Please Don’t Pop My Bubble!

One person’s bubble is another person’s “fair market value.” What is clearly an outrageously overvalued asset perched at nosebleed levels of central-bank fueled speculative euphoria is to the owner an asset at “fair market value.”

But beneath the euphoric confidence that valuations can only drift higher forever and ever is the latent fear that something could stick a pin in “my bubble”— that is, whatever bubblicious asset we happen to own and treasure as a source of our financial wealth could be popped, destroying not just our financial bubble but our psychological bubble of faith in permanent manias.

Consider housing prices, which are clearly in an echo-bubble of the Great Housing Bubble of 2000-2007. (Chart courtesy of Market Daily Briefing.)

The psychological underpinning of all bubbles and echo bubbles is on display here. In the first bubble, those benefiting from the stupendous price increases are not just euphoric at the surge in unearned wealth–they believe the hype with all their hearts and minds that the bubble is not a bubble at all, it’s all just “fair market value” at work.

In other words, the massive increase in unearned personal wealth is not just temporary good fortune–it is permanent, rational and deserved.

Alas, all bubbles, no matter how euphoric or long-lasting, eventually pop. All the certainties that seemed so obviously true and timeless to the believers melt into air, and their touching faith that the bubble valuations were permanent, rational and deserved dissipates in a wrenchingly painful reconciliation with reality.
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U.N.’s Legal Expert Calls Proposed Trade Deals Illegal

Eric Zuesse

Alfred de Zayas, the U.N.’s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, is assigned the task to apply the standards of international law to proposed treaties, to determine whether they’re in accord with international law. On Friday, June 24th, he issued his finding on three large proposed treaties regarding international trade among Atlantic countries: TTIP, TISA, and CETA. Earlier, on February 2nd, he had issued a similar finding on the proposed TPP treaty between Pacific countries, and his conclusion there was the same: that the proposed treaty violates international laws, and is inconsistent with democracy. 

His finding regarding the proposed Atlantic treaties condemned them by saying: “Trade deals prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer associations, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliaments, have zero democratic legitimacy.” This describes all of U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed treaties on trade: TPP, TTIP, and TISA, and it also includes CETA, which is the proposed treaty between the EU and Canada.

He further damningly noted that, “Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to peoples’ voice.”

The U.N.’s press release, on June 24th, from its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), especially notes:

An earlier consultation conducted by the European Commission in 2014 resulted in 97% of respondents from across Europe expressing opposition to the inclusion of asymmetrical investment protection in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. “The same would apply to CETA, but no consultation was ever held,” he noted. 

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The Calm Stroll to Independence

By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.

Scottish nationals have two supra-national citizenships. One is UK citizenship, the second is EU citizenship. In democratic referenda over the past two years, Scots have voted clearly to retain both citizenships.

Unfortunately it is not possible to respect both democratic decisions of the Scottish people, due to a vote by other nationalities. So where you have democratic decisions which cannot both be implemented, which does democracy demand should take precedence?

It is not a simple question. The vote to retain EU citizenship was more recent and carried a much larger majority than the earlier vote. In addition it was made crystal clear during the campaign that it may require the overturning of the earlier vote. So on these grounds I believe the most recent vote must, as an exercise in democracy, have precedence.

In these circumstances the announcement by the First Minister that she is initiating the procedure on a new referendum for Scottish independence from the UK, in order to retain Scottish membership of the EU, is a sensible step.

But I believe there is another step she should take. The democratic conflict of decisions brings about a conflict of interests between the institutions to which Scotland elects national representatives.

To resolve this requires a supplementing of current constitutional arrangements. The First Minister should therefore convene a National Convention consisting of all Scotland’s elected national representatives – its MEPs, MPs and MSPs united in a single democratic body merged on a one member one vote basis.

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Brexit: Brits Lead Anti-Establishment Rebellion in European Departure

By David Haggith, the Great Recession Blog.

Brexit Flag

Regardless of the extent to which global fear mongers are right about the economic catastrophe that will hit every shore of the world after the Brexit, the most significant fact of the Brexit will be that the UK was the first nation to start the inevitable break-up of the EU. I have said since its beginning it cannot and will not hold together.

The Brexit vote is clearly the most massive anti-establishment groundswell in decades. We can thank the Brits for having a stiffer upper lip than the Greeks when it comes to risking the pain that will come from this life-changing, nation-changing international divorce. And, of course, there will be pain and lots of it from such a major but vital course correction, just as there will be a lot of pain when the entire global economy meets its inevitable collapse.

Already, that pain is arriving in torrents around the world, just as the rain poured down on England on Brexit voting day, so it is not as if the fear mongers were wrong. One has to expect that a section of the European continent falling off politically will create tsunamis.

Pain of the Brexit already felt everywhere

One of the biggest fears is that Brexit will create waves of similar break-offs from the already deeply fractured Europe. And overnight the run-up of market crashes on foreign shores looks a lot like 2008. Before the day began in most of the US, Bloomberg reported the following list of major tidal changes around the world: (Here’s an abridged version.)

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The War on Weed Is Winding Down – But Will Monsanto Be the Winner?

By Ellen Brown, EllenBrown.com.

The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016.

The presidential candidates are generally in favor of relaxing the law. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing the plant, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. Hillary Clinton would not go that far but would drop cannabis from a Schedule I drug (a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse) to Schedule II (a deadly dangerous drug with medical use and high potential for abuse). Republican candidate Donald Trump says we are losing badly in the war on drugs, and that to win that war all drugs need to be legalized.
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Posted in Politics / World News | 8 Comments

Is THIS Why the British Pound Is Getting Decimated After Brexit?

The British economy has gone into the tank as part of the EU.

Economics professor Richard Werner (the inventor of Quantitative Easing) has shown that Brexit will not hurt the British economy.

So why is the pound getting pummeled right now?

Here’s a conspiracy theory …

What if the central banks are shorting the pound, to send a message to the other countries thinking of leaving the EU that their economies will be beaten up if they leave?

To be clear, this is just a hypothesis. I’m not saying that it’s true. 

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News | 5 Comments

Leading Antiwar Progressives Speak Favorably of Aspects of Trump’s Foreign Policy

by John V. Walsh (republished with permission of the author). 

Until recently the progressive mind has been resolutely closed and stubbornly frozen in place against all things Trump.

But cracks are appearing in the ice.  With increasing frequency over the last few months some of the most thoughtful left and progressive figures have begun to speak favorably of aspects of Trump’s foreign policy. Let us hear from these heretics, among them William Greider, Glen Ford, John Pilger, Jean Bricmont, Stephen F. Cohen and William Blum.  Their words are not to be construed as “endorsements,” but rather an acknowledgement of Trump’s anti-interventionist views, the impact those views are having and the alternative he poses to Hillary Clinton in the current electoral contest.

First let’s consider the estimable William Greider, a regular contributor to The Nation and author of Secrets of the Temple.  He titled a recent article for the Nation, “Donald Trump Could be The Military Industrial Complex’s Worst Nightmare: The Republican Front Runner is Against Nation Building.  Imagine That.”

Greider’s article is brief, and I recommend reading every precious word of it.  Here is but one quote: “Trump has, in his usual unvarnished manner, kicked open the door to an important and fundamental foreign-policy debate.” And here is a passage from Trump’s interview with the Washington Post:
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Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda | 3 Comments