Why Does Iran Want Nuclear Weapons? An Alarming Possibility

March 3rd, 2015 No comments

A heavy cloak of surrealism encapsulates the negotiations the Obama administration is conducting with Iran over the latter’s nuclear enrichment program. Though the premise of the diplomatic negotiations being spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to permit Iran to retain a substantial uranium enrichment program so long as the Iranian nuclear project is “peaceful,” there is a clear consensus by senior members of America’s intelligence community, past and present,  that Iran’s nuclear activities are solely geared towards eventual weapons production. An example of that viewpoint was expressed recently by the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency,  Michael Morell.

 

In a February interview with Charlie Rose on Bloomberg TV, the former CIA deputy director, commenting on leaks indicating that the Obama administration proposed to allow Tehran to retain more than 6,000 functioning centrifuges utilized for uranium enrichment, said “If you are going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 is pretty much the number you need.” Morell added, “If you have a power program, you need a lot more. By limiting them to a small number of centrifuges, we are limiting them to the number you need for a weapon.” (http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/feb/25/michael-morell/odd-reality-irans-centrifuges-enough-bomb-not-powe/) In the same interview, the former number two man at the CIA stated that he is convinced that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has already made a decision to acquire nuclear weapons capability, most probably through an undetected covert program. (https://archive.org/details/BLOOMBERG_20150219_000000_Charlie_Rose#start/2640/end/2700)

 

Having made the leap in recognizing that Iran’s claimed “peaceful” nuclear project is  without question a weapons program, functioning alongside Tehran’s large-scale ballistic missile development and production project, the intelligence experts, including Michael Morell, provide explanations for the motivation behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program deeply rooted in Western concepts, including regime preservation and enhancing Iranian hegemony in the Middle East. In my view, this is a mistaken approach, because it is based solely on speculation from analysts schooled in secular geopolitical theories.

 

I offer a dissenting view on the purpose of Iran’s nuclear weapons project, which is based on what the supreme leader of Iran has communicated to his own Iranian constituents. On July 9, 2011 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech to teachers and graduates of Mahdaviat, a term referring to the belief in Shia Islam in the return of the 12th Imam or Mahdi, an eschatological figure that will supposedly herald in an era of global Islamic justice through an apocalyptic annihilation of the present world order. The speech the supreme leader delivered is extraordinary in its content, and can be viewed on YouTube, complete with English subtitles (http://youtu.be/MtzvMkV3V-g). What is most striking about Khamenei’s discourse is that the most senior political leader of a geographically complex nation of 80 million people, with major economic and social challenges, spoke for more than twenty minutes without a single reference to the myriad of secular issues confronting Iran. The entirety of the speech delivered by the supreme leader of Iran was devoted to the return of the 12th Imam as the Mahdi from a state of occultation. He closed his address with the following words: “I hope we will be among his followers both when he is in occultation and when he re-appears. By Allah’s favor, we will be among the soldiers who will fight alongside Imam Mahdi and I hope we will be martyred for his cause.”

 

In the second decade of the 21st century it staggers the Western mind to have to intellectually confront a nation-state conducting its policy for a theological and possibly eschatological purpose. However, based on what Iran’s supreme leader has clearly communicated is his top priority, namely the martyrdom of the Iranian people for the sake of the return of the 12th Imam, the possible connection of Tehran’s nuclear weapons project with the theological agenda of that nation’s rulers should not be discounted by policymakers in Washington. The Obama administration and the State Department may find it inconceivable that a nation in our contemporary world would create a vast uranium enrichment capability, much of it at hardened or underground locations, for the objective of bringing about an apocalyptic event that will set the stage for the return of the 12th Imam. However, ignoring the words of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  and transposing our own Western concepts on how we perceive Iran’s motivation for creating its nuclear project is a perilous course for America and the world to pursue.

 

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U.S. Economy Falters: Growth Fell In Last Quarter of 2014

February 28th, 2015 Comments off

 

According to revised data from the Commerce Department, the American economy grew by only 2.2 percent in Q4 of 2014, significantly lower than the earlier reported figure of 2.6 percent, which caught analysts off-guard.  The corrected GDP growth figure for Q4 is a sharp drop from the reported 5 percent growth in Q3, throwing a wet blanket over claims made earlier by the Obama administration that the U.S. economy was set for strong, consistent growth.

