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Ghost Dog

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 16,881

About Me

A Brit many years in Spain, Catalunya, Baleares, Canarias. Cooperative member. Geography. Ecology. Cartography. Software. Sound Recording. Music Production. Languages & Literature. History.

Journal Archives

Masters of the universe strike back as dealmaking tops record $5 trillion

The masters of the investment banking universe have pushed the global corporate spending spree to $5.02 trillion (£3.37 trillion) in 2015 making it a record year.

That is bigger than the previous record of $4.81 trillion in 2007, immediately before the financial crisis struck.

The increase was driven by mega-mergers – there were 67 deals worth $10bn or more each, totalling $1.9 trillion, more than double the value seen in 2014.

The boom in large deals also helped make 2015 a record year for investment bankers. Goldman Sachs earned $2.6bn in revenues from mergers and acquisitions, taking 11.7pc of the all investment bank income from the deals. JP Morgan was next with $1.9bn, and Morgan Stanley placed third with $1.6bn of revenues...

/... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/12071700/Masters-of-the-universe-strike-back-as-dealmaking-tops-record-5-trillion.html

What good, and what harm does such corporate consolidation do to the real economy?

Spain edging towards Socialist-led coalition as negotiations begin

A Socialist-led coalition is shaping up to be the most likely to rule Spain as rival politicians laid down ground rules on Monday ahead of what are expected to be marathon political negotiations needed to form the country’s next government... (W)ith leftwing parties holding the balance of power in Spain’s parliament, the result is likely to mirror recent political events in Portugal, where the conservatives won the October election but fell to a socialist government backed by leftist parties just days later...

... In the coming days and weeks, King Felipe VI, who took over from his embattled father last year, will reach out to all parties to hear their positions and name the party that will have the chance to try and form a government. If the candidate fails to obtain an absolute majority, followed by a simple majority in a vote of confidence, the king must put forward a new candidate. If no government is formed within two months, new elections must be held.

On Monday morning, as many in Spain waded through the potential scenarios, the Socialist party ruled out any possibility of backing the PP. “The Socialists will vote no to Rajoy. We’re going to vote no to the PP,” said César Luena, one of the party’s senior officials. ..

... Anti-austerity party Podemos, which won 69 seats and 21% of the vote, said it would also block any attempt by Rajoy to form a government. “On no account will Podemos allow the PP to govern,” the leader, Pablo Iglesias, told reporters on Monday, ruling out the possibility of even abstaining during the vote of confidence. “The PP cannot form part of the future government of this country,” said Iglesias...

/... http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/21/spain-edging-towards-socialist-led-coalition-negotiations-begin

Spanish election: national newcomers end era of two-party dominance

Spanish politicians are gearing up for what could be weeks of complicated negotiations after Sunday’s general election yielded a deeply fragmented parliament, with the conservative People’s party losing ground to national newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos.

The PP won 123 seats in the election, with 29% of the vote, leaving them far from a majority in the 350-seat legislature. Led by Mariano Rajoy, the current prime minister, the party has limited possibilities when it comes to the alliances it now needs to form a stable government majority.

The Socialists, who asserted their place as the traditional rival of the conservatives throughout the campaign, came second, with 90 seats and 22% of the vote. With many in Spain still suffering the lingering effects of an economic crisis that sent unemployment rates soaring and triggered painful austerity measures, millions of voters turned away from the PP and Socialists, who have alternated in power for decades, and instead looked to emerging parties.

Anti-austerity Podemos, which was formed in the aftermath of protests following Spain’s financial crisis, finished in third place with 69 seats and 21% of the vote, while the centre-right Ciudadanos won 40 seats and 14% of the vote. “Spain is not going to be the same anymore and we are very happy,” Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said on Sunday. The PP and Socialists won a combined vote share of about 50%, compared with the 70-80% of past general elections.

Podemos did remarkably well across the country, placing first in Catalonia – where it ran in a coalition with Barcelona en Comú – and the Basque country, a result that suggested widespread support for its campaign promise to hold a referendum on Catalan independence. “Today is a historical day for Spain,” Iglesias told supporters on Sunday night. “Every time there is an election, the forces of change advance.” ...

/... http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/20/peoples-party-wins-spanish-election-absolute-majority

/... http://www.lavanguardia.com/

So, coalition politics, inevitably, with a PP-PSOE 'stability pact' possible, also a coalition of the left not impossible, including regional '[strike]nationalist[/strike]' independently-minded parties of the left. A coalition on the right with an overall majority appears to be impossible. Spanish politics has become "Italianised", it is being said, a not entirely welcome prospect for many... (Spain tolerates but mostly ignores any comparison betweeen itself & Italy). New elections soon are also a possibility. Also, note the very fast manual count of paper ballots...

