Comment on Only Free Trade Will Save Africa by Without Strong Property Rights, Free Trade Won't Help South Africa - USAfrica Business HUB   

[…] Hattingh, a researcher at the Free Market Foundation, recently noted that one of the least complicated and fast-acting methods to grow Africa’s GDP is by […]

Portugal's Costa Pins Debt Strategy on a Rosy Growth Outlook   


Portugal's Costa Pins Debt Strategy on a Rosy Growth Outlook(Bloomberg) -- Amid cheering supporters on his election night, Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa went out of his way to reassure investors he has an ambitious target to tackle the country’s big Achilles heel, its towering debt.The problem is that his strategy assumes robust economic growth, not a given in today’s uncertain world. The external climate is deteriorating fast and there are signs that job creation is slowing. Portugal’s four main export markets are within the European Union, where expansion is falling to around 1%, and whose biggest economy looks set to enter recession.Let’s look at the numbers. Costa said he’d bring public debt to under 100% of GDP by the end of his next four-year term in 2023, from currently 122%. In the government’s base-case scenario, that assumes average annual GDP growth of around 2%. Consensus forecasts and even the Bank of Portugal’s estimates are now closer to 1.7% growth. Rabobank even sees a slowdown to 1.2% next year, and that assumes an orderly Brexit and no U.S. import tariffs on European cars.The debt-reduction target "is quite ambitious,” Michiel van der Veen, an economist at Rabobank, said in an interview, citing already slowing growth and trade tensions. “They need to take care of the demands that people are making for more government expenditure.’’Indeed, there have been signs of social discontent, and voices demanding an increase in spending have become louder. Given his larger majority in parliament and reduced dependence on the far-left, the 58-year-old Costa could entertain spending cuts to offset slower growth.But for the man who came to power reversing some of the unpopular belt-tightening measures imposed during the 2011 bailout, the chances of an about-turn are slim.The entire strategy is to reduce debt by outgrowing it, not by squeezing the budget to pay it down more quickly, said Filipe Garcia, an economist at financial consulting company IMF-Informacao de Mercados Financeiros SA.“To reduce the debt ratio in this way, which is a slow process, Portugal needs a favorable external environment,” said Garcia. “I am afraid that, in the context of a crisis or interest rate hikes, the debt reduction process will be interrupted.”The government says that in a worst-case scenario in which GDP growth would slow from 1.6% in 2019 to 1.3% in 2023, it would miss its target, though debt would still fall to 103% of GDP.For now investors aren’t terribly concerned. On the contrary, the yield on 10-year Portuguese bonds fell as low as 0.11% Monday, edging below the Spanish equivalent for the first time since December 2009.The reason for such calm? The European Central Bank is lending a helping hand with near-zero borrowing costs, said Garcia.(Updates with Portugal yields in tenth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at;Joao Lima in Lisbon at jlima1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, Raymond Colitt, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


EU needs more troops, says  incoming foreign affairs chief as he calls for 'power politics'   


EU needs more troops, says  incoming foreign affairs chief as he calls for 'power politics'The EU must have more troops and be prepared to use them across the globe, the bloc’s incoming foreign affairs chief has told the European Parliament.  Josep Borrell, who is nominated to be the EU’s next chief diplomat, said that Europe could not allow itself to become “irrelevant” on a world stage dominated by superpowers such as the US and China.  “We have the instruments to play power politics,” he said at a European Parliament hearing into his candidacy to head up the EU foreign affairs service, “The EU has to learn to use the language of power.” “We should reinforce the EU’s international role and further our military capacity to act,” the 72-year-old Spanish socialist added.  “We should pool our national sovereignties together to multiply the power of individual member states,” Mr Borrell said, "I am convinced that if we don't act together Europe will become irrelevant."  Mr Borrell called for the numbers of EU troops that could be deployed to be raised to at least 55-60,000.  He said the 60,000 target was first set in 1999 by EU leaders after the Balkan war.  The EU does have “battlegroups” of 3,000 soldiers from across the EU on standby every six months but these have never been used and would require the unanimous support of every member state before they could be.  Mr Borrell said the EU had to speak with a unified "truly integrated" foreign policy voice on the world stage. He said the total defence spend in the EU was half the GDP of Belgium and more than in China and Russia.  But that spending did not translate into military capacity because it was fragmented among the EU member countries, Mr Borrell said.  He backed EU plans for pooling defence research projects. Some critics have accused those plans of being a stepping stone towards a future EU Army.  FAQ | European joint defence force Although that idea has been publicly supported by Angela Merkel,  Emmanuel Macron and incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, it is an extremely distant prospect at the moment.  “We have to spend together,” he said, “We have to be more operational on the ground, we have to deploy forces, starting in our neighbourhood.” “We should envisage a Europe that can defend itself while working for a multilateral peaceful world order,” Mr Borrell said before insisting this would strengthen NATO rather than be a rival to it.  He earlier warned, in a thinly veiled swipe at the US and Donald Trump,  that some of the EU’s allies were “disengaging” from the international rules based system. He also told MEPs that the EU could not allow itself to be “squeezed” between the US and China in the trade war between the two superpowers.  If his candidacy is backed by the European Parliament, Mr Borrell will become the EU’s chief diplomat on  November 1, succeeding Federica Mogherini.


The Week Ahead: Sino-US Trade Talk, Brexit and American Inflation   

Resumption of the Sino-US trade talk, UK parliament suspension, US inflation and Singapore GDP are some of next week's highlights.

A teacher doesn’t use textbooks – yet his students succeed   


American companies sell about $11 billion in textbooks each year. So why does social studies teacher Mark Ingerson never use them in his classes at Salem High School in Virginia?

He doesn’t assign the old print volumes, nor the fashionable new online editions. He has James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio’s much-praised “American Government: Institutions and Policies” on shelves only because he read that the Advanced Placement program requires a textbook.

His students haven’t had to lug home those doorstops in years. He didn’t use them when he taught regular world history, nor does he now, his second year teaching AP U.S. Government and Politics. AP students might actually read them, but Ingerson doesn’t want them to do that.

“I feel social studies textbooks are useless. Way too much information,” Ingerson, 46, said. “They mention everything, therefore students remember nothing.” A devotee of Daniel Willingham and Barak Rosenshine, experts on how children learn, Ingerson said, “I believe without a shadow of a shred of a doubt that if you want students to think and analyze, you have to first master the basic content vocabulary and skills, and really practice them.”

This past year teaching AP, he had each student compile 200 flash cards. They repeatedly paired up to quiz each other. “I wanted students to know the material so well that if I said “Federalist 10,” literally any student could spout off three to four specific ideas that made that document important and could use that in an argument,” he said.

Ingerson knows many teenagers will not master material on their own. Pairing up to review with friends is a popular break in every one of his classes. “They think it’s fun,” he said. “When students master content and then are able to apply it, it’s confidence-producing. It’s far more meaningful and lasting than checking how many likes they got on Instagram.”

If there are no textbooks, what do they read? “Real articles from a variety of sources and just tons of data,” he said. “We analyze polls, maps, economic data, budgets, etc., constantly.” His students do “close reads of all primary sources, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, excerpts from Supreme Court cases,” he said. Vocabulary is absorbed through repeated practice: monetary vs. fiscal policy, Federal Reserve, Keynesian, supply-side.