Typical with poor economic data emanating from Washington, the analysts and pundits are already doing their spin routine, claiming that the disappointing economic data for Q4 of last year was merely a temporary speed bump. The prediction of annual GDP growth in excess of 3 percent in 2015 for the American economy is being forecasted by many observers.

But what about the undeniably very bad economic news coming from the Eurozone and Russia, and the slowdown in China and Brazil? As the U.S. economy is not a island, it seems unreasonably optimistic to believe that the proliferation of bad economic news from abroad will not impact the United States negatively.

 

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Obama, Iran and the late William Buckley

February 16th, 2015 Comments off

There are growing indications that the Obama administration will sign a nuclear agreement with Iran that will allow Tehran to become a nuclear-threshold state. It seems the only issue being contested at present is the extent of the cosmetic and temporary concessions the Iranians will grant so that Iran does not fully emerge as a nuclear weapons state until after the expiration of the Obama presidency.  The disarming body language and genuine warmth that characterizes the public interaction between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Minster of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif seems to point in that direction, belying the fact that these two nations have not had diplomatic relations for 35 years because the government of one of those states ordered its armed thugs to attack and seize the embassy of the other nation, in the most flagrant violation of international law, holding its diplomats hostage for 444 days.

Of course, Barack Obama has promised on more than one occasion that he would never permit Iran to become a nuclear armed state. Then again, this is the same President Obama who warned Syria’s president not to use poison gas on his own people, or there would be consequences for crossing that red line. And let us not forget the President’s assurances that the war in Iraq was over and it was safe to withdraw all U.S. forces, or that the emerging Islamic State was nothing more than a “jayvee team” or that Yemen was a great success story for America’s anti-terrorism strategy–the same Yemen where Washington was recently forced to close its embassy after a coup in that country staged by anti-American rebels loyal to Iran.

The consequences involved in permitting Iran to become a nuclear weapons state are, obviously, far more consequential. Barack Obama is not the first president confronting a rogue regime about to acquire nuclear weapons capability. In the early 1990s, evidence mounted that North Korea was embarking on a nuclear weapons program. As with President Obama, then President Clinton pledged to the American people that the North Korean regime would never be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons. Then former President Jimmy Carter came to the rescue. He flew to North Korea, met with the reigning dictator and laid the groundwork for what became the 1994 Agreed Framework treaty, which supposedly froze North Korea’s attempt to develop atomic weapons through plutonium production in exchange for U.S. economic aid. However, the treaty collapsed after Clinton left office when U.S. intelligence learned that North Korea had cheated on the agreement by secretly developing a uranium enrichment program as an alternative path towards developing nuclear bombs. In 2006, North Korea conducted its first test detonation of a nuclear bomb.

It appears that the Obama administration is following in the path originally set by President Clinton. In addition to tolerating a vast nuclear enrichment facility, much of it underground, that can only have been established for the eventual mass production of nuclear bombs to mate with Tehran’s increasingly powerful and longer-range ballistic missiles, the current administration has been passive in the face of Iran’s growing hegemony in the Middle East, as witnessed by Tehran’s virtual  occupation of Lebanon through its proxy militia, its massive intervention in the Syrian civil war on the side of Bashar al-Assad, and increasing military involvement and control in Iraq and the recent pro-Iranian coup in Yemen. This passivity is inexplicable, considering the potential  and dire strategic and economic consequences for the United States.

What about the character of the regime that President Obama and his national security team seem about to trust with the most destructive weapons on earth? Amid  the long list of Iranian terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its interests aboard  unleashed by Tehran since 1979, there is one which, more than any other, defines the essence of the regime of the Ayatollahs and its contempt for the United States.

In 1984 the CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, was kidnapped by the Iranian controlled Hezbollah  militia. The fate of William Buckley was disclosed by Washington Post columnist Jack Anderson in an article published the following year (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1979&dat=19851210&id=ZqUiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1a0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3231,8626261). According to Anderson, who based his account on confidential sources within the U.S. intelligence community, Buckley was smuggled into Iran, and subjected to numerous bouts of brutal interrogation under barbaric torture in the basement of the Iranian foreign ministry, the same building being presided over today by John Kerry’s Iranian counterpart, Zarif.  The barbarous torture eventually induced a heart attack, leading to the death of Buckley. As Jack Anderson stated in his article, Iran was responsible for the horrific murder under torture of an American patriot.

