or recession? Five issues that will make or break
the economy in 2015
The first item today is a reflection about what the economy will bring
in 2015. This is by Larry Elliott and Angela Monaghan, on The Guardian:
This starts as
The world economy enters
2015 at a fork in the road. One track leads to the self-sustaining
vigorous recovery that policy makers have sought in vain ever since the
financial crisis erupted in 2007. Lower oil prices get consumers
spending and businesses investing. Memories of the biggest recession
since the 1930s are finally banished. The rest of the world starts to
look like a revitalised US.
The other track leads
back towards recession. Problems that have been stored up since 2008-09
can be contained no longer. A financial crisis erupts in the emerging
markets. China has a hard landing. Greece sparks off a fresh phase to
the eurozone’s struggle for survival. Deflation sets in. The rest of
the world starts to look like Japan. Here, then, are five issues that
will define a make-or-break year.
OK - though I strongly
suspect the second alternative is vastly more probable than the first,
simply because nothing has been done to tame the factors that
started the last crisis, and notably not a rise in income for the 90%,
who do not have high incomes, but from whom most of the money must
nor any way to limit the infinite greed of the banks' managers.
Besides, it seems to me
that both might be true: on the one hand, a recovery
for the few rich, mostly because of a rise in the money made from
shares, and a continued depression for the many poor, simply
because they do not have enough money.
The five issues that are
discussed in the rest of the article are these, and these are just the titles
of the issues, each of which gets some
Russia and the Ukraine
You can read them
(and I certainly don't agree with everything), but I suppose your
general impression will be like mine: It tries to be more positive than
seems justified, especially in view of the fact that nothing
has been done to tame the banks' greed, and in fact several things were
done to make them profit even more.
Calls Out NSA's Christmas Eve Document Dump
The next item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common
This starts as follows:
The American Civil
Liberties Union on Friday accused the National Security Agency of using
the holiday as cover to "minimize the impact" of its Christmas
Eve document dump, which showed—amidst heavy redaction—that the
agency's mass surveillance program targeting U.S. citizens went on for
more than 10 years and was rife with both human error and technical
"I certainly think the
NSA would prefer to have the documents released right ahead of the
holidays in order to have less public attention on what they contain,"
Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s national security
Toomey told the paper
that the documents, made up of annual and quarterly reports filed since
2001 and released in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed
by the ACLU, "really vindicate some of the things [Edward] Snowden said
when he first described the NSA surveillance in terms of the ability of
analysts to conduct queries—without authorization—of raw internet
Posted to the NSA's
website at 1:30 pm on Christmas Eve, the
internal report reveals a large number of compliance violations,
including examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized
recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was
supposed to be destroyed, according
to reporting by Bloomberg.
Yes, indeed: Basically, the American government tries
to mislead you, and if it can't, it releases what it is forced
to release on such moments as are least likely to ignite any interest.
There is more under the last dotted link.
3. Don Quijones: How the Trade in
Services Agreement Lets Big Brother Go Global
third item is an article by Don Quijones on Naked Capitalism, that
originally appeared on Wolf Street:
starts as follows:
Much has been written, at
least in the alternative media, about the Trans Pacific
Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being negotiated
between the representatives of dozens of national governments and
armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read more here, here and here). However, much less is known
about the decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which
involves more countries than either of the other two.
At least until now, that
is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly published
by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the potential
ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind hermetically sealed
doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the public arena.
If signed, the treaty
would affect all services ranging from electronic transactions and data
flow, to veterinary and architecture services. It would almost
certainly open the floodgates to the final wave of privatization of
public services, including the provision of healthcare, education and
water. Meanwhile, already privatized companies would be prevented from
a re-transfer to the public sector by a so-called barring “ratchet
clause” – even if the privatization failed.
More worrisome still, the
proposal stipulates that no participating state can stop the use,
storage and exchange of personal data relating to their territorial
base. Here’s more from Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public
Services International (PSI):
The leaked documents confirm our worst fears that TiSA is
being used to further the interests of some of the largest corporations
on earth (…) Negotiation of unrestricted data movement, internet
neutrality and how electronic signatures can be used strike at the
heart of individuals’ rights. Governments must come clean about what
they are negotiating in these secret trade deals.
Fat chance of that,
especially in light of the fact that the text is designed to be almost
impossible to repeal, and is to be “considered confidential” for five
years after being signed. What that effectively means is that the U.S.
approach to data protection (read: virtually non-existent) could very
soon become the norm across 50 countries spanning the breadth and depth
of the industrial world.
is considerably more under the last dotted link, and it is all good,
though it will not make you happy, that is, unless you are rich and
4. Bill Maher
I like Bill Maher: he is smart, informed and funny.
This does not mean that I agree with him on everything, but if
you need that to conclude that someone is smart, informed and
funny, you probably are none of these things, and certainly
not smart or informed (which indeed few are, I am very sorry to
Here are some videos, taken from many more, and some
going back quite a few years, that show he has been saying many things
I regard as basically true, indeed also with some allowances for his
putting forward these things in funny monologues:
Anyway... I can't
it much easier to try to make people understand many things are not
what they seem to the average viewers of TV.