“I show them quarterly GDP growth going back 30 to 40 years, and I pick out low growth parts and have student pairs discuss what the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy would be,” he said. They can’t be ready for a three-hour AP exam unless “they have mastered the terms and everything they mean.”

Telling even AP students to take lecture notes and read the textbook is often not enough. Ingerson’s students study original sources and deeper articles. His high school encourages this. Trevor Packer, director of the College Board’s AP program, said the program is putting out new free materials similar to what Ingerson is using. Packer said AP teachers do not need textbooks if their curriculum is as rich as Ingerson’s.

The national average passing rate (percentage receiving grades of 3, 4 or 5) for the 2019 AP Government and Politics exam was 55 percent. The passing rate for Ingerson’s 89 students, half 10th-graders and the rest 11th- and 12th-graders, was 93 percent.

In previous years as a world history teacher, he had 120 students in four classes. Ninety-five percent passed the Virginia Standards of Learning exam, half or more with advanced scores.


Africa, 2nd fastest growing tourism region in the world   


Jumia launches the 3rd edition of the Hospitality Report Africa, shows travel & tourism contributed 8.5% to the continent’s GDP in 2018 Travel and tourism [...]

The post Africa, 2nd fastest growing tourism region in the world appeared first on


Comment on Can democracies solve climate change? by .    

Its failure to show the way in cutting emissions has only reinforced an argument which, increasingly, Asian environmentalists as well as self-serving autocrats make: that a crisis as severe (if man-made) as rising temperatures can be mitigated only by the firm smack of authoritarian rule. <a href="" title="the economist" rel="nofollow">Democracies huff and puff and, prey to vested interests and voters’ distaste for hard choices, ultimately shirk the task.</a> ... America under President Donald Trump, who wants to pull out of the Paris agreement, underscores the case. Global leadership on climate falls, by default, to China. The Communist Party first baked climate change into planning in 1990. The policy output has been prolific. It includes a national climate-change programme and a renewable-energy law. By 2017 China had cut the carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gdp by 46% compared with 2005, three years ahead of schedule. It says 20% of its energy will come from non-fossil sources by 2030. The choices China makes will be critical if the world has a chance of keeping temperature rises to no more than 1.5°C. Above all, coal use needs to fall sharply—easy improvements to date in carbon efficiency are not enough. Yet for all that China is far and away the biggest manufacturer and user of solar technology, it remains the hungriest user of coal. After a two-year pause in breaking ground for new coal-fired power stations, last year China began the construction of 28gw of new capacity. The total capacity under construction, 235gw, will boost Chinese coal power by a quarter. As for the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to boost Chinese prestige abroad by helping countries build infrastructure, a quarter of its energy projects are coal-fired stations. The 136 belt-and-road countries account for 28% of global carbon emissions. Without decarbonisation, that ratio would rocket to 66% by 2050, according to a study backed by Tsinghua University.

Climate Sceptics & Boris   


I'm seeing rather a lot of negative posts on Facebook as regards Greta Thunberg and kids in general. The thrust of the argument, if you can call it that, is that they enjoy all these gadgets that they're wedded to, all of which consume power. Because of that, and their stance on climate change, they should give up the gadgets and go to live in a cave. It's a pure Tu Quoque fallacy.

The people posting these memes seem ignorant of the fact that there's no need to eschew gadgets at all, or cars, if we move to renewable power generation. Simple really, when you stop to engage your brain - which they rarely do.

Another argument is that if you want to give up eating beef, you're a hypocrite because you wear leather shoes. Stopping to think, once again, shoes last several years or more - a steak lasts till tomorrow's dinner time. It will require far fewer cattle to keep me in shoe leather than steaks. Let's use the meat only of cattle that are used for the production of leather and use less plastic.

While on the subject of gadgets, why the hell is my TV called a Smart TV when I have to spend ages using a keyboard on the screen with a cursor to type the letters of a search in iPlayer, Netflix or any of the other myriad catch-up services? If the TV is so smart, why can't I just talk to it and tell it to look for a particular TV programme, to switch on or off, to change the brightness or to change the volume? That would be snart.

Daily Brexit Bulletin:

Boris' speech to conference was stirring and inspirational stuff, but was the usual electioneering promises devoid of feasibility and logic. How he's going to plug the National Debt, overcome the 6% hit on GDP that's forecast for Brexit and spend, spend, spend on infrastructure and tax cuts is a mystery. These buggers have been in power for 11 years, for God's sake, and have had plenty of time to correct their mismanagement of public services. Then to wax lyrical about the NHS when all and sundry know the Conservatives would like nothing more than to sell the whole thing off is pure theatre.

As for a 2nd referendum on what was meant to be the best deal ever (certainly better than being in the EU) and in the quickest time ever, he said it would destroy people's confidence in democracy. No - my confidence in British democracy was trashed by the bare-faced lies, Facebook shenanigans and electoral fraud perpetrated in the 1st referendum.

Boris touched, as all Conservatives do, on the myth of them clearing up the financial mess left by the last Labour government, neglecting to mention at all the global financial crisis of 2008/9 and the havoc it wreaked on almost all developed countries. But that's what you'd expect.

Conference speeches were liberally peppered with the word elite when referring to Remainers. Do they mean these chaps?

Perhaps they meant the intellectual elite who can see through myth, bluster, lies and false promises because they have a few brain cells.


Cultura e salute fisica salgono in sella - Un'intera pagina sul GdP dedicata all'ultima fatica editoriale di Nicola Pfund   


Un’intera pagina dedicata al mio ultimo volume intitolato “In bicicletta su e giù per il Ticino”. Un contributo di valore con un titolo assolutamente azzeccato. Davvero un’ottima promozione della bicicletta come strumento privilegiato di scoperta e di conoscenza del territorio!


Dr. Richard Daystrom on (News Article):This Is Why So Many Americans Are Deathly Afraid of Going to The Hospital…   


This Is Why So Many Americans Are Deathly Afraid of Going to The Hospital…


September 10, 2019 by Michael Snyder

What you are about to read in this article is likely to make you very angry.  Once upon a time, the primary mission of our hospitals was to help people, but today they have become vicious financial predators.  Many Americans try very hard to avoid visiting the hospital because of what it might cost, but if an emergency happens there is no choice. 

They often get us when we are at our most vulnerable, and they never explain to us in advance how much their services will actually cost.  And then eventually when the bills start arriving we discover that they have charged us 30 dollars for a single aspirin or “$2,000 for a $20 feeding tube”.  It is a giant scam, but they have been getting away with it for decades, and so they just keep on doing it.  And many hospitals go after those that are not able to pay their ridiculous bills extremely aggressively.  Just consider the following example which comes to us from USA Today

Waldron and John Hawley are losing their four-bedroom house in the hills above Blacksburg, Virginia. A teenage daughter, one of their five children, sold her clothes for spending money. They worried about paying the electric bill. Financial disaster, they said, contributed to their divorce, finalized in April.

