Tag Archives: Decline

Britain ‘is experiencing same decline as Rome in 100BC’

Dr Jim Penman believes Britons no longer have the genetic temperament that sparked the Industrial Revolution

By , Science Editor

Britain is experiencing the same decline as Rome in 100BC, with the collapse of civilisation inevitable, a scientist has warned.

Dr Jim Penman, of the RMIT University in Melbourne, believes Britons no longer have the genetic temperament to advance because of decades of peace and a high standard of living.

He claims that the huge success of the Victorian era will not be repeated because people in the UK have lost the biological drive for innovation.

Instead, Britain is existing in a period similar to the decades before the fall of the Roman Republic where social tensions were rife, the gap between the rich and poor was increasing and extremism was growing.

And when added to a growing distaste for military action, which has seen huge cuts the armed forces, by the end of the century the UK will no longer have the power, or will, to protect itself against a serious invading force, he predicts.

“There are certainly parallels between 100BC in the Roman Republic where things are starting to get pretty dodgy,” he said.

“It was a time when democracy was moving towards despotism, and in Britain we now see that politics is becoming much more about individuals rather than political parties. It’s about personalities. The two party system has started to break down.

“We live in a golden age where there have been no major wars in Europe for three quarters of a century. But the economy is stagnating and we’re having fewer children.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11562374/Britain-is-experiencing-same-decline-as-Rome-in-100BC.html

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much, much worse.

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

Continue reading The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

IMF downgrades global growth forecast again

Conditions have worsened in past 3 months, demanding more ‘aggressive’ action

By CBC News

The International Monetary Fund delivered a pessimistic update to its forecast for the world’s economy on Tuesday.

In January — the last time it gave an update — the group expected the world’s economy to grow at a reasonable pace, slightly ahead of 2012’s pace.

Conditions have worsened further in the past three months, however, and the situation in Europe demands more “aggressive” action from policymakers, the IMF said.

“Europe should do everything it can to strengthen private demand,” IMF’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard said.

“What this means is aggressive monetary policy, and what this means is getting the financial system to be stronger — it’s still not in great shape.”

Canada, U.S. forecasts

The IMF says the world’s economy will expand by 3.3 per cent this year. That’s less than the 3.5 per cent pace of growth that the IMF expected previously, but a bit higher than the 3.2 per cent growth seen in 2012.

The IMF expects the U.S. economy to expand 1.9 per cent this year. That’s below its January estimate of 2.1 per cent and last year’s U.S. growth of 2.2 per cent. Still, the IMF says the U.S. economy should expand 3 per cent in 2014.

As for Canada’s economy, the IMF expects it will likely slow to about 1.5 per cent this year from 1.8 last year, before picking up to 2.4 per cent in 2014.

“The main challenge for Canada’s policy-makers is to support growth in the short term while reducing the vulnerabilities that may arise from external shocks and domestic imbalances,” the body advises.

“Although fiscal consolidation is needed to rebuild fiscal space against future shocks, there is room to allow automatic stabilizers to operate fully if growth were to weaken further.”

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/04/16/business-imf-forecast.html

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More details » http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Business/ID/2379822011/

Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

Sinking like a rock: Slim chances of recovery for Pakistan’s directionless economy, says ADB

ISLAMABAD: Amid deep-rooted concerns over a “directionless” economy due to failure of the previous government and inability of the caretaker setup to take immediate meaningful steps, the Asian Development Bank has warned that Pakistan’s current growth model is unsustainable that also undermines future prospects.

In its Asian Development Outlook, the Manila-based lending agency has painted an extremely bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy that is “directionless” and immediate recovery chances are almost nil amid a worsening balance of payments position.

“A difficult political situation stalled effective policy response to macroeconomic and structural problems, especially regarding energy, and the end of the government’s 5-year term in mid-March limited political scope for major policy or structural reforms,” it said.

The economic developments in this fiscal year are unfolding along broadly similar lines as previous year, but with “deepening concerns about sustainability and the adequacy of forex reserves”.

A missing link in the ADB’s analysis of political failures is the role of bureaucrats in running the affairs of the government who often do not disclose actual extent of problems to the leadership.

Continue reading Pakistan Economy: Sinking Like A Rock, says Asian Development Bank.

Canadian dollar falls after highest job losses since recession 4 years ago

Canadian Dollar Tumbles After Unexpected March Employment Loss

By Ari Altstedter

The Canadian dollar fell in its biggest decline in nine months against its U.S. peer after the nation unexpectedly lost jobs last month by the most since the last recession four years ago.

The currency declined against 13 of its 16 major peers as Canada had 54,500 fewer jobs in March, compared with the 6,500 gain predicted in the median estimate of a Bloomberg survey of 24 economists. The nation’s jobless rate increased to 7.2 percent from 7 percent. The U.S. added 88,000 jobs in March, versus estimates of a 190,000 gain. The Bank of Canada’s March 6 policy statement called for the economy to “pick up through 2013” on its way to 2 percent annual growth.

