Fareed Zakaria GPS – CNN 10-11-15

Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • We cannot solve Afghanistan without recognizing Pakistani army support for the Taliban. No counter-insurgency has ever succeeded where the rebels have a safe haven, so until this is dealt with, the Taliban will never be defeated. Pakistan pretends to help the US while supporting its most deadly foes.
  • Pakistan is a time bomb. It has one of the world’s largest armies, the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. 5.5 million Pakistani children do not attend school. The US faces a strategic collapse as it withdraws forces from the region unless Pakistan’s military and its mindset are reformed.
  • Any US involvement in Syria has to be aimed at dislodging Assad from power, which would produce total chaos; viz. Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
  • Italy, France et al is the world’s greatest paradise: beautiful countries, amazingly rich, incredibly nice work rules, long vacations, ability to early retire. So why reform?
  • The Economist ranked the UK 1st out of 80 countries in the 2015 quality of death index, Taiwan 6th, the US 9th. Mongolia ranked 1st out of the low-income countries.
  • The US should abandon the outdated 9:00 to 5:00 work-week.
    • Henry Ford pioneered cutting back employees’ hours to make his workers happier and more productive.
    • One study found that people working 40 hours or less each week outperform on certain tasks those who work more than 55 hours per week.
    • A Stanford study found that the number of hours somebody works is not directly proportional to his output, while at 48 working hours, productivity falls.
    • Tony Schwartz says people work better in short bursts than long ones.
    • A 2014 Gallup survey found that American full-time workers averaged 47 hours per week, while almost 20% of Americans work 60 hours per week or more.
    • The OECD found that US workers worked more hours on average in 2014 than workers in many other countries, including the UK, Germany and Japan.
    • Alternet says white-collar knowledge workers have 6, not 8, hours of productive work in them each day.

Julia Ioffe at the Wall Street Journal said:

  • Putin is a tactician, not a strategist, but his economy is cratering and his military much weaker than the US military. Putin is moving into areas that the US has traditionally dominated; Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan.
  • Russian Muslims are all Sunni whereas Putin is aligning himself with an exclusively Shiite coalition and his Syrian move will inevitably blow up on him.
  • The US should take in many more refugees.

Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal said:

  • Putin is investing in Syria the way that Trump invests in real estate – with a very small investment for a potentially large payoff. His move into Syria helps distract the Russian people from its sinking economy.
  • Putin is a frog who jumps from lily pad to lily pad when he feels them sinking under his weight – from KGB agent to Leningrad technocrat to reformist president to patron of the Oligarchs.
  • Syria is a metastasizing cancer so the US has both a humanitarian and geopolitical interest. US no fly zones over northern Iraq in 1971 saved many Kurds and effectively helped create the Kurdish Autonomous Region – the single biggest American achievement in the Muslim world in the last 25 years.
  • Syria is many countries and just because we cannot solve it does not mean we cannot help its Kurdish areas become sustainable opposition.
  • The problem in Israel is the failure of leadership by Mahmoud Abbas, by Abu Mazen, in both tamping down and stoking violence.

Ian Bremmer at the Eurasia Group said:

  • Putin is in Syria to shore up Assad and not destroy ISIS. Taking casualties would be very unpopular in Russia.
  • Europe believes Syria is more important than Ukraine and that the only way to fix Syria is through Moscow, which could then ask Europe to back off sanctions. The cease-fire in Ukraine is working because Putin has got the paramilitaries there to back off their election. Europe and the US are moving farther apart every day.
  • Russia’s economy will contract by 4% to 4.5%, but its central bank has stabilized the rubble and during Putin’s tenure, per capita income has risen much.
  • 90% of Russians get their media primarily from state controlled TV with is pretty effective.
  • The problem with Syria is not Obama’s policy but that his rhetoric bears no reflection to his policy.
  • The Trans-Pacific pact is 40% of the world economy and a real pivot to Asia, the most important part of the world for the US – it is Obama’s most important successful foreign policy legacy. That TPP’s former architect Hillary Clinton is now opposed to it is astonishing.