Their money problems began when the University of Virginia Health System pursued the couple with a lawsuit and a lien on their home to recoup $164,000 in charges for Waldron’s emergency surgery in 2017.

I can’t imagine any surgery that should ever cost $164,000.  You can buy an entire house for that amount of money.  It is highway robbery, and those that are engaged in this sort of predatory pricing are literally crooks.

Sadly, Heather Waldron and John Hawley have a lot of company.  Over the past six years, the University of Virginia Health System has sued 36,000 patients

The family has lots of company: Over six years ending in June 2018, the health system and its doctors filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients, seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy, a Kaiser Health News analysis found.

Yes, the University of Virginia Health System saves lives every single day, but the way that they are running their operation is bringing great shame to the entire state of Virginia.

Of course, there are many other hospitals all across the country that are behaving in a similar manner.  This next example comes from CNN

When Donna Hernandez had the flu last year, she went to her local emergency room in New Mexico, where she received two IV bags of saline, a dose of antiviral medication and a drug to help with her nausea.

She says after about two and a half hours, she was on her way. Hernandez recovered from the flu, but still hasn’t recovered from the shock of the bill she received afterward. It was for more than $6,000.

Are you kidding me?

Hernandez didn’t stay overnight, and she didn’t have any surgery.

How in the world can that hospital possibly justify a bill for more than $6,000?

Like I said, they are a bunch of crooks.

But their racket is completely legal, and those participating are becoming exceedingly wealthy at our expense.  If you can believe it, the University of Virginia Health System has made a profit of $554 million over the past six years, and the CEO brings in an exceedingly bloated salary

 UVA Medical Center, the flagship of UVA Health System, earned $554 million in profit over the six years ending in June 2018 and holds stocks, bonds and other investments worth $1 billion, according to financial statements. CEO Sutton-Wallace earns a salary of $750,000, with bonus incentives that could push her annual pay close to $1 million, according to a copy of her employment contract, obtained under public information law.

Our “healthcare system” is deeply, deeply broken, and it is destroying lives all across America.

A single trip to the hospital can ruin you financially for the rest of your life, and one recent survey found that health costs are “the main financial worry” for Americans aged 25 to 45…

 According to a survey of 1,000 Americans aged 25-45, financial stress and worries are quite literally making people sick. Respondents listed health care as the main financial worry of their lives, and three in four admitted to having a “negative experience” due to financial stress. Ironically, 39% said that financial stress has had a negative impact on their health; indicating a troubling cycle of financial stress brought on by health care costs, which in turn leads to more health problems.

And that same survey discovered that a substantial percentage of respondents have actually been avoiding the “healthcare system” because of what it might cost

In fact, three in four surveyed young adults reported taking “risky” actions to save money on medical expenses. More specifically, 33% delayed seeking medical help in the hope that their condition would just go away, 27% considered avoiding medical attention due to high deductibles, and 22% scheduled a medical appointment but never showed after considering the bill.

In America today, 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies are related to medical bills, and most of those that go bankrupt actually have health insurance. Those that follow my work regularly know that I have been writing about these things for a long time, and I am deeply frustrated that things just seem to get worse with each passing year.

At one time, the medical profession was a noble path, and those that sacrificed so much to help others were greatly admired.

But now the “healthcare system” in America has become a cesspool of greed, and for many of those that are attracted to it the main goal is to make as much money as possible. Just because it is currently legal, that does not mean that the predatory behavior of the industry is moral.

The U.S. “healthcare system” accounts for nearly a fifth of our entire economy, and if it was a country it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.

But at this point it has become a great shame to the entire nation, and it needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt from scratch.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dreamand, The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.




Kekayaan Negara Dirompak RM60billion Dlm Tahun 2018 Sahaja Melalui Rasuah   


Bekas Presiden Transparency International, Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, berkata dianggarkan lebih RM60billion wang negara atau kekayaan negara telah disapu dan hilang hanya kerana rasuah pada tahun 2018.

Kata beliau:

Manakala, Datin Seri Wan Azizah berkata Malaysia kehilangan hampir RM47billion pada tahun 2017 (anggaran)

Jumlah ini adalah jumlah yg sangat besar. Jumlah yg menyebabkan negara Malaysia menuju kemiskininan. Jumlah yang menghambat Malaysia dari menjadi sebuah negara maju dan berdaya saing.

Negara2 yg maju semuanya amat peka dengan rasuah dan salah guna wang. Walaupun negara2 maju tiada sumber asli tapi oleh kerana mereka peka dgn rasuah, mereka mampu menjana ekonomi mereka seterusnya menjadi negara maju dan dihormati


Kekayaan yg hilang melalui rasuah sebenarnya memiskinkan bukan setakat kita tapi juga anak cucu kita. Pelbagai peluang ekonomi yg boleh diwujudkan sekarang terhalang hanya kerana rasuah.

Apabila berlaku rasuah anak cucu kita nanti yang akan merana dan dinafikan peluang mereka utk hidup selesa dan dihormati.


Dgn kehilangan wang sebegitu besar sebegini, akhirnya kita lihat rakyat umum semakin miskin dan tertekan. KAdar gaji tidak berubah manakala kos makin tinggi.

Ini semua warisan dari UMNO yg gagal mentadbir negara dengan baik.

UMNO sendiri menjadi sarang rasuah dimana semua peringkat UMNO dijangkiti rasuah.

Yg kaya dan mendapat laba melalui rasuah hanyalah pemimpin2 serta anak beranak mereka. Ahli2 UMNO biasa pun hanya dpt habuk.

Rakyat biasa mendapat kurang dari habuk.

PAS juga sudah makan rasuah di mana Presiden PAS sendiri didedahkan telah menerima rasuah dari UMNO.

Maka, kalau dinaikkan kembali PAS dan UMNO, maka kadar kehilangan wang akibat rasuah akan menjadi lebih teruk dan lebih sadis.


Wajib di atas setiap rakyat Malaysia menghalang UMNO dari kembali berkuasa demi memastikan masa depan anak cucu kita terjamin.



Artikel dari Whatsapp:

Kenapa selepas PH jadi kerajaan baru kita tahu perkara berikut? :

1) Khazanah
- Separuh kerugian Khazanah kerana 'Bail-out' MAS.
- MAS menyebabkan 6000 orang rakyat Malaysia hilang pekerjaan demi membela 2 orang CEO Mat Salleh.
- CEO Mat Salleh gadai laluan MAS kepada Emirates lepas tu dia resign keje dengan Emirates.
- Syarikat-syarikat GLC bawah Khazanah jugak gagal menyumbangkan keuntungan.

2) Felda
- Felda mempunyai hutang RM8 bilion hingga menjejaskan perancangan tanam semula.
- FGV yang merupakan IPO kedua terbesar di dunia gagal memberikan pulangan kepada Felda seperti yang 'dibawangkan'.
- FGV membeli ladang milik Peter Sondakh pada nilai yang lebih tinggi daripada market price. Disahkan oleh Jabatan Audit sendiri.
- Pelaburan FGV di luar negara tidak menguntungkan langsung.