“Huge miss on both numbers, but particularly the Canadian number after many months of surprisingly strong employment data, we’ve finally seen some give back, so pretty swift reaction for the Canadian dollar,” said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange at Bank of Montreal, by phone from Toronto. “There’s a lot more room for this to run, I think this is just the beginning of what could be a series of weaker employment numbers in Canada.”

The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known for the image of the C$1 coin, fell 0.5 percent to C$1.0176 at 5 p.m. in Toronto. Earlier, it fell 1.1 percent to C$1.0236 per U.S. dollar, the largest drop since June 28. One loonie buys 98.27 U.S. cents.

Bonds Gain

Canada’s benchmark 10-year government bonds rose, with yields falling four basis points or 0.04 percentage point to 1.75 percent, touching the lowest level since Dec. 11. The 1.5 percent security maturing in June 2023 rose 36 cents to C$97.68.

Crude oil, the country’s biggest export, fell 0.3 percent to $93.02 per barrel in New York, after touching its lowest point since March 7. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks fell 0.4 percent.

Canada’s jobs figures brings the labor market more in line with other parts of the economy, where output growth slowed to a 0.6 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter and inflation has lagged the central bank’s 2 percent target since May. Last month’s figures mean Canada posted a net loss of 25,700 jobs in the first three months of the year.

’Ugly Across’

“It was ugly across the board, there wasn’t one redeeming feature for the Canadian employment report,” said Mark Frey, chief market strategist at Cambridge Mercantile Group, a corporate currency broker, by phone from Victoria British Columbia. “When you look at the overall employment figures for Q1 in Canada, you’re seeing a pretty bleak outlook that has turned almost on a dime from the last five months of 2012.”

A separate report showed Canada recorded its 11th straight merchandise trade deficit in February, the longest streak in at least 25 years, with the shortfall unexpectedly widening as exports of metals declined.

The deficit of C$1.02 billion ($1 billion) followed a January figure that was revised to C$746 million from C$237 million, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast the string would end with a C$100 million surplus, based on the median of 21 forecasts.

“Obviously disappointment on both sides of the border,” said David Tulk, chief macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)’s TD Securities unit by phone from Toronto. “The labor market is sort of catching up to the wider economic backdrop that we’ve always argued is still quite subdued, so this helps a little bit.” ….

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-05/canadian-dollar-extends-loss-after-unexpected-march-jobs-decline.html

CBC News – Canada loses 54,500 jobs in March

Jobless rate ticks higher to 7.2% as private-sector hiring slumps

By CBC News

Canada’s economy lost 54,500 jobs in March, bleak new data from Statistics Canada showed Friday.

That’s the worst month for Canadian employment since the recession of 2009. When added to the numbers for January and February, they show that Canada’s economy has lost 26,000 jobs so far in 2013 as a whole

The job losses pushed Canada’s jobless rate higher to 7.2 per cent.

“Official unemployment would have increased even more but for 12,300 Canadians dropping out of the labour force altogether and consequently not being counted as unemployed,” United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir said of the data.

Provincially, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta lost jobs, and employment edged down in Ontario. The only province with an increase was Nova Scotia.

Loonie sinks on news

Private sector hiring, the engine of growth that policymakers keep a close eye on, actually fared even worse. There were 85,000 fewer private sector workers in March, while the public sector was largely unchanged,

There was an increase of 39,000 among self-employed people that counteracted the decline.

Overall, economists had been expecting about 6,500 new jobs, so a loss of 54,500 represents a considerable miss.

Much of the losses came among those in the core working-age group of those between 25 and 54. Among those younger than 25 and older than 54, the job numbers were pretty steady.

The Canadian dollar lost half a cent to trade below 98 cents US in reaction to the news.

Courtesy: CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/04/05/business-jobs-canada.html

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Canada – Manufacturing sales drop sharply

By: The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 3.1 per cent in December to $48 billion, the largest decline since May 2009 and worse than expected. ….

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/15/business-manufacturing-drop.html

Husain Haqqani: Manipulated Outrage and Misplaced Fury

Islamists stoke resentment of the West—and anger over the long decline of Muslim influence—to serve their own violent ends.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week—beginning in Egypt and Libya, and moving to Yemen and other Muslim countries—came under cover of riots against an obscure online video insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing …

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

The world’s population is becoming less religious

New poll shows atheism on rise, with Jews found to be least religious

A Gallup poll conducted in 57 countries shows 9% decline in people who consider themselves religious, compared to a similar survey conducted in 2005.

By Haaretz

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?” This was the question posed to 51,927 people in 57 different countries, in a recent poll conducted by Gallup.

The results show the world’s population is becoming less religious, with a nine percent decline in believers compared with a similar survey conducted in 2005. The new survey also found a 3 percent increase of people who consider themselves atheists. Altogether, 59 percent of the world’s population defines itself today as religious, 23 percent as non-religious and 13 percent as atheist.

Of the religions surveyed in the poll, Jews were found to be the least religious: Only 38 percent of the Jewish population worldwide considers itself religious, while 54 sees itself as non-religious and 2 percent categorizes itself as atheist. In comparison, 97 percent of Buddhists, 83 percent of Protestant Christians and 74 percent of Muslims consider themselves religious.