PODEMOS did very well, better than polls anticipated, and are the true big winners here.



/... http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/dec/21/spanish-poll-uncertainty-unsettles-markets-as-oil-hits-11-year-low-live

The big comeback of dark Europe – GEAB/LEAP

... Fear is now the dominant feeling in Europe: fear of China, of Russia, of competition from emerging powers, fear to fail in adapting, fear of Muslims, immigration, climate warming, tax, deregulation, internet, disrespectful youth, costly aged people, food killing us, polluted water, toxic medicine, cancer lurking on us all…

This fear has solid grounds, for sure… that’s the problem with it. Modern world challenges are piling on our heads, growing vast and vital, while citizens fearfully watch the not only powerless, but also counter intuitive posturing of their leaders. When citizens start knowing more about what should be done than their decision makers, panic settles in.

Thus, political alternative solutions spring up all over our continent, as a result of the absolute requirement of change felt by the Europeans:

. creation of radical leftist parties in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia…, control of recovery of traditional left wing parties in Italy and the UK…, the emergence of a new left rooted in the peoples’ will terrifies the financial and military elites relying on media and power parties;

. strengthening of radical rightist parties in France (FN), Austria (FPÖ), the Netherlands (Geert Wilders), Germany (AfD)… mechanically benefitting from the migration and terrorist panic. These parties too are rooted in peoples’ problematic reactions, but their idea of order makes them very accessible to an alliance with the « establishment », which in the end will have no difficulty adopting their views (Cameron’s and Theresa May’s UK, supposedly « ganged up » against UKIP, but in fact they were clinging like mussels to their privileges of the reigning cast[9], provides a vivid example of this);

. emerging of communitarian, xenophobic, racist, homophobic… radical movements (Pegida in Germany, Poland, Denmark…) which organize protests and counterprotests degenerating into violence…

In this context, real threats are beginning to be directed toward the general public in the hypothesis of electoral successes granted to these parties: a general of the British army promises mutiny in the event Corbyn takes power in England[10], the City warns against Ed Miliband’s election[11], Blair predicts the end of the Labour party if Corbyn is elected as its head[12], French « bosses’ boss » announces that electing the FN will be a catastrophe for the French economy[13], French Prime Minister talks about « civil war » in case of a victory of the FN[14], the Portuguese government begs the Lefts Alliance to not question pro-NATO and pro-Euro policies conducted by the country until now… after having been close to succumbing to the temptation of barring this Lefts Alliance from taking over the Parliament as they were entitled to do considering electoral results[15].

A real danger is to see the European « establishment » put an end to ongoing political developments, interrupting democratic processes. Cases of patent attacks on our democracies have probably already occurred: the latest election in Poland which « unexpectedly » put into power a dinosaur of the « world-before », Duda, was labeled a « coup » by someone as respectable as the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz[16].

Temptations to cut public wi-fi in France[17], experiments of bank account closings conducted by Barclays in Cyprus[18], rapprochement between internet giants and member states in the name of terrorism[19], etc… Some sort of a collusion between private and public sectors is taking place, threatening civil liberties… with the consent of increasingly terrorized populations. State of emergency declarations make things easier.

As regards the European level, it is mostly its greater inertia that gives the feeling it resists better, as suggested by Martin Schulz’s recent remarks, “is there any chance the European Parliament saves us?”. In fact, while six months ago the EU was still proposing projects of political union, fiscal union, infrastructure plans, some real Euro zone governance, etc…, it has now also started surfing the wave of fear to consolidate its might: Fortress-Europe is now its main project, one moreover conducted manu militari, with threats of exclusion sent to the states which would waver in abandoning these last remnants of sovereignty[20].

But at the same time, what else can be done? The fact is that these measures coincide with a demand of the European public. The problem lies in the fact that it is now too late to do anything else than react. Future generations will judge and condemn us, but the ongoing great derailment of democracy in Europe is the result of twenty-five years of negligence/powerlessness by the European leadership.

EU democratization could have taken place like leaders in the 80s had planned. The migration wave could have been avoided if Europe had resisted this last folly of US Middle-Eastern policy, consisting of getting rid of one more dictator in Syria, at the price of additional chaos, moreover this time without giving ourselves the means for it. IS, this frustrated dream of regional integration turned into a nightmare, could also have been avoided, or at least limited, had Europe resisted regarding the previous point.