3) Tabung Haji
- TH sejak 2014 lagi sepatutnya diisytiharkan rugi dan tidak boleh isytihar Hibah kerana nilai liabiliti melebihi nilai aset.
- Najib dan Azeez menyembunyikan kerugian TH dengan memanipulasikan nilai aset dan liabiliti TH tanpa mempedulikan Akta TH sendiri yang melarang sedemikian.
- TH turut diperalatkan oleh Najib dan kuncu-kuncunya untuk 'Bail-out' skandal 1MDB menerusi pembelian hartanah TRX.
- Lembaga Pengarah TH jugak dianggotai oleh Pengurusan 1MDB.

- Syarikat-syarikat GLC milik LTAT terlibat dalam pembelian AES pada harga tinggi.
- Dana LTAT jugak dikatakan dipergunakan untuk menutup skandal 1MDB.
- Menteri Pertahanan sendiri baru-baru ini mendedahkan pembinaan 2 kem tentera melibatkan GLC bawah LTAT hanya semata-mata untuk tambah pengundi UMNO.

- RM3 bilion duit KWAP hangus dipergunakan oleh 1MDB melibatkan urusniaga dengan IPIC.
- Sampai sekarang duit itu tidak diganti tetapi 'Money Trail' menunjukkan ianya disonglap oleh Jho Low - rakan Najib sendiri dalam 1MDB

- Pelaburan EPF di UK untuk projek Battersea tidak menguntungkan.
- EPF jugak kerugian dalam membeli IPO FGV
- Dana EPF jugak jadik modal Najib untuk 'membantu ekonomi US' semasa dia jumpa Trump.

- Pelaburan PNB jugak tidak begitu untung kerana ada GLC-GLCnya turut berkait dengan skandal 1MDB dan Felda.
- Masalah Sime Darby

Apa lagi kerugian yang disembunyikan oleh Najib umpama dia berak tapi suruh orang lain yang basuh? Kalau ikut semua pendedahan Najib sendiri dalam Twitternya, memang dia tahu hampir kesemua GLC yang diganggunya selama 9 tahun ini telah rugi/kurang untung tapi dia dan Cybertrooper UMNO cuba alihkan kesalahannya itu kepada Kerajaan PH..

Sebab itu zaman Najib dia berhutang dengan China dan perkenalkan GST untuk tampung duit yang dia memang tahu dah lesap.. Umpama dia longgarkan skru tayar keretanya yang akan dipandu oleh pemandu lain. tidak bertanggungjawab di atas setiap pandangan dan pendapat yang diutarakan melalui laman sosial dan halaman komen blog ini. Ia adalah pandangan peribadi pemilik akaun dan tidak semestinya menggambarkan pandangan dan pendirian blog ini

RM60 billion may have been lost to graft in 2018

Policemen loading a truck with items seized from Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur last year. The government’s stand in taking former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to court over abuses related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal is crucial in improving the country’s reputation. FILE PIC
By Veena Babulal - October 1, 2019 @ 12:30pm
KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA could have haemorrhaged RM60 billion of last year’s gross domestic product (GDP) value due to corruption.

Criminologist Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar drew this observation based on World Bank projections that graft hacks away two to four per cent of a country’s GDP on an annual basis.

“We are losing up to RM57.88 billion based on this calculation, but I estimate that we could be losing RM60 billion or even more due to unseen social costs and indirect graft that is difficult to quantify.”

The former Transparency International Malaysia president said he took the highest rate in the range given by the World Bank due to the magnitude of graft in Malaysia.

“And these estimates are conservative. We have so many unsolved high-profile cases of corruption and fraud in Malaysia.

“This year, the GDP is expected to grow between 4.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent. What then?” he said, adding that such estimates in graft stood in the nation’s way in its Shared Prosperity Vision.

Checks with relevant ministries found that RM1 billion could build 800 to 1,000 100-bed hospitals, 40 schools or four-lane roads stretching several kilometres.

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail revealed that the nation lost RM47 billion of its GDP value to corruption in 2017.

That amount was more than what the government spent on education and double the sum allocated for healthcare in the same year.

Transparency International Malaysia also said about four per cent of the GDP had been lost to corruption annually since 2013.

Economist Dr Hoo Ke Ping, meanwhile, offered another perspective on how funds have been lost due to graft.

He said corruption in Malaysia had been institutionally endemic since the 1970s, when the number of government agencies and government-linked companies expanded from about 30 entities back then to the thousands seen today.

He said this led to people being burdened as they endured negotiation and appointment practices that were open to abuse.

“The system of direct negotiations, concession agreements labelled under the Official Secrets Act 1972, as well as political patronage, cronyism, nepotism and unregulated political financing means that in the end consumer pays more.”

He said while this did not necessarily mean that the country’s coffers bled all the time, it was about consumers being directly affected due to corrupt practices.

Hoo cited the negotiations of highway deals, where rates and the durations of concessions were open to increases at the expense of the people.

“This is a form of graft. Toll fares can be increased by a few sen or ringgit that way.”

He said previously, independent power producers were also given higher subsidies and the burden was passed to consumers via increased tariffs.

Hoo, however, credited the government for reviewing some deals.

“Solar-powered electricity is now sold to Tenaga Nasional Bhd through an open tender system, which cost as low as 28 sen or 29 sen per unit following the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry’s intervention. Previously it was 30 sen or 40 sen.

“The government has to relook its previous and current policies and practices, and carry out changes.”

Sunway University Business School economics professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng said there was no way for Malaysia to achieve its Shared Prosperity Vision goals without corruption being kept at a minimum.

He said rampant graft would lead to resources being diverted or transferred out of the country, depleting the nation’s coffers.

“Graft causes leakages, wastage and diversion of resources, as well as higher costs, and this will be passed on to consumers.

“The worst is when practices, such as the awarding of contracts and public investment, affect businesses that are clean and efficient.

“The end result will be the erosion of investor confidence, outflow of capital and reduced investments because companies are forced to offer bribes to get clearance or favours.”

Yeah said when the costs were passed on to the consumer, the products would be less competitive and it would affect their bottom-line.

He said in the past, there were instances when Malaysia’s attractiveness to investors, ranking in corruption and ease of doing business took a hit because of graft.

He said this changed when Pakatan Harapan took over the government.

“PH has demonstrated its commitment to end corruption and it is manifested in the country’s improved ranking in the anti-corruption index.”

He said the government’s stand in taking former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to court over abuses related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal was crucial in improving the country’s reputation.

Malaysia’s attractiveness to investors was climbing as a result of this, he added.

He commended the government for coming up with the soon-to-be enforced Section 17(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

The clause on corporate liability will see companies being fined no less than 10 times the value of the gratification, or RM1 million, whichever is higher, or be subjected to a prison term not exceeding 20 years, or both, when the law comes into effect in June 2020.

Section 17A(3) also provides that if the offence is committed by a commercial organisation, the director, controller, officer, partner and persons managing its affairs at the time of the offence is deemed to have committed the offence of failing to prevent corruption.

These individuals will then need to prove that the offence was committed without his consent or connivance and that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.


