“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 08, 2008

OPEC will cut oil production. Yeah right!

Russia is making the US motor companies look like pikers when it come to burning through cash. If OPEC does cut production to increase the price, can you believe that Russia will not pump to fill the gap? Not likely.


Rouble exodus hits Russia credit rating
By Catherine Belton in Moscow

Published: December 8 Financial Times

Russia on Monday became the first G8 country since the start of the financial crisis to have its credit rating downgraded after Standard and Poor’s took fright at the recent exodus from the rouble and sharp drop in oil prices.

S&P said it had lowered Russia's foreign currency credit rating by one notch from BBB+ to BBB because of the “rapid depletion” of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and the “difficulty of meeting the country’s external financing needs”. It said the outlook for the rating was negative.

Russia’s reserves have fallen by $128bn since August to $455bn, as the country battles the capital flight that began following the war with Georgia and escalated as the oil price fell and the global crisis worsened.

S&P said Russia could be forced to spend all $200bn now parked in its two sovereign wealth funds on recapitalising the banking system and covering fiscal deficits in 2009 and 2010.

The agency expects Russia to run a current account deficit next year of 2.6 per cent of gross domestic product due to the oil price fall, putting further pressure on the balance of payments.

“There are a lot of layers of concern,” said Frank Gill, primary credit analyst at Standard and Poor’s. “There are macroeconomic and political risks . . . and Russia has not operated a current account deficit since 1997 and that was less than 1 per cent of GDP.”

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, has staked his political credibility on avoiding a sharp rouble depreciation.

The thought of devaluation raises the spectre of the 1998 rouble crash that wiped out Russians’ savings, although economists say any devaluation this time would be far less severe.


  1. Moreover, leading commodity market specialists forecast that energy, grains and metals will not remain indefinitely at their present low prices. When they recover, so will the net income of most Russian blue chips.

    SMEs, on the other hand, cannot expect to benefit as directly from a market rebound. Blue chips need, at most, a temporary loan to cover temporary costs, while SMEs need long-term funds to survive and grow.

    State reserve funds would thus be put to much better use if they were invested in SMEs rather than in bail-out plans of the country's blue chips. Most of Russia's largest companies can emerge from the crisis without state subsidies by tapping international markets as long as they have healthy fundamentals to show to investors.

    Economic Storm

  2. It's hard to shut off the tap when it practically pumps itself out of the ground. Can you imagine a well in the back yard? It's like money growing on a tree except that it's black gold coming out the ground. We have to have it and those who have it love the money too much not to pump it.

    You gotta love it. Schadenfreude, enjoy it while it lasts.

  3. For a drucken Trotskyite, By Christopher Hitchens is not blind nor stupid.

    Inconvenient Truths
    The media's disingenuous failure to state the obvious

    The obvious is sometimes the most difficult thing to discern, and few things are more amusing than the efforts of our journals of record to keep "open" minds about the self-evident, and thus to create mysteries when the real task of reportage is to dispel them. An all-time achiever in this category is Fernanda Santos of the New York Times, who managed to write from Bombay on Nov. 27 that the Chabad Jewish center in that city was "an unlikely target of the terrorist gunmen who unleashed a series of bloody coordinated attacks at locations in and around Mumbai's commercial center." Continuing to keep her brow heavily furrowed with the wrinkles of doubt and uncertainty, Santos went on to say that "[i]t is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene."

    This same puzzled expression is currently being widely worn on the faces of all those who wonder if Pakistan is implicated in the "bloody coordinated" assault on the heart of Bombay.


    In rather the same way, the international community is deciding to be, shall we say, nonjudgmental in the matter of Pakistani involvement in the Bombay unpleasantness. Everything from the cell phones to the training appears to be traceable to the aboveground surrogates of an ostensibly banned group known as Lashkar-i-Taiba, which practices what it preaches and preaches holy war against Hindus, as well as Jews, Christians, atheists, and other elements of the "impure." Lashkar is well-known to be a bastard child—and by no means a disowned one, either—of the Pakistani security services. But how inconvenient if this self-evident and obvious fact should have to be faced.

    How inconvenient, for one thing, for the government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, a new and untried politician who may not exactly be in charge of his own country or of its armed forces but who nonetheless knows how to jingle those same keys of peace. How inconvenient, too, for all those who assume that the Afghan war is the "good" war when they see Pakistani army units being withdrawn from the Afghan frontier and deployed against democratic India (which has always been Pakistan's "real" enemy).

  4. With the explosion of the Internet - including newspapers publishing online, political bloggers, etc. - suddenly the commissions were in a position to oversee and judge journalism.

