse by 50% in 2014
It is only a matter of time before the stock market plunges by 50% or more, according to several reputable experts.
“We have no right to be surprised by a severe and imminent stock market crash,” explains Mark Spitznagel, a hedge fund manager who is notorious for his hugely profitable billion-dollar bet on the 2008 crisis. “In fact, we must absolutely expect it.”
Unfortunately Spitznagel isn’t alone.
“We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble,” warns Swiss adviser and fund manager Marc Faber. “It could burst any day.”
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.moneynews.com/MKTNewsIntl/Stock-market-recession-alert/2014/02/10/id/551985#ixzz32HUjruRV
Stalin-Mao Roles Reverse as Putin Courts China Investment
The Russian leader starts a two-day visit to China today, seeking to complete an agreement on natural gas supplies to the world’s second-largest economy, held up for more than a decade because of a debate over the price. The contract is “nearly finalized,” Putin told Chinese media in aninterview published yesterday.
Putin is looking to cement ties with China as the conflict in Ukraine alienates him from the U.S. and its European allies. The relationship with China, Russia’s biggest trading partner after the two-way volume surged sevenfold in the past decade to $94 billion last year, is becoming even more important as escalating sanctions threaten to tip the economy into recession.
“As Russia’s relations with the West deteriorate, its ties with China will need to grow stronger,” Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said by e-mail. “Beijing, rather than Moscow, will be the senior power.”
That role reversal is underscored by the disparity of the two countries’ economic development during the past 35 years. In 1979, as Deng Xiaoping started an economic overhaul, China’s output was 40 percent of the Soviet Russian Republic’s — the present-day Russian Federation, according to astudy published this year by the Center for European Reform. By 2010, China’s economy had become four times the size of Russia’s, it said.
ISLAMABAD: The Mari Petroleum Company, a joint venture of the government and the Fauji Foundation, announced on Monday a ‘significant’ gas and condensate discovery with estimated reserves of about 20 billion cubic feet (BCF) in Sujawal district of Sindh.
“We have been blessed with a significant gas and condensate discovery in Sujawal Block’s Sujjal-1 well,” said the announcement.
The company termed the discovery significant because it was the first hydrocarbon discovery in Lower Goru Upper C-Sand in the southernmost part of the country.
It said the discovery would result in expansion of the hydrocarbon potentials for other exploration and production companies operating in the area, thus opening up the country’s prospects of tapping into new reservoirs in the region.
Read more » DAWN
A historic, long-term deal for the delivery of Russian gas to China that has been 10 years in the making is 98 percent ready, Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky has said. All that’s needed are the two countries’ signatures, he added.
Read more » RT
BY ISHAAN THAROOR
China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States. According to a report in the Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country’s northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska.
“Right now we’re already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years,” says Wang Mengshu, the engineer cited in the article. The proposed“China-Russia-Canada-America” line would be some 8,000 miles long, 1,800 miles longer than the Trans-Siberian railroad. The tunnel that the Chinese would help bore beneath the icy seas would be four times the length of what traverses the English Channel.
That’s reason enough to be skeptical of the project, of which there are few details beyond what was attributed to the one official cited by the state-run Beijing Times. Meanwhile, a report in the state-run China Daily insists the country does have the technology and means to complete a construction project of this scale, including another tunnel that would link the Chinese province of Fujian with nearby Taiwan.
In the past half decade or so, China has embarked on an astonishing rail construction spree, laying down tens of thousands of miles tracks and launching myriad high-speed lines. It has signaled its intent to build a “New Silk Road” – a heavy-duty freight network through Central Asia that would connect with Europe via rail rather than the old caravans that once bridged West and East. A map that appeared on Xinhua’s news site outlines the route below, alongside a parallel vision for a “maritime Silk Road.”
By Louise Egan
OTTAWA, May 9 (Reuters) – Canada’s economy lost 28,900 jobs in April, Statistics Canada said on Friday in a report that revealed across-the-board weakness in a labor market that is stalled and has been adding jobs at a more sluggish pace than in the United States.
The report suggests economic growth has not been gathering the speed that was expected in the second quarter and that business confidence is still shaky.
Read more » Reuters
In purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, India is now the world’s third largest economy — surpassing Japan.
By Ankit Panda
In a sliver of good economic news during an Indian election that is widely focused on economic growth, the World Bank announced in a report on Tuesday that India overtook Japan as the world’s third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). According to the World Bank’s International Comparison Program (ICP) data, India holds a 6.4 percent share of global GDP on a PPP basis. The United States remains in first place with a 17.1 percent share and China trails it at 14.9 percent. Japan, while still the world’s third largest economy in nominal terms, holds a 4.8 percent share of global wealth.
Read more » THE DIPLOMAT
Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.
” Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.
This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.
“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”
Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” ”
Research released this month shows that the incomes of the well-off have largely climbed back from the toll of the most recent recession while those of the poor have yet to start recovering.
According to the latest version of “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States,” by Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California, Berkeley, the income inequality gap has been expanding, rather than narrowing, as the 2007-2009 recession recedes. That trend has been unfolding for more than 30 years
The IMF, in a staff report prepared for central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of 20, said the recovery is still weak and “significant downside risks remain.” A January global growth forecast of 3.7 percent for this year, from 3 percent in 2013, hinges on recent market volatility from Turkey to Brazil being short-lived, according to the report.
“Capital outflows, higher interest rates, and sharp currency depreciation in emerging economies remain a key concern,” according to the report prepared ahead of the G-20 Feb. 22-23 meeting in Sydney. “A new risk stems from very low inflation in the euro area, where long-term inflation expectations might drift down, raising deflation risks in the event of a serious adverse shock to activity.”
Big changes are coming to the labor market that people and governments aren’t prepared for, Bill Gates believes.
Speaking at Washington, D.C., economic think tank The American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, Gates said that within 20 years, a lot of jobs will go away, replaced by software automation (“bots” in tech slang, though Gates used the term “software substitution”).
This is what he said:
“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses … it’s progressing. … Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. … 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”
He’s not the only one predicting this gloomy scenario for workers. In January, the Economist ran a big profile naming over a dozen jobs sure to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, including telemarketers, accountants and retail workers.
Gates believes that the tax codes are going to need to change to encourage companies to hire employees, including, perhaps, eliminating income and payroll taxes altogether. He’s also not a fan of raising the minimum wage, fearing that it will discourage employers from hiring workers in the very categories of jobs that are most threatened by automation.