Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 31, 2009

April Fools

Some April Fools will meet tomorrow in London. But sadly the G20 meeting is likely to be a bad joke yielding no result.

But first via totoro in comments this:

Factory output is collapsing at the fastest pace ever. Here is the global roundup. The annualised figures for February are as follows: Taiwan - 43 percent, Ukraine - 34 percent, Japan - 30 percent, Singapore - 29 percent, Hungary - 23 percent, Sweden - 20 percent, Korea - 19 percent, Turkey - 18 percent, Russia - 16 percent, Spain - 15 percent, Poland - 15 percent, Brazil - 15 percent, Italy - 14 percent, China - 12 percent, Germany - 12 percent, France - 11 percent, US - 10 percent and Britain - 9 percent. This is a catastrophe.

Yes. This is a catastrophic failure of world markets. But what are the G20 going to do about it? Likely nothing.

At least three groups of countries have very different ideas of what should be the priorities.

The U.S., UK and Japan want a big global stimulus financed by more debt. The continental big-powers France and Germany want global regulation of all financial markets. China and Russia want a new global reserve currency based on a mix of currencies and gold and in the form of IMF special drawing rights.

I am unsure about other demands. What are Brazil and Argentine asking for? What are India's and South Korea's and Indonesia's plans? In case you know please let us all learn of it in the comments.

The likely results as far as I can tell:

  • The IMF will get more money so it can support more countries in dire need.
  • There will be some statement to keep world trade open and against protectionism but all involved will continue to implement some protectionist measures.
  • There will be some symbolic steps to more regulation, but the real steps there will be taken individually.

In summary the G20 will do nothing important or needed. There is disunity on the diagnostic of how we got here, on the state into which we want to get and on the methods of how to achieve a desirable new equilibrium.

It is sad but a probably unavoidable bad joke. Then maybe the real bad joke was globalization and wild running free-market believe. If the world learns from this, we may be better off in future days. My hope for that is not great. There are still to many fools around.

Posted by b on March 31, 2009 at 18:30 UTC | Permalink


not that's the main point, but my nick is Totoro (Miyazaki fanboy here), not Toroto :)

Posted by: totoro | Mar 31 2009 19:02 utc | 1

sorry totoro - my bad - corrected

Posted by: b | Mar 31 2009 19:22 utc | 2

Often ppl meet just to reassure themselves they are not at cross purposes or enemies, that they can pretend to agree, feel they are acting for the future, and so on. (They get paid, as well.) It is a social occasion, not more. The meeting or festivity or whatever is good for a lot of waffle and handshaking, goodwill is spread about, animosity is expressed but muted, or faked up for the media, wink wink, it all makes for good press, good image for all, and everyone leaves quite satisfied with some new contacts in their agendas. In any case the G20 is utterly incompetent.

Posted by: Tangerine | Mar 31 2009 19:34 utc | 3

it will be a joke completely without humour or even sense

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 31 2009 19:44 utc | 4

It will be spun a a success, buy now and get out on Friday.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 31 2009 20:58 utc | 5

OT nice to hear of a fellow Miyazaki-fan reader. Nausica and Castle in the Sky are my faves.

Posted by: Cloud | Mar 31 2009 21:38 utc | 6

A friend just e-mailed to tell me he just got back from spending an hour trying to get a park pass at a Federal Park System ranger station, with five Federal employees (with life time pensions waiting), all standing around with their thumbs in their pockets, waiting for the female Chief Ranger to finish watching a soap opera in her darkened Fed office, over the perceptible humm and occasional moan of a well applied dildo.

Your taxes hard at work, like they will be at G20, funneling bimbos into the hotels, yes, I suppose, a few bimboys, and all that lobster thermidor and Chateau Lafitte.

You see, it's only the working people and the indigent farmers who are hurting,
in government, same old, same old, paycheck on Friday, two one-hour coffee breaks, leave work at 4:30 to avoid the commute the stupid schleps get stuck in. In finance of course, there are no hours, and no commute, except for the pre-flight checklist.