New Policy Brief on NGDPLT   


I have a new policy brief out on NGDP level targeting. The article summarizes in an accessible manner the key arguments for NGDP level targeting while also addressing the main concerns of this approach. The policy brief also shows how one could implement a NGDP level target in practice. The article comes out now as part of the conversation the Fed is having this year in its review of monetary policy. Please check it out

Related Links


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The IMF's new chief unveils data showing trade conflicts could wipe out $700 billion in global GDP by 2020   


European Budget and Human Resources Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva holds a news conference after a meeting of the EU executive body in Brussels, Belgium, July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

As Kristalina Georgieva prepared to take over the reins of the International Monetary Fund, the new managing director took a moment to issue a stark warning about the global economy. 

Georgieva gave her inaugural speech on Tuesday after assuming the role of managing director on October 1 following Christine Lagarde's departure early this year to run the European Central Bank. 

The new IMF chief warned the global economy is facing a "synchronized slowdown" amid mounting trade tensions that could wipe out as much $700 billion in global GDP output by 2020. Much of the slowdown would come from negative market reactions and waning business confidence, she added. 

"In 2019, we expect slower growth in nearly 90 percent of the world," Georgieva said during her speech on Tuesday. "The global economy is now in a synchronized slowdown."

She continued: "This widespread deceleration means that growth this year will fall to its lowest rate since the beginning of the decade." 

The IMF's projection includes President Donald Trump's planned tariff hike on another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. 

The comments came as US stocks experienced a sharp sell-off on Tuesday following escalating tensions between the US and China. The White House is reportedly considering limits on US investment into China and the Commerce Deparment added 28 Chinese entities to its export ban list on Monday. 

Georgieva said countries need to discuss legitimate trade issues such as subsidies, intellectual property rights, and technology transfer. 

"Everyone loses in a trade war," She added.

Read more: The world's most accurate economic forecaster sees a 'prolonged global slowdown' on the horizon — and warns it can only be narrowly avoided

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack and Flickr, says 2 beliefs have brought him the greatest success in life


Reserve Bank of Australia   

Investment now nudging one percent of GDP.

It was just one graph, but it said it all.

Prices paid by businesses for software in Australia might be falling, but enterprises down under are spending money at close to dotcom levels on code – only this time it's to optimise their operations rather than chasing a meme.

That’s the take from one of the most remarkable snapshots of local investment in software yet, produced not by an analyst firm or vendor, but the by the Assistant Governor for the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Economic division, Dr Luci Ellis.

It’s a highly significant number, not least because it (partially) documents the broader role of computing in the national economy.

In fact, software investment levels in Australia are now primed to punch through one percent of nominal GDP (gross domestic product) that stands at $19 trillion.

And in case you wondered where the skills shortage came from, the software cut of that pie is easy to measure and equates to (roughly) $19 billion.

It's a a sustained trend that, over the last ten years or so, shows more local money is broadly and consistently being poured into software smarts – and as a core part of the economy rather than because of a sugar hit or cyclical factor.

Based on RBA and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, Ellis bowled-up the chart and stats – Computer Software Investment; Share of Nominal GDP – in a speech last Friday that sought to demystify how the central bank sources, charts and uses data to make economic predictions.

Notably, the chart (below) isn’t part of a regular series, but was put together specifically to illustrate what to factor in or out when trying to determine what indicators to use when plotting where the economy is headed.

In the past that might have been new car sales, spend on industrial plant and equipment, retail turnover … but now it’s software, at least for the purposes of Ellis’ speech, memorably titled “Lumps, Bumps and Waves”.

She's not afraid to chunk down the concepts or simplify the lingo either.

“Simple, non-technical descriptions can show why it's useful to know something about the underlying shape of a particular special factor. If something is a lump or a bump, it doesn't mark the beginning of a change in trend. Its effect may not last,” Ellis observed.

“In developing our forecasts or setting monetary policy, we might want to look through those lumps and bumps, and focus instead on the longer-term trends.”

Even more simply, it's "the signal in the noise".

"We have to be careful to avoid seeing paradigm shifts in every wiggle in the data. But structural change permeates the economy, and always will," Ellis said.

But these days software spend isn’t just a business trend, it’s a broader wave of change triggered by factors external to the economy,

Ellis notes there are a few ‘bumps’ on the chart “culminating in a peak around the dot-com boom and Y2K rectification work” where it peaks at just over one percent of nominal GDP in the very early noughties before taking a very unceremonious slide until around year before the GFC.

Then, around 2012-2013, software investment takes off like a rocket – Amazon Web Services put its first DC on Australian soil in 2012 – before near vertical growth gently tapers but still stays strong.

“More recently, this type of investment has again been increasing faster than the economy as a whole, as firms adopt mobile, cloud and other new technologies,” Ellis observes.

The thing to remember is that the graph is tracking software investment across the economy rather than just against previous sales, revenue or pricing.

So even if software, especially cloud and SaaS, fell in price compared to on-prem, it became more accessible and affordable, presumably at the expense of hardware.

There’s good reason for RBA to be sticking its nose into Australia’s software sector too.

Not least because things once loosely categorised as ‘digital’ are now influencing the shape of the broader economy, and with it the outlook for jobs and growth.

Australia’s conundrum is that wages growth has remained stuck and some parts of the economy are doing far better on the digital front than others.

The influence of software and technology on the economy, or the so-called tech effect, was called out by RBA Governor Philip Lowe in June 2018.

The picture Lowe painted at that time was a paradox where there was still spare capacity in the labour market, yet firms found it harder to get suitable workers, with little or no translation to increases wages.

Ellis’ chart is the latest valuable piece in figuring out that puzzle.

Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here.


Market - The IMF's new chief unveils data showing trade conflicts could wipe out $700 billion in global GDP by 2020   

Kristalina Georgieva, the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund, issued a warning on Tuesday about the impact of trade conflicts on the global...

The 15 Best Recession-Resistant Stocks to Buy   


There's little question as to what makes the most recession-resistant stocks to buy so resilient. Many of them offer products that Americans simply can't go without, or that are much more attractive when money is tight.

What's less certain is when investors will need these companies.

The man who predicted the dot-com crash of 2000 and the housing crisis that led to the most recent recession believes the odds of a 2020 recession are less than 50%. "Whether it's coming next year, I can't be sure," Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told the Financial News on Sept. 9.

However, a National Association for Business Economics survey found that while economists are modelling a 20% chance of recession by mid-2020, they put the odds at 69% by mid-2021. They also widely see GDP growth slowing from 2.9% in 2018 to 2.3% this year, then to just 1.8% in 2020.

Some are even more pessimistic. Also in September, Jeffrey Gundlach - CEO and founder of DoubleLine Capital LP, a Los Angeles-based investment firm with $140 billion in assets under management - said he believes there's a 75% chance of a recession before the 2020 presidential election.

Here are 15 top recession-resistant stocks to buy if you want to get ahead of the risk. Among the things you should know about recessions: The organization in charge of actually determining whether a recession has occurred typically needs six months to do so. Investors won't know it's happening until it has been underway for quite some time. So if you're looking to protect your portfolio against this risk, you'll want to lean toward being early rather than late.

