Posts Tagged ‘economy’

h1

Iceland on the Brink

February 5, 2009

The Independent   header
Two years ago, Iceland was top of the UN living index. Now it is in the frontline of the global economic crisis after the failure of its banks, reports Sophie Morris in Reykjavik.

s-iceland-largeJust a few short years ago, Iceland had much to be proud of. The good times were rolling so fast that one expected the country’s almost round-the-clock summer daylight to last all year. Business was booming, society overfed, and the capital, Reykjavik, was in vogue as a travel destination for rich revellers, gastronomes and culture lovers.

Iceland is a country of dramatic natural beauty: lunar landscapes, spouting geysers, sheer glaciers and craggy volcanic rock formations; an impressive but inhospitable isle floating in mid-Atlantic isolation. When, in 2007, it topped the UN’s Human Development Index for its high standard of living, literacy and life expectancy, the tiny community of 310,000 felt they had proved their educated, hard-working and resilient character on an international scale.

The previous year, America had abandoned its long-standing naval air station at Keflavik. Symbolically, the move set Icelanders free from more than seven centuries of foreign domination, first as a Norwegian and then a Danish colony, and for the past 65 years, less formally, under the wing of the US.

“The Vikings” had risen again, and this is the admiring title the country bestowed upon the small group of aggressive businessmen whose high-risk investing bloated the island’s economy to 10 times its GDP, buying up chunks of the British and Continental European high streets in the process. French Connection, Debenhams, Karen Millen, Oasis, Warehouse, Mappin & Webb, Hamleys and many more fell into Icelandic ownership. So did West Ham United football club. When Icelanders visited Copenhagen, they would strut into its smartest department store to buy expensive fashions from “their” shop. Like many British chains, it too was owned by the “Viking” Jon Asgeir Johannesson’s Baugur group: one in the eye for the mother country.

Read the rest of this entry ?

Advertisements
h1

Wall Street Robber Barons Ride Again

January 14, 2009

By Robert Scheer  • see more in NEWS & ANALYSIS     header

Why rush to throw another $350 billion of taxpayer money at the Wall Street bandits and their political cronies who created the biggest financial mess since the Great Depression? And why should we taxpayers be expected to double our debt exposure when the 10 still-secret bailout contracts made in the first round are being kept from the public?

We don’t have time, President-elect Barack Obama’s key economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, insisted in a letter to Congress on Monday, promising that the new infusion would not be squandered as was the first installment. But given that Summers is personally as responsible for this meltdown as anyone, why should we trust him on this? Yes, it sounds wonderfully bipartisan that Obama is backing President Bush’s request for spending the money now, short-circuiting congressional inquiry, but it was just that sort of bipartisan politics that created this nightmare.

How insulting that we must now accept Summers’ assurance that the Obama administration will “move quickly to reform a weak and outdated regulatory system to better protect consumers, investors and businesses.” This from the guy who, as President Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, pushed the deregulation legislation making the subsequent financial crimes of Wall Street legal. The “toxic derivatives” that we taxpayers are now forced to purchase from the Wall Street hustlers were deliberately shielded from all government regulation, thanks to the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which Summers got Congress to pass in the closing days of the Clinton administration with the same urgency that he now pushes for the new Wall Street handout.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

You Heart Corruption

December 22, 2008

allisonkilkenny1Allison Kilkenny Operation Itch Contributor
more in   NEWS & ANALYSIS      

 

“Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations.’ That’s Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize! We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it! Corruption is our protection! Corruption keeps us safe and warm! Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets! Corruption is why we win!”

The quote is from the film Syriana, and the character that delivers the passionate/delusional diatribe is Danny Dalton, a Texas oilman and member of Committee to Liberate Iran. Dalton is a patsy, and is being charged with “corruption” in order to protect a much larger, much more corrupt corporation standing behind him. He’s a fall-guy, and that’s why he flies off the handle.