The turning point in both cases is in 2013, the last year of the Barroso 10-year mandate… also the year from which the Ukrainian crisis sprang. Two years later, in 2015, the harm is done on all fronts. Windows of opportunity for Europe to take the right paths at the right moment have closed. There is no good solution any more, nor even good players around.

On this last aspect, our team is increasingly struck by the evolution of partner countries such as Russia or Turkey. Russia in particular, this Russia which Europe can no longer do anything with other than pinch its nose and follow, is very different from the Russia we snubbed in 2013. At the time, Putin was conducting a charming offensive directed at Europe, displaying a desire for Europeanization: Olympics, human rights, potential Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Syrian crisis… the Putin of that time was playing by European rules, with the request of being recognized as a peer. The way he and his country were treated in 2014 compelled him to tilt toward China, relegate his efforts in the field of human rights to a lower priority, develop the greatest contempt for Europeans… and now that we have come to his views, Europe has to play by his rules. Wonderful success!

Somehow, the Turkey of Erdogan followed a similar path. The first Erdogan, eager to represent a modern and democratically moderate Islam, couldn’t resist the dramatic crises that hit his country and which are partly due to Europe’s failings. He too has developed the greatest contempt for this pusillanimous and irresolute Europe, and he proved it by not even caring to join the EU-Turkey Summit organized last month, sending instead his Prime Minister, Davutoglu[21].

In one year, the year 2014, Europe lost all prestige on the international scene. Its former allies (US, Israel, Saudi Arabia…) appear more and more clearly as sources of the many difficulties endangering the planet, and it is now compelled to move closer to other partners (Russia, Turkey…), formerly neglected and treated as inferiors, today harvesting scorn and disdain from countries who couldn’t care less about making any effort of democratic compatibility with Europe.

This crisis has happened, changes took place… but Europe lost the handle. It is left with fear, the reason why our team has become extremely pessimistic that Europe will manage to escape a new period of retrenchment which will be implemented by the « establishment » itself, in association with its accomplices, in order « to avoid chaos » to the European continent...

/More (scroll down)... http://geab.eu/en/the-big-comeback-of-dark-europe-the-geab-is-celebrating-its-10-year-anniversary-in-the-dark-2/

How Accounting Can Help Build a Sustainable Economy

... Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues are often referred to by investors as “nonfinancial information.” As Robert G. Eccles, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School points out, that’s not because these issues don’t have financial consequences. Rather, it’s because there are no standards for how to measure and report on ESG issues, unlike a company’s financials. Eccles, a mathematician by training and one of the foremost experts in corporate reporting, has for the past five years been working to create sustainability accounting standards for the investment community (he is also the chairman of ESG asset management firm Arabesque Partners). It’s been slow going. As world leaders gathered in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, I spoke with Eccles about the effort to provide nonfinancial information with the same level of accounting rigor as traditional reports—and what that would mean for the global effort to build a sustainable economy.

HBR: ESG investing of all flavors seems to be gathering momentum. Are you encouraged by this trend?

Eccles: Yes — but with a caveat. Long-term asset owners, such as pension funds, are increasingly putting pressure on their asset managers to look beyond the traditional financial information in developing their investment strategies. As a result, there is a lot of “greenwashing” by asset managers who are rushing to tweak their models to claim they are doing this — too often funds retrofit existing products and call it a “green investment.” I met with some senior folk at a major bank and they were laughing cynically about this asset manager who came into see them and said “We pulled Exxon from our portfolio and replaced it with Google and now we are a green fund.” All the flim flam and hocus pocus will shake out eventually once a company’s ESG reporting becomes standardized...

/... https://hbr.org/2015/12/how-accounting-can-help-build-a-sustainable-economy?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

(US) Market Volatility


... Not surprisingly, the biggest potential selloff catalyst is the Fed itself and specifically the Dec. 16 FOMC announcement, which the Fed is desperate to guide as being "priced in" by the market, but considering the Fed's track record with getting any forecast right, concerns are starting to grow. "As for near-term risks—we believe the most imminent market catalyst will be the December Fed meeting in which we are likely to see the first rate hike of the cycle."

* * *

So far so good, but to a market which has traded mostly on technicals and program buying (and selling) in recent months, there is something far more troubling than just what the Fed will announce:

This important event falls at a peculiar time—less than 48 hours before the largest option expiry in many years. There are $1.1 trillion of S&P 500 options expiring on Friday morning. $670Bn of these are puts, of which $215Bn are struck relatively close below the market level, between 1900 and 2050. Clients are net long these puts and will likely hold onto them through the event and until expiry. At the time of the Fed announcement, these put options will essentially look like a massive stop loss order under the market.

