Archive | Economy

Robert Fisk: Countries Holding Secret Meetings To Replace the Dollar

In the (UK) Independent, Robert Fisk, who has wide contacts in the Middle East, reports on “secret meetings . . . by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on” an Arab scheme that “will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.”

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

The Americans, who are aware the meetings have taken place – although they have not discovered the details – are sure to fight this international cabal which will include hitherto loyal allies Japan and the Gulf Arabs. Against the background to these currency meetings, Sun Bigan, China‘s former special envoy to the Middle East, has warned there is a risk of deepening divisions between China and the US over influence and oil in the Middle East. “Bilateral quarrels and clashes are unavoidable,” he told the Asia and Africa Review. “We cannot lower vigilance against hostility in the Middle East over energy

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Obama Administration Considering Tax Credits for New Hires

On the New York Times Caucus blog, John Harwood revealed that the Obama Administration is considering “a new package of tax cuts and other job creation measures.”

Privately, Mr. Obama’s economic advisers are sifting options for a new package of tax cuts and other job creation measures to be unveiled in next year’s State of the Union address — or earlier if pressure for action becomes irresistible.

On CNBC at about 1:01 ET, John Harwood explained his cryptic comments by saying that among the proposals being considered are “tax credits for new hires.”

Imagine you are a small businessperson thinking about adding an employee. Should you hire now — or wait until next February to see if you can get a tax credit for hiring that person.

If employers become like American car buyers waiting for the next round of industry rebates or government give-aways, then the employment picture will deteriorate further.

It’s not hard to see how to promote employment: lower FICA taxes for everyone — immediately. [...]

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Meredith Whitney: The Credit Crunch Continues

Bank Analyst Meredith Whitney in the Wall Street Journal:

Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit, and credit is contracting. Access to credit is being denied at an accelerating pace. Large, well-capitalized companies have no problem finding credit. Small businesses, on the other hand, have never had a harder time getting a loan.

Since the onset of the credit crisis over two years ago, available credit to small businesses and consumers has contracted by trillions of dollars, and that phenomenon is reflected in dismal consumer spending trends. Equally worrisome are the trends in small-business credit, which has contracted at one of the fastest paces of any lending category. Small business loans are hard to find, and credit-card lines (a critical funding source to small businesses) have been cut by 25% since last year.

Unfortunately for small businesses, credit-line cuts are only about half way through. Home equity loans, also historically a key funding source for start-up small businesses, are not a source of liquidity anymore because more than 32% of U.S. homes are worth less than their mortgages.

Why do small businesses matter so much? In the U.S., small businesses employ 50% of the country’s workforce and contribute 38% of GDP. Without access to credit, small businesses can’t grow, can’t hire, and too often end up going out of business. What’s more, small businesses are often the primary source of this country’s innovation. Apple, Dell, McDonald’s, Starbucks were all started as small businesses.

What’s especially disturbing is how taxpayer dollars have supported “too big to fail” businesses yet left small businesses unassisted and at a significant disadvantage. Small businesses do not have the same access to government guarantees on their debt. After all, most of these small businesses

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