Watching the Bush administration and Wall Street executives gulp and thrash like beached fish made me think of little Dalton. The stock market isn’t a force of nature. It takes men and women (but mostly men) creating very corrupt policies to create America’s initial wealth, and then her downfall. Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Nine Year S*%T Storm

December 17, 2008

America for Kids • Operation Itch Video 
 For the kids, so they know what kind of hell we’ve been through over the past nine years. “He who does not know the past…etc., etc..” 

h1

Automotive Chiefs Announce Further Restructuring, Closing Ohio

December 8, 2008

aemiliasAemilia Scott • Operation Itch Contributor

In his testimony before congress Friday, the head of General Motors announced that GM, Ford and Chrysler would push themselves toward financial solvency in 2009 by closing Ohio.

Rick Wagoner’s announcement came in response to harsh criticism from Congress toward the Big Three for not explaining how a federal bailout would help the companies compete in the world market.

Wagoner told Congress that he, along with the heads of Ford and Chrysler, got the idea as they looked out their car window at Ohio while on their way to Washington.

2008-12-07-ohioclosed-thumb“This is the first time we drove through the Midwest,” added Alan Mulally, head of Ford. “When we saw Ohio, we all had a real eureka moment. We thought, ‘do we really need all of this?'”

The massive restructuring has already begun. “We have already shut down many of Ohio’s smaller cities, and by the end of this year we plan to take Columbus entirely offline,” said Chrysler Chief Robert Nardelli.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The Gray Lady Bitchslaps Auto Workers

December 5, 2008

allisonkilkenny1Allison Kilkenny    •   Operation Itch Contributor
The New York Times lead story is U.A.W. Makes Concessions to Help Automakers. The article is pretty aptly titled because the NYT chose to focus entirely on the evil UAW parasites that are sucking the poor, helpless automakers dry through ludicrous demands such as job security and pension/health care payments.

 The Big Three claim their industry is tanking not because of their refusal to change their big, heavy, gas-guzzling car designs, but because evil workers are demanding their contractually promised benefits. The Big Three are failing not because the rest of the world is building fuel-efficient cars, but because the UAW demands that CEOs pay their salaries between the time their jobs get shipped to Mexico, and they find new sources of employment.

You see, all the blame can (and should) be pinned on the workers. At least, that’s what the Big Three claim, and the NYT seems to agree, which explains why so many horrifying facts are splayed across the Gray Lady’s pages without examination, analysis, or comment from workers themselves.

Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said in an interview Wednesday that Detroit needed the union’s help to speed its transformation, particularly in replacing current workers with entry-level employees who will be making $14 an hour in wages under the terms of the 2007 labor agreement.

That’s a pay cut of almost half for the Big Three. In addition, union members aren’t guaranteed their old job security or health benefits. Now that they’ve made concession after concession, there are still no strings attached to the automakers to stop them from closing their plants and shipping jobs to Mexico after everything has been said and done.
Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Michael Moore: Save the Auto Industry and Kick Its CEOs to the Curb

December 5, 2008

Michael Moore • MichaelMoore.com
I drive an American car. It’s a Chrysler. That’s not an endorsement. It’s more like a cry for pity. And now for a decades-old story, retold ad infinitum by tens of millions of Americans, a third of whom have had to desert their country to simply find a damn way to get to work in something that won’t break down:

My Chrysler is four years old. I bought it because of its smooth and comfortable ride. Daimler-Benz AG owned the company then and had the good grace to place the Chrysler chassis on a Mercedes axle and, man, was that a sweet ride!

When it would start.

More than a dozen times in these years, the car has simply died. Batteries have been replaced, but that wasn’t the problem. My dad drives the same model. His car has died many times, too. Just won’t start, for no reason at all.

A few weeks ago, I took my Chrysler in to the Chrysler dealer here in northern Michigan — and the latest fixes cost me $1,400. The next day, the vehicle wouldn’t start. When I got it going, the brake-warning light came on. And on and on.

Read the rest of this entry ?