What does this mean? Considering that the bulk of the puts have been layered by the program traders themselves, including CTA trend-followers, and since the vol surface of the market will be well-known to everyone in advance, there is a very high probability the implied "stop loss" level will be triggered, and the market could trade to a level equivalent to the strike price, somewhere in the 1,800 area, or nearly 200 points below current levels.

Which would be a tragedy for the Fed: after all, nothing is more important to Yellen, Draghi et al, than affirmative market signaling - pointing to the (surging) market's reaction and saying "look, we did the right thing", just as Draghi did on Friday when he explicitly talked the market higher in the aftermath of the ECB's disastrous announcement...

/... http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-14/market-has-just-gone-nuts

Neocons’ Hegemonic Goal Is Bringing The Extinction Of Planet Earth

... To avoid the coming conflict that the neoconservatives’ pursuit of American hegemony is bringing, the Russians have relied on fact-based, truth-based diplomacy. However, neocon Washington relies on lies and propaganda and has many more and much louder voices. Consequently, it is Washington’s lies, not Russia’s truth, that most of the Western sheeple believe.

In other words, Russia was misled by believing that the West respects and abides by the values that it professes. In fact, these “Western values” are merely a cover for the unbridled evil of which the West consists.

The Western peoples are so dimwitted that they have not yet understood that the “war on terror” is, in fact, a war to create terror that can be exported to Muslim areas of Russia and China in order to destabilize the two countries that serve as a check on Washington’s unilateral, hegemonic power.

The problem for the neocon unilateralists is that Russia and China—although misinformed by their “experts” educated abroad in the neoliberal tradtion, people who are de facto agents of Washington without even knowing it—are powerful military powers, both nuclear and conventional. Unless Russia and China are content to be Washington’s vassal states, for the neoconservatives, who control Washington and, therefy, the West, to press these two powerful countries so hard can only lead to war. As Washington is not a match for Russia and China in conventional warfare, the war will be nuclear, and the result will be the end of life on earth...

... But Putin has caught on. Russia is not going to submit. Soon China will undersand that US dependency on China’s workforce and imports is not a protection from Washington’s aggression. When China looks beyond its MIT and Harvard miseducated neoliberal economists to the writing on the wall, Washington is going to be in deep trouble...

/More... http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-neoconservatives-hegemonic-goal-of-making-sovereign-countries-extinct-is-bringing-instead-the-extinction-of-planet-earth/5495482

Livestream: COP21 Paris Plenary about to start now


"(T)he United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way,” he warned."

True enough.

"Russia has vowed to replace what it sees as a coercive U.S.-led global order with one in which the West respects Russia’s interests." We should all respect each others' interests and consider the historical and cultural as well as the economic and political contexts involved, then seek to work together to build not an elitist federal 'one world order' but a workable planetary confedration.

Putin’s message on Syria isn't mixed, it appears to be honest and open. "On the one hand, he has blamed the United States for creating the conditions that allowed ISIS to emerge; on the other, he has offered to join the United States in an anti-ISIS coalition." The first is accurate and the second appears to be genuine. I don't see any hidden agenda here. As for posssible outcomes in Syria, the US and allies seek to impose regime change by ousting the President while Russia speaks of establishing conditions for an orderly transition (through elections, presumably)...

Ukraine, by European standards, is a large country. Perhaps a Ukrainian Confederation of semi-autonomous regions would work better than attempts to impose a unitary State. Majorities in Crimea and in the industrial Don valley areas did vote against Kiev's policy line.

Syria conflict: Who are the groups fighting Assad?

By Ghadi Sary Chatham House

... The FSA (Free Syria Army) was constantly splintering into competing factions. And as the war in Syria became more atrocious, it began to be reshaped along sectarian lines. A rise in the number of jihadists - both Syrian and foreign - soon followed.

By the end of 2012, jihadist groups were at the core of the anti-Assad front, securing and maintaining territorial control.

Islamist groups in Syria can, however, be distinguished from one another by their goals, the source of their funding and the composition of their manpower.

While many groups are predominantly Syrian, others are of a more international structure. The main Syrian Islamist groups include Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh Al Islam.

The most notorious international jihadist groups remain the Islamic State (IS) and the Nusra Front
- al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria. The Nusra Front split with IS in 2013, with IS declaring the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq a year later...

The rest of the article can be described as history dressed as propaganda bolstering perceptions of whatever 'rump' FSA is represented.

I'm still looking for a list of the 'Opposition groups' attendant at the Saudi meeting.
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