    "The fact that the mainstream media are now covered by the legislation is something none of us anticipated or foresaw," said Philippe Dufresne, director and senior council for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

    The commission can award compensation to victims of hate speech to a maximum of $20,000. It can also levy a penalty of as much as $10,000.

    War of Words

  5. Here's a woman claims to be a shrink who's got the Dennis Miller spooky vibes on the big O--

    MUJERLATINA said...

    As a physician who practices Psychiatry, and who has observed Obama for over 16 months in public, read his memoirs and watched his body language -- he presents as the classic sociopath -- someone with no sense of remorse or conscience. He is an ego-maniac who believes he is above the law. When our nation finally reaps what he has sewn, perhaps only then will we recognize the obvious sociopathy that was screaming at us all the while...

  6. Can I just, you know, spend the next four years skipping over your political posts?

  7. Recently, the voters in California voted against legitimizing homosexual marriages. The first thing that happened after the election is that our governor, the ex-actor whose biggest muscle is located between his ears, said that he hoped the courts would overrule the electorate.

    It’s not an idle wish. California’s voters have become accustomed to having their votes ignored.

    he second thing that took place was that large numbers of homosexuals went on a rampage, like the spoiled adolescents they so often tend to be.


  8. In an interview published this Sunday in The New York Times, we laid out a potential scenario for the current Indo-Pakistani crisis. We began with an Indian strike on Pakistan, precipitating a withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Afghan border, resulting in intensified Taliban activity along the border and a deterioration in the U.S. position in Afghanistan, all culminating in an emboldened Iran.


    The question is what an Indian strike against Pakistan, beyond placating domestic public opinion, would achieve. There are three views on this in India.

    The first view holds that Pakistani officials aid and abet terrorism — in particular the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which serves as Pakistan’s main intelligence service. In this view, the terrorist attacks are the work of Pakistani government officials — perhaps not all of the government, but enough officials of sufficient power that the rest of the government cannot block them, and therefore the entire Pakistani government can be held accountable.

    The second view holds that terrorist attacks are being carried out by Kashmiri groups that have long been fostered by the ISI but have grown increasingly autonomous since 2002 — and that the Pakistani government has deliberately failed to suppress anti-Indian operations by these groups. In this view, the ISI and related groups are either aware of these activities or willfully ignorant of them, even if ISI is not in direct control.


    The third view holds that the Pakistani government is so fragmented and weak that it has essentially lost control of Pakistan to the extent that it cannot suppress these anti-Indian groups. This view says that the army has lost control of the situation to the point where many from within the military-intelligence establishment are running rogue operations, and groups in various parts of the country simply do what they want.

    Indo-Pakistani Crisis

  9. I think probably I can.

    But you won't.

  10. Report: McClatchy
    putting Miami Herald on salez,

    McClatchy owns Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee, and Fresno Bee, all great sources of fish wrap and fire starter.

    Also announced today, Tribune Co., Chicago, owner of the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and KTLA, files bankruptcy. Also today, NYT has to mortgage its new headquarters building to generate operating revenues.

  11. No. Just observing.

    You have the feminine mind.
    Which is something like being color blind.
    Bob keeps you guessing, and that is how...
    he out maneuvers womankind.

    Technique by Pat Boone.

  12. Down with the press!

    My 10:02 wasn't a political post, if you were referring to me.

    It was a psychoanalytical opinion, a medical opinion, by a professional, not political at all.

  13. Don't explain, Bob. Keep her guessing.

  14. She'll be back. Like that other sometimes great feminine mind, Ms. Redinger.

  15. And white bucks.


  16. I never said I'd leave.

    I just don't take bob seriously.

    I mean I really don't take bob seriously.

  17. :-)

    But, you'll keep reading his stuff.


  18. Bob and I understand each other.

    Like the rapport between combat veterans.

    Probably long hours driving a tractor has something to do with it.

  19. And my expert eye immediately realizes the Spud ain't no spectre, cause it casts a shadow.

  20. Of all the things trish needs...

  21. Bob Bletchman was a teacher, a lawyer, a mentor, a poet, a husband and an actor. But he was best known for his defense of the phenomenon known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.


    "Many [people] believe in a life other than ours," said Louis Kugell, his brother-in-law.

    "He didn't believe in any flags," Kugell said. "He felt the world was one community.

    UFOs are Real

  22. I'm sure.

    My avatar would be the nighttime sky over my terrace here.

  23. the elephant bar - from the most sublime to the most petty, in a nanosecond!

  24. Sam, Dan Aykroyd supports MUFON

    A UFO is sublime, in the real sense of awe-full.

    At least, that's what I've heard.