SEE ALSO: 20 Dividend Stocks to Fund 20 Years of Retirement


UK debt to increase to record level if no-deal Brexit   


London: A no-deal Brexit, even in a "relatively benign scenario" may push the UK's debt to its highest levels since the late 1960s, according to an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The think-tank estimated the UK's debt could rise to 100 billion pounds, bringing the country's total debt close to 90 per cent of GDP for the first time in more than 50 years, reports Efe news.

The UK - with a current debt of around 85.3 per cent of GDP - plans to leave the European Union (EU) on October 31, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson determined to exit on this date even if no deal was reached.

IFS Director Paul Johnson pointed out that there is an "extraordinary level of uncertainty" and the country's economy and public finances face many risks in the wake of Brexit.

The IFS said that a no-deal Brexit could temporarily halt all economic growth for two years, even with "substantial" government spending.

The think-tank projected that an increase in public spending in 2020 may be followed by an economic downturn as the government would have to face the consequences of a smaller economy with a larger debt.

Johnson said that it would be "crucial" for government spending programmes to be temporary, while experts have pointed out that the British economy has already reduced by around 60 billion pounds since the country voted exit the EU in June 2016.

On October 4 a set of documents submitted to a Scottish court revealed that the UK would seek an extension if no deal was reached.


Rupee tops 71 per dollar as RBI lowers growth forecast   


Mumbai: Domestic currency depreciated 13 paise to fall below the physiological mark of 71 a dollar on Monday.

This comes after the Reserve Bank of India sharply lowered its FY20 growth forecast from 6.9 per cent earlier to 6.1 per cent.

However, RBI expects 2QFY20 GDP growth at 5.3 per cent and it forecasts sharp revival to 6.9 per cent in 2HFY20.

The Indian rupee closed at Rs 70.89 a US dollar on Friday after RBI slashed the repo rate by another 25 basis points.

In a unanimous decision, RBI cut its repo rate by 25 bps to 5.15 per cent, taking cumulative cut to 135 bps for CY19 to support growth. Monetary policy stance was maintained as "accommodative".

Meanwhile, Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) sold Rs 2,792.21 crore in October as yet and the benchmark Sensex has ended lower for the last five sessions.




The Deep State

From the time of the campaign all the way until now, the president has been under repeated attacks from elements of America’s intelligence agencies, including the CIA and FBI. Many of the people, like Brennan, Clapper, Comey, McCabe, and Strzok, have been removed. But there are still many more who have not been identified and “weeded out.”

The president has appointed various people he was told would clean house. Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, an old friend of mine, was named director of national intelligence. But he quickly became a mouthpiece for the agency he was running rather than a reformer of the agency. Thanks for nothing, Dan.

Early in his administration, a CIA official resigned and wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post lambasting the president. He was promptly hired to be a commentator for NBC News. More recently, an intelligence analyst at the State Department used his resignation to make a big splash in the news.

The current controversy reportedly originated with an employee at the CIA. The current head of the CIA is Gina Haspel, a career officer and the first woman to lead the CIA.

The president was told, and we were all told, that she was the ultimate professional who would not tolerate any nonsense. Clearly, she needs to call in all agency supervisors and review the rules regarding their involvement in partisan politics.

It is worth remembering that even before the inauguration, then President-elect Trump was expressing his frustration with the intelligence community. At the time, Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer bragged to Rachel Maddow, “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

If this abuse of our intelligence agencies cannot be ended, then the globalists have won and we have lost the country. I pray and still believe that is not true. But the jury is still out.



Why Cats Pay a Lower Price for CAT Scans

Once a year, I bring my ill-tempered three-legged tabby cat (named Hopper) to the veterinarian. No one ever has a good time or particularly enjoys the cacophony of hisses, growls, and whiny meows. All the same, I can’t help but feel an “Alice in Wonderland” sort of feeling while talking to my feline’s healthcare providers. Most procedures and medical tests for our furry friends are the same as ours. But unlike the human healthcare system, prices are transparent and upfront in pet care. While no one likes hearing that Fifi’s surgery will cost $600, having costs out in the open keeps prices tethered to reality and under control. Lawmakers can throw patients everywhere a (figurative) bone by opening healthcare markets to competition and encouraging price transparency.

When most owners bring their furry nincompoops to the veterinarian, insurance simply isn’t a part of the conversation because nearly 2 million cats and dogs are covered by insurance policies in the U.S., compared to more than 180 million cats and dogs owned in total.

Compare this less-than-2 percent coverage rate for our pets to the predominance of human health insurance. Around 90 percent of Americans have health insurance, with most plans covering at least some routine doctors’ visits and predictable expenses such as medications. Americans pay even less money out-of-pocket for medical care (as a percentage of expenditures) than most of their Canadian and European (i.e. Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden) counterparts.

When the government and/or insurers are footing the bill, providers have little reason to disclose prices. Patients asking a doctor’s office or hospital for the price of, say, a CAT scan or an appendectomy will probably be stonewalled. With no price transparency and other people paying the bills, costs skyrocket out of control and healthcare expenditures climb far in excess of the rate of inflation. From 2008 to 2018, healthcare prices in the U.S. climbed 21.6 percent while prices for goods and services overall grew by 17.3 percent (measured by GDP deflator).

But not so in the pet healthcare sector, where consumers are exposed to price and veterinarians have a real incentive to keep costs low. Because pet insurance accounts for such a tiny sliver of the veterinary healthcare market, the prices that they pay for claims reflects prices that consumers are willing to pay rather than the third-party driven “prices” of the human healthcare market. For the past several years, Nationwide’s pet health insurance division has partnered with Purdue University researchers to track trends in pet insurance payouts. The researchers track a “basket” of the most commonly-utilized procedures to see how the typical veterinary visit has changed in price over time. According to their research, these ordinary expenses declined by 6 percent from January 2009 to December 2017 after adjusting for inflation.

This decrease is corroborated by less reliable sources, such as the American Pet Products Association (APPA) annual consumer spending surveys. For virtually every year tracked (accessible via web archive), cat and dog owners reported spending less money on average routine and surgical visits. The data is jumpier than the Nationwide and Purdue rigorous analysis of 30 million insurance claims but confirms an interesting – and counterintuitive – trend.  In a system where consumers and patients’ “representatives” have enough skin in the game, healthcare prices behave like they would in most other markets.

There are, of course, differences between pet and human healthcare. Owners are far less likely to spend money treating Fluffy for cancer than they would for their own chemotherapy treatments. All the same, prices continue to decline in real terms as a rapidly growing percentage of pet owners regard their companions as members of the family and worthy of medical care. As these numbers increase further, policymakers should take notice and keep tabs on price trends. Perhaps increasing consumer exposure to prices and empowering them to pay medical expenses directly via Health Savings Accounts would lead to the same declining prices seen in the veterinary world.

I’m not sure what medical surprises await Hopper in the next few years, but prices are all but guaranteed to come up for discussion in future vet visits. This norm may be unpleasant, but it sure seems to keep costs under control. Humans and their pets can benefit from a price structure that encourages competition and cost control.



Enough with Existential Crises


I think we can trace most of modern American society's ills back to when men decided to start hugging. OK, a lot of it can go back to when women began watching football too, but I'll try to maintain some focus here.

