From the USSR to the EU Read more >>>
Another US shale revolution is over? After gas rig count collapse shale gas production drops Read more >>>
Why the Italian government can’t resolve the problems of Mediterranean smuggling boats? Because it doesn’t want to Read more >>>
The nationalisation of Ukraine PrivatBank: how two oligarchs bankrupted a nation Read more >>>
“Russia did it” – the last stand of neoconservatism Read more >>>
When the so called communist system had crumbled in Eastern European countries, their respective societies embraced Western-style democracy and economy, which, taking into consideration the development gap between the two systems came as no surprise. What was stunning, however, was the fact that yesterday’s communists became today’s social-democrats; yesterday’s enemies of the West transpired as today’s ardent friends of the west; yesterday’s anti-liberal propagandists had no difficulty changing sides and becoming today’s pro-liberal propagandists; why, to top it all, yesterday’s Moscow’s footstools turned into the Kermlin’s fierce critics. It does not stand to reason that they (i) became capitalists overnight and that (ii) they converted to western values in droves.
The same people in a position of power who before 1989 would punish their compatriots for entertaining a mere thought of emigrating to the West or copying Western-style political or economic solutions; the same people at the helm who would not even ponder leaving the Warsaw Pact and joining NATO, arguing that geopolitics was such as to impediment any such attempts, the same people after 1989 came to laugh at the opponents of the European Union or NATO.
American dreams about energy independence may never come true. After a continuing decrease in the shale oil production, also the shale gas output has reached its peak and started to fall. As shale oil and gas make up half of the total United States oil and gas production and the rig count remains historically low, the American energy independence is shrinking and hopes for American LNG supply to Europe are disappearing into thin air. The US continues to be a net importer of energy resources and this is not going to change.
Dreams about the American energy autonomy are far from being abandoned, though. The shale revolution enthusiasm was shared even by top politicians, like Hillary Clinton, who claimed that the US had achieved energy independence, even if it was obviously not true.1)Hillary Clinton said America is energy independent. It is not, CNBC 2016-10-10 Gas autonomy seemed to be more achievable that of oil and 2016 was slated to be the first year when the US would export more gas than import.2)The New U.S. Energy Era Will Be a Gas, USNews 2016-05-16
The rule of law is often invoked by as a Western value that “populist” movements want to destroy, yet the establishment’s own governments have long suspended that very same rule of law when it comes to immigration. The most evident example of this is the immigration policy started by the Italian Letta government in 2013 and continued since then under the Renzi government.
In October 2013, the Letta government, facing waves of refugees escaping the chaos of Western backed-Arab Spring in Libya, which later transpired as nothing more than insurgencies of Islamic radical groups, launched the operation “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea”, which consisted in the use of the Italian navy near Libyan waters to rescue asylum seekers from the African coast.
On the morning of 19 December Ukrainians got up to learn about a momentous economic decision: the biggest Ukrainian bank, PrivatBank, had just been nationalised after its two owners used depositors’ money to build a business empire and distributed the money among Jewish organisations in Europe. Why did it have to happen?
A look into the past. PrivatBank used to be Ukraine’s largest bank with 20% of the banking sector and $53bn assets.1)UPDATE: Government nationalizes PrivatBank, guarantees deposits KyivPost 2016-12-18Its history is quite unusual for the country’s realities because it:
was one of the first private banks (formed in 1992);
was the first bank to introduce plastic cards and ATMs;
was the first Ukrainian financial institution to receive an international rating (Thomson BankWatch International Rating Agency, Fitch IBCA);
was the first Ukrainian bank to have opened its International Banking Unit in Cyprus in 1999;
introduced electronic banking in 2001;
received STP Excellence Award from Deutsche Bank in 2003.
In 1992, at the end of the Cold War, an American political scientist infamously proclaimed “the end of history:” liberal democracy and the capitalist system has won, the rest of the world will eventually embrace western ideas as superior to theirs because only they are able to provide peace and prosperity.
This line of reasoning has since become the West’s dogma in international relations, and so under the pretext of spreading human rights and parliamentary democracy all over the world the West perceives itself to be on a mission. For a while, it worked. Most of Eastern Europe readily embraced Western democracy and capitalism and even Russia seemed to follow.