Ahh,ha,ha,ha,ah,ha,ha. All those lard ass government employees riding around on our backs, and those bankers hovering at 30,000 feet, cracking the whip. Pay Taxes!!

Posted by: Buster Brown | Mar 31 2009 22:12 utc | 7

bernhard -

have your read the draft recommendations (pdf) from the "Commission of Experts of the President of the General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System" - there is a lot more to it than a change to the global reserve currency (i think the statements from china are in support of this UN GA report).

i'm no economist but it's the most sensible proposal i have yet to see. would love to know what barflies here think.

back to my usual lurking now....

Posted by: selise | Mar 31 2009 22:14 utc | 8

New International Currency SDR is the 'Xe', pronounced like the Jewish 'L'chaim':

Blackwater Worldwide Logo
Type Private military security firm
Founded 1997
Founder(s) Erik Prince, Al Clark
Headquarters Moyock, North Carolina, USA[1]
Key people J. Cofer Black, Gary Jackson
Industry Private Military & Security Contractor
Divisions Global Divisions

Xe, formerly Blackwater Worldwide & Blackwater USA), is a private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark. In October 2007, Blackwater USA renamed itself Blackwater Worldwide, and was colloquially referred to simply as "Blackwater". It has alternatively been referred to as a mercenary organization by numerous reports in the international media, and has a wide array of business divisions, subsidiaries, and spin-off corporations.

Based in the American state of North Carolina, Xe operates a tactical training facility ( [show location on an interactive map] 36°27′19″N 76°12′09″W / 36.455359°N 76.202545°W / 36.455359; -76.202545) which the company claims is the world's largest, and at which the company trains more than 40,000 people a year, mostly from U.S. or foreign military and police services. The training consists of military offensive and defensive operations, as well as smaller scale personal security.

Xe Worldwide is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department's three private security contractors. Of the 987 contractors Xe provides, 744 are U.S. citizens. At least 90 percent of Xe Worldwide's revenue comes from government contracts, of which two-thirds are no-bid contracts.


No global catastrophe for the burc's and mercs!! That's what they feed off of!!

Posted by: Sammy Livigne | Mar 31 2009 22:45 utc | 9

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While President Obama has insisted that securing Afghanistan against a rise in terrorist groups is a top priority in the war on terrorism, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that the problems in that country are not as thorny as those in Iraq.

Shifting around easily in his lard-ass shined-seat chinos, McCain beamed boyishly, "It's [Afghanistan's] not as tough as Iraq, and don't let anyone tell you that it is, because when we (sic) started the [2007] surge, Iraq was virtually in a state of collapse." McCain commented during a speech at The Foreign Policy Initiative, a collection of similar shiny-pants lard asses on the Federal welfare dole.

President Obama announced a troop increase Friday of 4,000 in Afghanistan, in addition to the 17,000 surge previously announced. Obama said those troops will help train the Afghan army and police. While McCain said he supports the president's efforts in Afghanistan, he wouldn't have 'surged like some pussy':

"I would have announced a dramatic increase in the Afghan army. I'm talking about a 200,000, maybe 250,000 person army. It's a big country, it's a big population, it's a huge profit potential, and I swing a huge dick!" he boasted, referring to the Senate Armed Forces Committee which sets the bloated Defense budget. "We're not gonna let a little global economic slowdown stop Freedom and Democracy profit drive to reach one trillion dollars under the 111th Congress!"

Posted by: Lamp Black | Mar 31 2009 22:56 utc | 10

I agree with b's summation; the current G20 meeting is nothing more than a political staging ground for the battle lines of the next decade. I would voice it something like this:

The U.S., Australia and UK want a big global stimulus financed by more debt: i.e. -- they want the current world order maintained, since it was built by them and favors them.

The "continental big-powers France and Germany" want global regulation of all financial markets...because they support a social-democratic resolution to this crisis, in the tradition of "Old Europe" (as Cheney once put it). Northern Europe will join them. In these matters, i predict they will eventually be joined by Mediterranean Europe and most of democratic Central Europe (i.e. -- not Ukraine, Georgia, and the like).