Peter Beinart at the Atlantic said:

  • Putin’s move in Syria will increase terrorism against Russia by positioning it opposite the entire Sunni world and so cannot end well.
  • Obama is right not to get involved in Syria, and should not have done so in Yemen.
  • The rise in terrorism in Israel is a product of the fact that the two-state vision is weakening on both sides.

George Soros said the euro crisis has converted the EU from a voluntary association of free and legal nations, devoted to principles of democracy and human rights and willing to sacrifice some sovereignty for the common good, into an unequal relationship between creditors and debtors, who have difficulty meeting their obligations.

President Bill Clinton said:

  • The immigration/refugee problem in Europe can be turned into an opportunity: e.g. Syrians are overwhelmingly literate, productive, and historically secular, not super religious, and particularly not politically violent.
  • Ireland is the only European country that is younger than America and was growing like crazy, before its banking bubble, because it had many immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, which made it even younger.

Watch the video at http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/category/gps-episodes/ or read the full transcript at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1510/11/fzgps.01.html

The Curse Of The Euro: Money Corrupted, Democracy Busted – David Stockman’s Contra Corner 07-17-15

Salient to Investors:

David Stockman writes:

  • Germany has set fire to the Eurozone in order to save it. Lending another $96 billion to a bankrupt country makes no sense, while the fiscal targets set for Greece are ridiculous. Greece has a de facto public debt of $400 billion vs. $200 billion of GDP. Within days the entire banking system of Greece will be taken over by the ECB, meaning that depositors will be given a big haircut. Greece will become an outright debtors’ colony and its government will function as page-boys for the Troika occupiers, resulting in political and social upheaval which will spread throughout Europe as Greece implodes.
  • Another recession is coming to Europe. The Eurozone is a fatally flawed monetary union. If any sovereign state of the EU cannot pay its debts, those debts need to be written off or restructured.
  • The euro is the doomsday machine, or more precisely the rogue ECB behind it. The euro will eventually collapse and Keynesian policies will be repudiated and dismantled, but not before European prosperity is extinguished for a generation.
  • Europe had a de facto common currency before 1914 under the fixed exchange rates of the gold standard, which helped produce a multi-decade of prosperity not seen before or since.
  • The ECB printing press has fundamentally falsified the price of debt, produced phony economic growth in the early years and fiscal profligacy after the growth bubble burst after the 2008 crisis, resulting in only 0.9% annual rate of nominal GDP since. The EU-19 debt ratio has climbed steadily towards 100% of GDP since the financial crisis vs. the 60% debt-to-GDP target of the EU treaty.
  • Bond market discipline is fully compatible with national sovereignty and democratic fiscal governance and is a requisite for Europe.
  • Merkel was conned into believing that the original bond sell-off was due to the same speculators who supposedly caused the great financial crisis of 2008.
  • The burst global credit bubbles of 2008 and euro bond crash of 2010 and after had the same cause – central bank financial repression causing government bonds to be underpriced and global investors to scramble for yield; speculators could surf the financial bubbles on the back of cheap carry from the central bank pegged money market.
  • Superstate bureaucrats cannot meaningfully elevate economic growth rates and so enable insolvent state borrowers to grow out from under unsustainable debt. Portugal, Italy, Ireland Greece, Spain – PIIGS – and France prove that quasi-socialist welfare states in the contemporary European setting prove this.
  • When you destroy honest bond markets you eventually end up with Stalinist governance in the name of the free market.
  • Speculators who rode the Draghi bubble made hundreds of billions of profits buying PIIGS debt on 95% repo, and were then positioned to sell their bonds back to the ECB at the first sign of a market break.
  • Spain’s real GDP at the end of Q1, 2015 was still 6% below early 2008, but its debt ratio has risen sharply to near 100% of GDP. There is no possibility of honest fiscal governance in a social democracy like Spain when its debt price is blatantly falsified. Spain’s budget deficit in 2014 remained at 5.8% of GDP so won’t survive another recession, and will be bailed out fueling radical popular movements a la Greece.

Read the full article at http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/the-curse-of-the-euro-money-corrupted-democracy-busted/

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