  25. No BC

    No college transcripts

    No Senate records

    No college papers with grades on them showing he is capable of the brilliance shown in his memoirs

    No court cases in front of a judge or jury where he words would be on record

    No health records

    No records of who paid for his expensive college degrees

    Nobody can talk to anyone who knew him in college

    Nobody can talk to any woman he was involved with before his wife

    Nobody can ask him to provide names of all his donors

    Nobody can ask him the name of the hospital where he was born

    Many have lost all faith in this country and our government.


  26. Faith is for religions, bob.

    For those looking for a messiah.

    Government is of law and man.
    More man than law, really.

    Nothing religious about it, nor has government ever been faithful to the people. So why, pray tell, should people have faith in it?

  27. Tribune's biggest unsecured creditors are its lenders, led by JPMorgan Chase Bank and Merrill Lynch Capital Corp. JPMorgan is the administrator of $8.57 billion in senior debt and holder of about $1.05 billion of that. Others include Deutsche Bank AG, New York-based investment management firm Angelo Gordon & Co. LP, hedge fund Highland Capital Management LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

    as reported by the AP.

  28. Funny that the same Robert Gates that trish is so enamoured with, promises that the US cannot win the 'War om Terror'.

    What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign -- a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and those of moderation. Direct military force will continue to play a role in the long-term effort against terrorists and other extremists. But over the long term, the United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory. Where possible, what the military calls kinetic operations should be subordinated to measures aimed at promoting better governance, economic programs that spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented, from whom the terrorists recruit. It will take the patient accumulation of quiet successes over a long time to discredit and defeat extremist movements and their ideologies.

    More of the same policies that failed Team43 in Iraq, the idea that the US can modify cultures and societies, incrementally, call it a war, and have the US electorate support the process, indefinately.

    Foolishness of the elites.

    Mr Gates goes on to make note of this, but misses the point of his reference.

    In world affairs, "what seems to work best," the historian Donald Kagan wrote in his book On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, ". . . is the possession by those states who wish to preserve the peace of the preponderant power and of the will to accept the burdens and responsibilities required to achieve that purpose."

    The responsibilities of power call for US to end the war in victory, which requires the will to acceot the burdens.

    The will, which Mr Gates and the rest of the military establishment do not have. They will not defeat the enemy, will not even advocate engaging the enemy, with offensive combat operations.

    Thomas Sowell, one black baby bobal is happy was not aborted writes;

    Once suicidal fanatics have nuclear bombs, that is the point of no return. We, our children and our grandchildren will live at the mercy of the merciless, who have a track record of sadism.

    There are no concessions we can make that will buy off hate-filled terrorists. What they want-- what they must have for their own self-respect, in a world where they suffer the humiliation of being visibly centuries behind the West in so many ways-- is our being brought down in humiliation, including self-humiliation.

    Even killing us will not be enough, just as killing Jews was not enough for the Nazis, who first had to subject them to soul-scarring humiliations and dehumanization in their death camps.

    This kind of hatred may not be familiar to most Americans but what happened on 9/11 should give us a clue-- and a warning.

    The people who flew those planes into the World Trade Center buildings could not have been bought off by any concessions, not even the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending in bailout money today.

    The suicidal fanatics already have the nuclear capacity. Incremental success at buying them off, cannot be attained, as proven in Iraq.

    Killing thirty million of 'em, will make the point against Nations sponsoring terrorism. We can end the war without a single boot ever touching the ground, in Pakistan.

  29. It is hard to pin down an accurate number but there were the preferred stock purchases and this

    At least $87 billion in New York Fed repayments to JPMorgan Chase for providing financing to underpin trades with units of bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings.


    * $29 billion in financing for JPMorgan Chase's government-brokered buyout of Bear Stearns in March. The Fed agreed to take $30 billion in questionable Bear assets as collateral, making JPMorgan liable for the first $1 billion in losses, while agreeing to shoulder any further losses

    The Federals have supplied JPMorgan Chase with over $100 billion USD in the past month.

    So Mr Crown will have no problems in rewriting the Tribune's debt. JPMorgan is flush with cash, and it's fungible. Jobs and a liberal mouthpiece newspaper conglomerate saved, by GWBush and Mr Paulson, via JPMorgan and Lester Crown.

    At WaMu, though, 4,000 will be laid off.

  30. Habu Jr. said, "Killing thirty million of 'em, will make the point against Nations sponsoring terrorism. We can end the war without a single boot ever touching the ground, in Pakistan."

    The war's over on January 20. It goes back to being a law enforcement issue, like the war on human trafficking. God have mercy on the soul of anyone who calls for the death of 30 million of his children.

    "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." -- Jesus