China and Russia want a new global reserve currency based on a mix of currencies and gold and in the form of IMF special drawing rights. In this, i predict they will be joined by the bulk of the second- and third-world countries, esp. Syria, leftist South- and Central America, parts of Africa (esp. North Africa), most of Central Asia,

India is currently up in the air. Traditional alignment against Chinese interests puts them at fundamental odds with the campaign for a new reserve, but at the same time the traditional Indian non-aligned/socialist orientation puts them in favor of it. The main joker in the cards is the current U.S. black-ops campaign directed against all opposition to India's far right and the possibility that the BJP may gain power and then shift hard to the right in a reactionary stance against China and Pakistan.

Pakistan, too, is up in the air, because they are essentially a Saudi client, and the Saudis have a lot of their money in U.S. dollars. China, however, is making big inroads, based primarily upon Pakistan's fear of India and its newfound fear of the U.S. The likelihood of a re-alignment in favor of China is increased by the current U.S. attacks on it.

Iran and Syria will favor a new reserve currency -- if not overtly, then covertly.

In short time (<10 years), Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt will also favor a new reserve. Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia will probably favor the Chinese solution. All of these areas have strong national elites which favor the current world system, but each also has extremely powerful popular movements which oppose recent the USUK globalization putsch. Over time, the popular movements will grow stronger and the elites be forced to entrench themselves behind increased surveillance and state policing. As that ossification develops the USUK hold will find their influence waning, and their position increasingly embattled. Time, in this, is not in their favor.

Japan is actually at a crossroads; they are afraid of China, but recognize that in a very short time they will need to "play nice" and cozy up to the behemoth in their back yard. Japan is sensible and practical, and above all else will do what's best for Japan. Remember: the economy may be "failing", but Japan still has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and that shows no signs of taking a hit. In the long run, what's best for Japan is to shift from the U.S. sphere to the Chinese sphere. In the long run (<15 years), that transition will be overtly complete. It will begin in earnest once Taiwan flips -- and Taiwan will flip. The only question is whether or not the U.S. will fight a war to flip it back.

So basically we have "Old Euorpe" social democratic solutions that largely keep the basic capitalist framework, but inhibited by more strict regulatory agencies; the Sino-Russian solution, which favors second- and third-world countries at the expense of U.S./UK hegemony (and both of these solutions are, in both places, explicitly linked with "Green" initiatives); finally, there is the USUK "solution", which means more war, more intrusive state policing, increased social and economic stratification, and environmental "solutions" corralled into the multi-national corporate sphere (i.e. -- long term environmental degradation for anyone who's not part of the USUK top-tenth percentile).

In the next 6-12 years, I see the European bloc and the Russo-Sino bloc eventually coming to terms with one another and negotiating a comprehensive agreement that isolates the U.S. and UK, both economically and diplomatically (i.e. -- a Eurasian renaissance). The main inhibiting factor will be what happens with India, Iran and Pakistan during that time. If the U.S. and UK succeed in turning India, then look towards the longer end of that period. If the U.S. fails, then look towards the shorter end.

Personally, i think it will be closer to the 6-year time frame; maybe even sooner.

Posted by: china_hand2 | Apr 1 2009 3:19 utc | 11


Posted by: outsider | Apr 1 2009 5:11 utc | 12

Indeed, Buster Brown @#7, et al...
typical... AND i hear you loud and clear, whiskey tango fox trot.

This woman makes 80K a year..and all the perks and accommodations that go with it... I'm reminded of the saying, "there are no free lunches" you know, unless your one of the insider elites with expense accounts and domestic per diem rates and links to foreign per diem rates, i.e. meals, and Incidental Expenses and further, this is low on the hierarchy of politics... in other words not the upper echelons of the PTMB (POWERS THAT MAKE BELIEVE) these people live way above and beyond the working poor and have excellent health coverage. I'd say this is the joke, if we want to analyst the opera.

Martha Reeves, the ex-lead singer of Motown legends Martha and the Vandellas somehow won a seat on Detroit City Council. *(couldnt find a quick way to un-embed the video)*

A local reporter 'tries' to harass her about her misuse of city property to enable her gambling habit (at least $1000/month), among other things. Indeed, political deceit (& conceit) in general.