I remember the first time I got a man hug and I wasn't at a funeral, which used to be the only events at which they were acceptable. I knew that some sort of testosterone-based Pandora's box had been opened.

The next thing I knew, everyone had feelings and the Super Bowl became less about football and more about making the womenfolk happy with seven-hour-long halftime concerts.

Now I hug a lot, but only because people don't expect it from me and I know it makes them uncomfortable.

Back in 2015 and 2016 when I was -- to put very mildly -- a Trump skeptic, I did keep telling people that I didn't think he posed an existential threat to the Republic. I'm a grown-up who has been through too many false apocalyptic political narratives to fall for them anymore.

In yesterday's Briefing, we looked at the first installment of a full-court press by the media to woo Republicans to getting behind impeachment. The plea was a predictable one: Trump must be removed from office or the country that survived a civil war, the Soviet Union, and the heresy of New Coke will cease to exist.

That press picked up speed on Monday, with various "save the country" pleas to Republicans -- specifically GOP senators -- to save the country.

When they're not making their prom pitches to Republicans with grandiose visions of saving the country, the MSM and Democrats are concern trolling for the future of the GOP.

Jeff Flake -- my least favorite former senator -- wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post that worried about Republicans' "souls."

Nobody's soul is at stake, especially the GOP's.

The future of the United States is most certainly not in danger because of anything the president is doing. The hysteria is more boring than agitation-inducing at this point.

Look around you. The world isn't ending. The United States isn't in its death throes. The baseball season is ending and that is sad, but we can work through it.

I'm dismissive of my political opponents these days because they're more in need of diapers than careful consideration of their opinions.

My good friend, Ricochet Editor-In-Chief Jon Gabriel, summed it up rather nicely on Monday:

Impeachment has been the left’s goal since December 2016 — before Trump took office. Ukraine is just another bite of the apple after the Mueller report failed so spectacularly.
The media hysteria over Ukraine feels a lot like the recent Greta hysteria. There’s no time to absorb facts, discuss options, or weigh pros and cons. We need to act now or else!

Hysteria is a poor strategy. It didn’t work for climate change or Kavanaugh or the many other panics we’ve been subjected to since Trump took office. How Trump’s detractors think this will end well is beyond me.

That's just it: they don't think. They feel. When that's all you do, everything is the end of the world.

And when everything is the apocalypse, nothing is the apocalypse.



Feds paid $1 billion in Social Security benefits to individuals without a SSN

The Social Security Administration paid $1 billion in benefits to individuals who did not have a Social Security Number (SSN), according to a new audit.

The agency’s inspector general found errors in the government’s documentation for representative payees, otherwise known as individuals who receive retirement or disability payments on behalf of another person who is incapable of managing the benefits themselves.

The audit released Friday found thousands of cases where there was no SSN on file.

Over the last decade, the agency paid $1 billion to 22,426 representative payees who "did not have an SSN, and SSA had not followed its policy to retain the paper application."

“Furthermore, unless it takes corrective action, we estimate SSA will pay about $182.5 million in benefits, annually, to representative payees who do not have an SSN or paper application supporting their selection,” the inspector general said.

The inspector general also found the agency paid $853.1 million in benefits since 2004 to individuals who had been terminated as representative payees by the agency.



Impeachment Coup and Civil War?

Donald Trump shared a warning from Pastor Robert Jeffress about a "Civil War-like fracture" given that Democrats are, again, undertaking what has all the markings of a coup d'état to remove him from office. The point was to assert that using deep-state operatives to overthrow a presidency is tantamount to insurrection.

Jeffress said, "Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats can't put down the impeachment match. They know they couldn't beat [Trump] in 2016 against Hillary Clinton, and they're increasingly aware of the fact that they won't win against him in 2020, and impeachment is the only tool they have to get rid of Donald Trump. And the Democrats don't care if they burn down and destroy this nation in the process."

In fact, he continued, "I don't pretend to speak for all Evangelicals, but this week I have been traveling the country and I've literally spoken to thousands and thousands of evangelical Christians. I have never seen them more angry over any issue than this attempt to illegitimately remove this president from office — overturn the 2016 election and negate the votes of millions of evangelicals in the process. And they know that the only impeachable offense President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. That's the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him." Jeffress predicted, "If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I'm afraid it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal."

Democrats have only two things to offer in 2020: socialist redistribution of wealth by way of an endless list of "free" stuff in return for votes, and impeachment to appeal for votes from those suffering severe Trump Derangement Syndrome. And, on top of that, they are openly proposing to confiscate guns. Unfortunately, these combined threats to Liberty make the reference to "civil war" relevant.



Australia Foreign Minister says helping White House probe in national interest

Australia’s offer to help U.S. President Donald Trump investigate a report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was in the national interest, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Wednesday.

The New York Times on Monday reported Trump had asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help investigating the origins of what became Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to aid Trump in the 2016 national elections.

A spokesperson for Morrison on Tuesday said the prime minister had agreed to help, drawing criticism from Australia’s opposition Labor party.

But Payne said cooperating with Australia’s closest ally was prudent. “We are working in Australia’s interests and we are working with our closest and most important ally,” Payne told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We should assist them as we can, we should ensure that assistance is appropriate and that’s what we’re doing.”

Trump is under mounting pressure amid an impeachment investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives into reports that he sought to influence foreign governments to go after his political adversaries.

The Democratic-led House began the inquiry last week after a whistleblower raised concerns that Trump tried to leverage nearly $400 million in proposed aid for Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in the 2020 election.

The Mueller report was triggered in part by former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Downer was allegedly told in 2016 by George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide, that Russia had damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Downer reported the details of the conversation, which Papadopoulos denies, to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.




GIULIANI SUBPOENAED: "Democrats on Monday subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer who was at the heart of Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden's family. ... With Congress out of session for observance of the Jewish holidays, Democrats moved aggressively against Giuliani, requesting by Oct. 15 'text messages, phone records and other communications' that they referred to as possible evidence. They also requested documents and depositions from three of his business associates." (Associated Press)

HONG KONG BATTLEFIELD: "Hong Kong police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at pro-democracy protesters throwing petrol bombs in the Asian financial hub on Tuesday as its Chinese rulers celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. ... The South China Morning Post and television reports said at least one person was wounded in the chest by police firing live rounds." (Reuters)

MANUFACTURING CONTRACTION CONTINUES: "A gauge of U.S. manufacturing slumped to the lowest level in more than 10 years in September as exports dived amid the escalated trade war. The U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index from the Institute for Supply Management plunged to 47.8% in September, the lowest since June 2009, marking the second consecutive month of contraction. Any figure below 50% signals a contraction." (CNBC)


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The Founders Warned Us About Central Banking   

The Founders Warned Us About Central Banking

Authored by South Carolina state Rep. Stewart Jones via,

The Federal Reserve just lowered interest rates for the second time this year and announced more quantitative easing by injecting even more US dollars into the market. The days of cheap money will soon come to an end, and I fear that many people won’t realize what’s happening until the rug is pulled out from under them.