A break-up of the eurozone due to the European Central Bank and its Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP) should not be treated like a science-fiction scenario. The more government bonds the ECB buys, the smaller becomes the problem of a country’s insolvency and debt conversion into French francs or Greek drachmas. Eventually, who cares if all the bonds are kept by the institution that cannot go bankrupt and that is out of the financial market?
Let us recall: the exclusion of Greece from the Euro Area was impossible in 2012 due to a large amount of Greek debt held by foreign banks, which were rescued by the ECB, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These institutions, called Troika, saved banks and private creditors, not the Greeks: 95% of the bailout money went to banks, as a study of the European School of Management and Technology proved.1)Study: Bailouts for Banks, Not Greeks, Source: Handelsblatt 2016-05-04
For two months, using marinetraffic.com, we have been monitoring the movements of ships owned by a couple of NGOs. Using data from data.unhcr.org., we have kept track of the daily arrivals of African immigrants in Italy. It turned out we were witness to a big scam and an illegal human traffic operation.
Replace freedom of speech with hate speech and you get rid of the former, basking on moral high ground of fighting the latter.
There was a time when people in the Eastern Bloc were forbidden to listen to Radio Free Europe, The Voice of America or any other western broadcaster on pain of, depending and country and period, severe or mild punishment. The mentioned radio stations were jammed most of the time, which was not the only countermeasure that was implemented: the government-controlled mass media would target selected news and in an attempt to spread “information literacy” raise the citizens’ awareness of the dangers of being exposed to hostile Western propaganda which, allegedly, went out of their way to create the impression of failed socialist states.
After what to many came down as an unexpected result of the British referendum, another one could further accelerate the implosion of the European Union, this time in Italy. December 4th the Italians will be voting on political reforms. Thanks to the law of unintended consequences, these changes will pave the way for a subsequent referendum where people might be asked to vote whether the country should return to the lira as its legal tender.
To understand why, we first have a look at the current political structure. The Italian parliament is made up of the Chamber of the Deputies (the lower house), and the Senate (an upper house), which are endowed with the same power. New legislation has to be approved by both chambers before it becomes law. Italy has about ten political parties, making it hard to create a coalition and form a government that gets the backing of a majority in both houses.
Germany in, France out? German preponderance in Central Europe and… in Western Europe as well? Revival of the Holy Roman Empire (Sacrum Imperium Romanum) with Sclavinia, Gallia, Roma, and Germania paying homage to the German emperor, nay, chancellor? A Forth Reich in the making?
Smoke was far from subsiding over the trenches of the battlefields of World War One when in 1916 a book was published. Its title was Mitteleuropa1)Friedrich Naumann, Mitteleuropa, Berlin 1916, available at Internet Archive, a non-profit library.and its author: Friedrich Naumann.2)Friedrich Naumann, Encyclopaedia Britannica. The war was about making a new deal between the superpowers at the turn of the 20th century: Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and England. A deal about re-assigning African and Asian colonies and a new order in Europe. At that time no one could know how the war would end: it was not generally assumed that Austria-Hungary would disappear from the political map or that Russia would drastically change its political system. It was rather taken for granted that the superpowers would have to make mutual concessions and that they could only expand at the cost of smaller nations. Where were they to be found? In Central Europe, from the Baltic down to the Mediterranean: Courland (present day Latvia), Lithuania, Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria to name a few.
The turmoil in the financial market was far from good news to President-Elect Donald Trump.
The 10-year Treasury yield was on pace for the largest 2-week rise since 2009. The crash in the bond market happened alongside a 10% devaluation of the Japanese yen.
The mainstream media presented the dumping of Treasury bonds as good news. Investors miraculously expected the US economy to boom and inflation to rise now that Donald Trump will be their president. The same media analysts that predicted two weeks ago that the financial world would collapse if Trump were elected are now convinced that Trump’s plan to increase spending and lower taxes will finance itself.
The great advantage brought by the common currency to Southern European economies that is often pointed up by supporters of the euro is the stability of the currency. It is often overlooked, however, that the impact that the euro and fixed exchange rates in general have had since its introduction was unfavourable. Italian and French economies have turned from net exporters to net importers whereas Spain, Portugal and Greece have amplified the magnitude of their trade deficit.