Tag Archives: USA

COMMENTARY

Dollar

I want to begin by clarifying something I wrote in yesterday’s post.     I shared a quote from Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group, “The dollar is the indispensable currency,” she said. I added that, on this point, she is correct.

I should have added two words to that comment, “for now.”

The dollar right now is riding high and doing better than other major currencies.  But that does not mean the dollar is really strong. In fact, just yesterday Singapore and China announced the start of direct currency trading, bypassing the US dollar, which has been volatile and is not backed by anything. It’s just paper and is held up by confidence and nothing else. Note the following from Channel News Asia.

“BEIJING:  China will allow direct trading between its currency and the Singapore dollar from Tuesday (Oct 28), making it easier for companies here to do business with their Chinese counterparts.

The Sing dollar will be added to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) platform, which currently offers transactions between the yuan and 10 foreign currencies. The announcement came on Monday (Oct 27), after an agreement at the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Suzhou, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Previously, companies that wanted to convert a large amount of Sing dollars to renminbi (RMB) or vice versa had to do so via an intermediate currency such as the US dollar.

“This will lower foreign exchange transaction costs and encourage greater use of the two currencies in cross-border trade and investments,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a news release on Monday.

DPM Teo called this is a “major and significant” development which will reduce the cost of doing business and make it more convenient.”

Singapore is a major hub for the internationalization of the Chinese currency.   Some predict China will overtake America as the number one economy next year.   This means China can take on the burden of being a trading currency just as the US dollar has been.

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I’ve been reading a novel by Brad Thor set in Afghanistan. The 2009 book is titled “The Apostle.” The author clearly knows the country well and I’ve learned a lot about Afghanistan from it. Frankly, the book is as close to the country as I want to get!

I would like to share two paragraphs with you. The subject is not Afghanistan. The main character is Harvath.

“Harvath just couldn’t understand the liberal mindset. He was convinced that they believed deeply in what they said and what they did; his only problem was that it so often flew in the face of reality. They continually focused their rage on their protectors rather than their enemy. They denigrated their country, believing it was the source of all evil in the world. The truth was, when it came to Islam, it had been violent since its inception. Its clearly stated goal was worldwide conquest. And while Harvath believed there were peaceful and moderate Muslims, he knew from studying the religion that there was no such thing as peaceful and moderate Islam.

“The entire religion was a mess and needed a complete gut-rehab. And though he had a good feeling his country’s new president would probably not agree with him, he also knew that until the politically correct crowd stopped making excuses for them and undercutting any motivation to reform their religion themselves, the majority of Muslims wouldn’t do anything . . . Islam had been Islam for fourteen hundred years and what it had been was violent.”

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Which reminds me of the three teenage girls, all born in the USA and from the Denver area, who were detained in Frankfurt en route to Syria to fight with ISIS. All three were of Sudanese and Somali descent. It is not necessarily the case any more that second generations born in America become more American. It seems that, when it comes to Islam, assimilation doesn’t work any more.

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This is certainly the case in Tower Hamlets, a rundown poverty stricken area of east London, profiled this morning on PBS’ Focus on Europe. Tower Hamlets has the UK’s highest percentage of Muslims, over 30%. They are mostly from Bangladesh and Somalia.   A recent election there has led to accusations of corruption, including vote rigging. This is unheard of in British elections. Or was, until a significant percentage of Muslims took over an area and introduced their own brand of politics, just like home.

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It may seem a big jump from ISIS to Downton Abbey but it’s appropriate at this point.   The fifth series is already showing in the UK on ITV. It starts in the US on January 4th. Apparently, Lord Grantham is going to lose his dog in this series. The reason is quite simple – the dog is named Isis. Lord Grantham has had his dog for four seasons of the show, while the terrorist group is quite new. But viewers do not want to be reminded of terrorism when watching the series in their living rooms. Besides, Isis joined the family in 1912 and the series is now up to 1924. That’s about it for a Labrador’s lifespan.   Ours only made it to five.

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SOME THOUGHTS FROM INDIANAPOLIS

ed-miliband-getty

Ed Miliband is right.  You can’t trust the people.

Mr. Miliband is Leader of the Opposition Labour Party in the United Kingdom.

If his party wins the next election and he becomes prime minister, there will not be a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.  Mr. Miliband knows that if such a vote took place, it’s likely it would go against the EU.

The present Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, has promised a referendum in 2017, if his party wins next year’s election.  This does not mean Mr. Cameron actually wants the British people to vote on the issue – he had to commit to keep anti-EU members of his own party happy and to take the wind out of the sails of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, which is gaining in the polls.  UKIP advocates withdrawal from Europe.

The fact is that the ruling elite are not comfortable with referenda, giving the people the opportunity to vote on important issues like their future – do they want to continue a thousand years of freedom and independence, or would they rather surrender that freedom to the emerging European superpower that some have dubbed “the Fourth Reich?”  Certainly Germany, not Britain, is the dominant country in the union.

Why would party leaders want to continue EU membership and deny voters the opportunity to express themselves?

The EU is often described as “the gravy train.”  The most powerful Eurocrats, including former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and his wife Glynis, have done well out of the Eurocracy, the ruling cabal that runs the EU.  Thousands of others have equally benefitted at the expense of the people.

Those in power now know that, when they lose power in the United Kingdom itself, they can look forward to a lucrative “retirement” in the EU.

Besides, many British companies are in favor of continued membership as most of their sales are to other countries in the Union.

And it’s always nice to be able to travel around Europe without any visa or passport restrictions.

Those against an EU vote are in a difficult position right now – while denying the British people the right to express themselves on this crucial issue, they are condemning Russia for giving the people of Crimea an opportunity to determine their future!

There’s something not quite right here.

Of course, Putin knew the way the people would vote, so he did not take any risks.  Is it possible that Vladimir Putin is more in touch with the people than the average western leader?  Perhaps Ed Miliband and David Cameron should spend more time listening to voters instead of deciding what’s best for them.

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The Crimea is now a part of Russia and likely to remain so.  Nothing will change that.

But that does not mean nothing has changed.

The US could not really do anything.  But the perception of the United States has changed slightly due to this crisis, with the US seen as increasingly impotent.  It didn’t start with Crimea – the problem was highlighted last summer when President Obama backed down and did nothing about Syria’s genocide.  The president keeps making the mistake of declaring that the US will not use military force, when the best thing is to keep options open, which might make Assad, Putin or anybody else hesitate.  As Putin backs Assad, this means Russia has beat America twice in just over six months, which may encourage the Russian leader toward further action.

The EU, much closer to the scene of the crime, couldn’t do much either.  Apart from imposing economic sanctions, the EU was also impotent.  Surely this will spur the Europeans on to integrate their military forces so that they can thwart any further threat from Russia?  A combined European military would be a major military power, easily able to deter Russia and anybody else.

Russia also will suffer as a result of this.  It’s highly unlikely the country can remain in the G8, thereby further isolating Moscow; while sanctions will set back the country’s economy.

Nobody has really won, though Russia now rules Crimea again.

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I haven’t had much time to read or write this week as we are staying with our eldest daughter and family in the Indianapolis area.  The number of children playing around me (and on me) has increased by 300% (from two to six), which still leaves two missing.

It’s been a great week.