Don't get me wrong much respect to Motown legends Martha and the Vandellas but I have lamented numerous times, it's the system, not the people in many cases. Last word, and I'll zip it, but these civil servants do not work for us, but for themselves.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 1 2009 7:31 utc | 13

@11 that is my fondest wet dream. nice to see somebody articulate it so fully.

Posted by: ...---... | Apr 1 2009 16:05 utc | 14

There are two African bloggers with press credentials liveblogging the G20, Sokari Ekene (Nigeria) blogs at Black Looks and Daudi Were (Kenya) at Mentalacrobatics.
I'm not personally a great fan of liveblogging, but either or both of these people may bring interesting perspectives to the topic.

Posted by: xcroc | Apr 2 2009 0:12 utc | 15

china_hand2, great post, much food for thought. I personally forecasted a United States of Europe 40 years ago when the concept was unfashionable and the Euro was a pipe dream.

Your ´Eurasian renaissance´ is also highly feasible because of common interests and the dynamism of both spheres, both of which have more to gain by cooperation than by competition. The U.S. will be increasingly isolated until it loses relevance. Of course, this increases the possibility (= the excuse) for war to distract USUK populations from their plight, but the course of history will not be reversed barring a war to end all wars. The decline of the Dollar is a foregone conclusion.

As for Iran-Syria and the Middle East in general, I believe the region will succumb to Iranian hegemony as Iran (whether with a Shah, Mullahs or a democracy) is far better educated, organized, wealthy and dynamic than any other potential power in the area. But I cannot see Iran physically invading anyone, as Iranians aren´t anywhere nearly as militarily aggressive as portrayed in the West, and instead they will exercise soft power to dominate the area, assisted by the nation´s geo-strategic advantage of 16 common land and sea borders (2nd only to Russia).

Posted by: Parviz | Apr 2 2009 6:47 utc | 16


40 years ago, i was a glint in my father's eye.

Like you, i have faith that Iran is going to emerge from these times strengthened and empowered.

Here's hoping the Israelis aren't monstrous enough to actually follow through on their nuclearized threats.

Posted by: china_hand2 | Apr 2 2009 11:58 utc | 17

...the Euro was a pipe dream.

Maybe so at that point. But you forget, or do not know about, the ‘greatest’ monetary Union - Napoléon Premier! For the anecdote, the Napoleon, a gold coin, weighed about 5 grams of gold. Other coins were of silver and of regulated specified weight.

The system was set up in 1865. First France, Italy, Belgium, Switz. signed a convention. The coins could be used indifferently anywhere and the FF and CHF the Italian Lira etc. were at parity and remained so - that was the point!

32 (about? - no. from a newspaper...) countries adopted the system. It was the dominant monetary Intl system. Luxemburg, Greece, signed on right away. Then Austria-Hungary, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Roumania. Thru bi-lateral accords: Spain, the Vatican, San Marino, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Crete. Next, aligned countries: Serbia, Bulgaria, Venezuela, Peru, Haiti, and some others. Some joined unilaterally: Argentina, Brasil, Chili. Others participated because of colonial domination: Tunisia, Comores, Congo, Erythrea...

The 1914-1918 hit. The system was destroyed and convertibility to gold scotched. Exchange parity soon fell by the wayside...

I know the coins well as the last country to use them was Switz. Switz stopped producing them (silver coins to specified weight for the 2 chf, 1 chf and 50 cent chf ) in 1967. They are still in circulation today, though picked out by collectors therefore now very scarce, and cursed by ordinary citizens as automatons don’t accept them - they are too heavy.

Posted by: Tangerine | Apr 2 2009 17:25 utc | 18

nothing was as clear today in the press conference of obama -is that he represents an empire in great decline. between reagan & to the end of the bush/cheney junta including clinton - they have destroyed the political, military & economic base of their empire - it is neither robust or possesses any souplesse. this decline is ugly & going to get uglier

in europe unfortunately - the berlusonisation of politics is going ahead faster than the left can oppose it - though i respect the exemplary actions taken in london against the thieves

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2 2009 18:02 utc | 19

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