As economist Henry Hazlitt wrote, the practices of the Fed distort the real-world market indicators of cost, future prices, investments and production. A recent study from the National Association for Business Economics showed that 72% of economists now predict that a recession will occur between 2020 and the end of 2021. Some have even warned that the US is on the brink of the biggest bubble in world history — not just a correction of a business cycle or another recession, but a complete collapse of the US dollar.

Yet the dangers of centralized banking are not new knowledge. For centuries, people — including many of our founding fathers — have tried to warn us of the numerous threats posed by institutions like the Federal Reserve.

Today, it’s understood by many that the recklessness of the Fed allowed for the subprime mortgages that caused the Great Recession of 2008. With over $22 trillion in debt, $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and, soon, an all-time high debt-to-GDP ratio (comparable to World War II levels), however, it’s not overstating it to say that the Fed-facilitated out-of-control federal government spending constitutes the greatest threat to the American way of life in history.

To understand the full extent of the debt and the destruction of the dollar, it’s essential to realize that paper money has a history of being printed as bills of credit to finance runaway government. In 1775, the founders attempted to use paper money without gold or silver backing, and they found that the inflation robbed them of any value.

In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

Paper is poverty. It is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.”

The Coinage Act of 1792 then set specific ratios for gold and silver coinage, placing gold and silver in control rather than a central bank. This lasted until the passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which allowed for the formation of the Federal Reserve System just two decades before Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt started to come after private ownership of gold and silver in the 1930s. In 1944, the Bretton Woods system made the US dollar the reserve currency of the world, when it was still partially backed by gold and silver.

Finally, in 1971, the Nixon Administration suspended wages, issued price controls, and canceled dollar-to-gold convertibility, completing the final step in ending the “gold standard.” This gave the central government planners — and the federal reserve — the power to print money without restraint. This is how the national debt has been able to reach the levels that it has. The only thing backing the US dollar today is public debt.

Remember when Coke was a nickel? In 1913 (the year the Fed was founded) a bottle of Coke cost five cents. Today, a bottle of Coca-Cola costs an average of $1.79. While there are many factors (like supply and demand, cost of goods, etc.) that help set prices, inflation plays a critical part. At an average inflation rate of 3.12% annually, inflation alone accounts for $1.30 of the actual cost of Coke.

The addition of more US dollars doesn’t mean that anyone is more wealthy; in fact, it means that the dollars you have are worthless. You will need a higher amount of dollars to buy the same goods and services. Hence, saving inflated dollars, in many cases, is losing value. Those who save money are being robbed.

With the continued decline of the dollar, there could also be hyperinflation on an unprecedented scale. Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson warned that “the greatest threat to be feared” was the “public curse” of “public debt”, and that “banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.” The founding fathers understood the dangers of centralized manipulation of the money supply, the hidden taxation of inflation, and the control of buying power.

They understood that gold and silver are real money.

Furthermore, if we look at the history of money, we can see that precious metals, mainly gold and silver, have been used for coinage for over 2600 years; in one way or another, gold and silver have been used by people for over 6.000 years.

American revolutionary leader Christopher Gadsden said in September 1764:

The evils attending a wanton exercise of power, in some of the colonies, by issuing a redundancy of paper currency, has always been avoided by this province, by a proper attention to the dangerous consequences of such a practice, and the fatal influence it must have upon public credit.”

People across the US should heed his warnings by allowing gold and silver to be used as legal tender once again. Some states like Utah have done just that. While this won’t stop the Federal Reserve’s destruction of the dollar, it will allow people to convert dollars to sound money before a collapse. Sound money, like gold and silver, acts as a check and balance on big government, a hedge against inflation, and a way to combat manipulation by the Fed.

This is exactly why, in my home state, I will soon be filing the “2020 South Carolina Sound Money Bill,” allowing South Carolinians to use gold and silver as legal tender. I will also introduce legislation to exempt gold and silver from capital gains tax, both of which are already exempt from sales tax in South Carolina. We the People can restore sound money by using the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution.

It is my hope that, with the success of these bills, other policymakers elsewhere will become inspired to lead by example on this vital issue as well. The key to protecting the American way of life from the federal reserve’s obliteration of our currency rests with the legislatures, but we must heed the lessons of history now.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/08/2019 - 18:45

Boston's Commercial Real-Estate Market Hints At Looming Recession    

Boston's Commercial Real-Estate Market Hints At Looming Recession

As commercial real-estate markets in the world's hottest urban centers wobbled following the collapse of the WeWork IPO, the city of Boston flashed a particularly alarming warning.

According to Bloomberg, as the price per square foot for office space in Boston's trendiest neighborhoods nears levels last seen during the dot-com boom, the city's commercial real-estate market experienced a seemingly minor hiccup with dark connotations. For the first time since the financial crisis, commercial tenants cut back on office and lab space in Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding suburbs, according to Aaron Jodka, the lead researcher at Colliers International Group Inc.'s Boston office.

A QoQ decline in rented commercial office space across all three markets has typically only happened during recessions or the run-up to a recession.

"I don’t think a decline in any of the markets individually would be surprising - the surprise was all three together," Jodka said. "It’s a potential red flag for the top of the real estate market in Boston."

Talk of a coming economic slowdown in the US, as economic data suggest that the divergence between the US economy and ROW might finally be running out of steam, has intensified lately, with many of the biggest banks forecasting an imminent recession over the next 12 months.

As BBG pointed out, even Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren is forecasting an imminent slowdown, anticipating GDP growth of just 1.7% during the second half of 2019 as the trade war and a slowing job market bite.

While Boston's commercial real-estate market is still in the middle of what could be described as boom times, it's possible that the market could be about to enter a serious glut.

For example, Boston has 7 million square feet of office construction in the pipeline from 2021 to 2023, the most for a three-year period since the late 1980s.

Commercial rents in Boston's priciest neighborhoods have already hit $100 per square foot, tied with the peaks from previous cycles.

Of course, with its bustling roads, crowded hotels and booming financial and tech industries, some might find it hard to imagine Boston as a harbinger of recession. After all, the city's unemployment rate is below 3%, one of the lowest in the region. And if business contracts, Boston always has academia and health-care to fall back on.

But it's a mistake to imagine that Boston is immune. And already, landlords have been battling to woo tenants with perks like fancy private employee clubs with craft beer on tap, gyms and private showers. For an idea of just how quickly things can turn around, after the last bust in 2000, Boston's office vacancy rate jumped 13.5 percentage points. After the financial crisis, it jumped 7.7 percentage points.

In fact, Boston and the rest of the American economy could already be caught in the early stages of the downturn.

"Recessions have a tendency to be identified after the fact," Jodka said. "Could it be that we will look back on this quarter as the start of a larger slowdown, or recession?"

And while companies typically wait until after a downturn has started to start cutting headcount, as one analyst pointed out, these are not normal times.

"The environment is filled with so many unique circumstances, from trade wars to impeachment," Langbaum said. "That might make this time different."

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/08/2019 - 18:25

Az új IMF vezér globális lassulástól tart    

700 milliárd dollárral csökkenhet a globális GDP a kereskedelmi konfliktusok miatt az IMF vezérigazgatója szerint. 
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