Sunday, June 29, 2008

USA Fed Facing Embarrassing IMF Investigation?

For many in the USA during any typical work week:

You get up. You go to work. You earn your pay. You go home and finish the rest of your day... totally unaware of what's going on at the global level regarding the value of the dollars in that paycheck you're bringing home.

Show of hands: Before now, how many didn't know that an organization called the International Monetary Fund (IMF) exists?

Interestingly enough (or perhaps 'not surprisingly') some countries love the IMF. Some countries hate the IMF. And yet, most countries belong to it. (see link)

It's purpose?
The IMF describes itself as "an organization of 185 countries (Montenegro being the 185th, as of January 18, 2007), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty". With the exception of North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru, all UN member states participate directly in the IMF. Most are represented by other member states on a 24-member Executive Board but all member countries belong to the IMF's Board of Governors.

The reason I bring this up now is because of a news article I found (quite by accident) which was recently translated (from German) into English reporting the following:
Officials with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have informed Bernanke about a plan that would have been unheard-of in the past: a general examination of the US financial system. The IMF's board of directors has ruled that a so-called Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) is to be carried out in the United States. It is nothing less than an X-ray of the entire US financial system.

As part of the assessment, the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the major investment banks, mortgage banks and hedge funds will be asked to hand over confidential documents to the IMF team. They will be required to answer the questions they are asked during interviews. Their databases will be subjected to so-called stress tests -- worst-case scenarios designed to simulate the broader effects of failures of other major financial institutions or a continuing decline of the dollar.

Under its bylaws, the IMF is charged with the supervision of the international monetary system. Roughly two-thirds of IMF members -- but never the United States -- have already endured this painful procedure. (link to full story)

The article goes on to report:
For seven years, US President George W. Bush refused to allow the IMF to conduct its assessment. Even now, he has only given the IMF board his consent under one important condition. The review can begin in Bush's last year in office, but it may not be completed until he has left the White House. This is bad news for the Fed chairman.

When the final report on the risks of the US financial system is released in 2010 -- and it is likely to cause a stir internationally -- only one of the people in positions of responsiblity today will still be in office: Ben Bernanke.

It all reminds me of an old Johnny Cash tune called "Ring of Fire." I'm guessing we all know who the fall guy is going to be when the dust settles.

You know, with all this talk about strengthening our boarders, it's kind of wierd to me that we would be required to "open our books" to nations outside our boarders.

Makes ya kinda wonder how many other foreign powers are dictating how our country is run and who is allowed to rule it ...doesn't it?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oil Bubbles about to Burst?

There's an old expression that goes something like this, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

With the price of oil and gas skyrocketing so quickly over the past 18 months, there are a whole lotta wheels squeaking -- and as usual, in Washington, a whole lotta finger-pointing, name-the-blame gaming and frankly IMHO, a whole lotta dumb ideas bubbling to the surface on how to correct the problem to quiet at least some of those squeaky wheels.

In Washington, the phrase should be more like this, "The biggest squeaky wheels get the grease."

Word on the street suggests one of those "biggest squeaky wheels" -- namely the financial lobbyists -- want to keep inflating the oil bubble... at least according to this Washington Post article.
Wall Street banks and other large financial institutions have begun putting intense pressure on Congress to hold off on legislation that would curtail their highly profitable trading in oil contracts -- an activity increasingly blamed by lawmakers for driving up prices to record levels.

Naturally, these squeaky wheels are playing the same old broken record "it's all about supply and demand" ...but, supply and demand of what, exactly?

Think about it.

Their industry runs on profits and losses. How do you show your clients a good return on their dollars when you lose one of your biggest money-makers? I'm talking about those cute surprise packages stuffed with sub-prime mortgages that are still reverberating shock waves through financial sectors. (It's not over until it's over.)

Back on point.

There is a bubble here, but whether it actually bursts will depend on who keeps blowing hot air into it. And, as it looks like the biggest squeaky wheels are getting bigger, they just might be allowed to continue doing that...
"Increasing regulation on what we do will not lower energy prices," said Greg Zerzan, head of global public policy for ISDA. The association, which represents all aspects of the multibillion-dollar practice of trading exotic financial contracts outside of formal exchanges, hosts a conference call every Friday in Washington to coordinate the activities of like-minded groups.

Its latest addition: the Financial Services Roundtable, the lobby for 100 of the nation's largest financial services companies. And now the Roundtable and ISDA are courting the nation's largest business federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to join their crusade. Chamber executives said they were seriously considering the alliance.

One thing about their industry they might have forgotten. They have to rely on the "trust" placed in them by the very investors buying their products. What happens when people finally stop trusting them, too?

Grab the popcorn. We're in for an interesting show.

Monday, June 09, 2008

REMC Elections Tuesday Night

It's that time of year again... and time to get involved with your REMC Co-op by showing up for the dinner/meeting Tuesday night (JUNE 10, 2008) with your BLUE CARD. Here are the details:

WHERE: Jasper County Fairgrounds

WHEN: Dinner from 5 – 6:30
Voting and meeting from 7 – 7:30
Comedian after that.

If you don't bring your BLUE CARD to the meeting, you will not receive a ballot, $5.00 bill credit, nor will you be eligible for the door prizes.

If you lost or misplaced your BLUE CARD, call Jasper County REMC at 866-4601

Also note -- if last year's super long line up is anything to go by, you'll definitely want to get there early this year.

SIDENOTE TO K.R.: There are 3 people running for elections that I know are passionate about trying to keep our rates low. Please vote for -- Leonard Richardson -- Danny Reese -- Shelly Conley

See you tomorrow night!

And PLEASE remember to bring your BLUE CARD.

PS: Yes, K.R., I got my computer fixed today.Whew! Thought I'd have to go buy yet another one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Salmonella In Your Salad

First lettuce, then spinach, and now it's tomatoes that have been identified as salmonella contaminated -- and causing the latest in a long string of salmonella outbreaks over the past few years.

Read this June 3/2008 news article: Tomatoes Eyed in Salmonella Outbreak

Elsewhere on my blog I posted links to several scientific studies providing plenty of evidence that shows how plants can actually uptake salmonella (and related) during the growth cycle of the plant. Indeed, one study revealed salmonella can actually thrive and, in some instances, multiply inside the fruit or vegetable for a considerable length of time after uptake.

Not to sound like a broken record here, but jeepers creepers, has the world forgotten how to farm?

Sustainable SAFE farming practices aren't that difficult to follow.

Certain Big AG practices on the other hand appear (to me) to be rapidly deteriorating the safety of our food supply, destroying water and land in the process.

I wonder how many "outbreaks" it will take to wake them up?


Jon... is that coming from YOUR side of the trees?

I've had to keep our little boy inside or away from our home these past two days in a row. Not a great beginning to his summer vacation from school.

The amonia was so strong it was actually burning my nostrils, ...thought my eyes would bleed!! And the stench -- well -- sheesh -- it was as bad as taking a drive through Fair Oaks, maybe even a bit worse.

The air conditioner, 2 huge ionizing air purifiers, one small HEPA air purifier and the like sure had their work cut out for them on Monday. You have no idea how hard it was to pop a few flower seeds in the ground. Thankfully we spent most of the day at the library yesterday to get away from it but coming home was no picnic.

If it was an accident, please clean it up right quick.

If it's just "business as usual" and this is what we have to look forward to for the rest of the summer, heed this: "Stop trespassing on my land!"

If it wasn't you, Jon, then I apologize for singling you out... but, maybe you can tell me who it was and where it came from?

Thank you.

PS: Where do I lodge my formal written complaints?