The poll, titled “The Global Index of Religion and Atheism – 2012,” was conducted in five continents, and did not include Israel. China leads the list of countries with the highest population of atheists – 47 percent, followed by Japan, the Czech Republic, France, South Korea and Germany. Topping the list of countries with the highest number of believers is Ghana (96 percent), followed by Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania and Iraq.

Read more » Haaretz

Alarm bells in the U.S.

Alarms are ringing as negative trends come together in a perfect storm. Is the United States sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical decline?

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large

WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) — Gen. David Richards, the British chief of staff, in the understatement of the week, says the strategic landscape is “worrying” and the outlook “bleak.”

The United States as the world’s strongest geopolitical player has become ungovernable, saddled with a dysfunctional Congress. House and Senate together, with 535 members, maintain 250 committees and subcommittees and micromanage muscular government decisions into unworkable policy directives.

No fewer than 108 committees have oversight jurisdiction on Homeland Security.

The latest book of Edward Luce, the Financial Times’ chief U.S. commentator, and former FT Washington bureau chief (2006-11), is titled, “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent.”

America, he says, is sleepwalking into economic and geopolitical decline.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/de-Borchgrave/2012/05/29/Commentary-Alarm-bells-in-the-US/UPI-42381338299783/#ixzz1wIdSUlVl

The Future of History – By Francis Fukuyama

Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?

Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of con­temporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE

Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences

Read more »Foreign Affairs

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history

Pakistan : A great deal of ruin in a nation

Excerpt:

Why Islam took a violent and intolerant turn in Pakistan, and where it might lead

“TYPICAL Blackwater operative,” says a senior military officer, gesturing towards a muscular Westerner with a shaven head and tattoos, striding through the lobby of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel. Pakistanis believe their country is thick with Americans working for private security companies contracted to the Central Intelligence Agency; and indeed, the physique of some of the guests at the Marriott hardly suggests desk-bound jobs.

Pakistan is not a country for those of a nervous disposition. Even the Marriott lacks the comforting familiarity of the standard international hotel, for the place was blown up in 2008 by a lorry loaded with explosives. The main entrance is no longer accessible from the road; guards check under the bonnets of approaching cars, and guests are dropped off at a screening centre a long walk away.

Some 30,000 people have been killed in the past four years in terrorism, sectarianism and army attacks on the terrorists. The number of attacks in Pakistan’s heartland is on the rise, and Pakistani terrorists have gone global in their ambitions. This year there have been unprecedented displays of fundamentalist religious and anti-Western feeling. All this might be expected in Somalia or Yemen, but not in a country of great sophistication which boasts an elite educated at Oxbridge and the Ivy League, which produces brilliant novelists, artists and scientists, and is armed with nuclear weapons. …

…. The future would look brighter if there were much resistance to the extremists from political leaders. But, because of either fear or opportunism, there isn’t. The failure of virtually the entire political establishment to stand up for Mr Taseer suggests fear; the electioneering tour that the law minister of Punjab took with a leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba last year suggests opportunism. “The Punjab government is hobnobbing with the terrorists,” says the security officer. “This is part of the problem.” A state increasingly under the influence of extremists is not a pleasant idea.

It may come out all right. After all, Pakistan has been in decline for many years, and has not tumbled into the abyss. But countries tend to crumble slowly. As Adam Smith said, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” The process could be reversed; but for that to happen, somebody in power would have to try.

To read full article : Economist

Pity Pakistan is close to imploding?

Jesters and destinies —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Whenever armies become unanswerable to the state and become a ‘deep state’, the irreversible rot sets in and results in the disintegration of the state they are supposedly safeguarding and protecting.

In his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) tells about a Roman emperor who, angered by the actions of his favourite jester, orders that he be put to death. The jester, hearing this, mournfully shakes his head and says that a wish of his would remain unfulfilled. Inquisitive, the emperor inquires and after some persuasion the jester tells that he has the knowledge and the ability to teach the emperor’s favourite black stallion to speak.

The emperor asks how long would it take and is told a year is enough. The death sentence is temporarily waived and the condemned jester allowed to fulfil his promise. The jester’s well-wishers tell him that he has committed a great folly as there was no way that he could make the stallion speak. He replies, “There is a possibility that in the intervening time I may die a natural death or maybe even the emperor could die and I would be free. Moreover, a year is long enough a period; who knows, the black stallion may learn to speak.”

Sixty-three years are a long enough period to change destinies but it seems the jesters here who took up the task were incompetent, corrupt and dishonest to the core, whose concept of a tryst with destiny remained limited to accumulating power and pelf for their dynasties. They neither had compassion for the people nor the wisdom to understand that they were establishing the groundwork for the eventual catastrophe. They felt if they could muster the support of their various masters and mentors for undisputed authority and power to rule, then for all intents and purposes the masses and their problems were irrelevant. They simply ensured by deceit and fraud that loans would continue to pour in to make their lives luxurious even if that meant burdening the people with irredeemable debts. These jesters have brought this place to this pass and the only route open is the way down. …

Read more : Daily Times