President Obama seems determined to move forward on a nuclear agreement with the regime that tortured and murdered William Buckley. He should reflect on how this dedicated CIA agent must have felt, abandoned by his government and alone with his Iranian torturers, enduring a hellish nightmare in the basement of the Iranian foreign ministry.  Is the nation William Buckley died for now about to be abandoned, for the sake of a presidential legacy?

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Islamic State–aka ISIS–Message To The World: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Takes No Prisoners

February 7th, 2015 Comments off

 

“The medium is the message”

Marshall McLuhan

 

 

In declaring himself caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is following in the footsteps of an ancient role model, Abu al-Abbas, founder of the Abbasid Caliphate. Historians regard the Abbasid dynasty as the most successful Arab Caliphate. Under their rule, Arab-speaking Islamic civilization reached its zenith, and at its peak it exceeded European civilization in its economic and scientific advancement. Its founder, however, did not rise to power on a bed of roses by conforming to what present-day international law experts would label the “rules of war.” Abu al-Abbas marched to the beat of a different drummer, whose echoes resonate with the present-day leader of the Islamic State.

Abu al-Abbas appointed himself caliph in a manner replicated by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He initiated a civil war against the then-existing Omayyad Caliphate, raising the black flag  that would be copied nearly thirteen centuries later by al-Baghdadi. The founder of the Abbasid dynasty had a very simple military strategy; slaughter every supporter, servant and blood-related operatives of the Omayyad Caliphate, without mercy and always justified on the basis of Islamic texts, suitably interpreted. Then, after the capture of Damascus by his forces in 750 A.D. , the new caliph seemed to relent in his blood lust, inviting eighty surviving officials of the deposed Omayyad Caliphate to a reconciliation dinner. While the unsuspecting dinner guests were gorging on food and drink, they were suddenly attacked by soldiers of the caliph, and hacked to pieces. As described in various Islamic histories, the caliph insisted that the dinner continue, including musical entertainment, without the corpses of the slaughtered victims being removed. Shortly afterwards, Abu al-Abbas delivered his first public address as caliph, in which he proudly referred to himself as “al Saffah,” Arabic for “The Bloodshedder.” That is how the founder of the Abbasid Caliphate has become known in history, and he is the role model for the man who appointed himself caliph of the nascent Islamic State.

The horrifically barbaric ritual murders being propagated via the Internet by the Islamic State would, in a different context, be classified as snuff pornography. However, in the second decade of the 21st century they amount to weapons of war. The Islamic State may not have an air force to compete with American dominance in the skies over Syria and Iraq, but it does have equal access to the  Internet, which in effect serves as the tactical air support for the Islamic State. In an era of asymmetrical warfare, it is the means utilized by al-Baghdadi to create what amounts to a level playing field, enabling him to confront the United States with some degree of success.

Cyberspace has evolved into the most effective operational realm for the Islamic State, and is integrated into all of its activities; military, ideological and psychological. The caliph of the Islamic State has created an image akin to that of the founder of the Abbasid Caliphate; “the Bloodshedder.” In one of the video execution spectacles released by the Islamic State, al-Baghdadi declared : “Know that we have armies in Iraq and an army in Sham [Syria] of hungry lions whose drink is blood and play is carnage.”

With the Islamic State and its elaborate Internet propaganda arm, it is clear that the medium is indeed the message. It provides the war effort of the new caliphate with a pervasiveness that is truly global in its impact. It conveys the clear message that the armies of al-Baghdadi take no prisoners, and display not the slightest compassion or mercy towards those it deems as the “unbelievers.” It also sends another message to that special breed of men it seeks to recruit as fighters;  a theologically-sanctified collective psycho-pathology that provides those on our planet with such inclinations an environment to practice barbaric cruelty on human beings without limits of conscience or the restraint of a Western-imposed Geneva Convention.

Standing in opposition to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is President Barack Obama, America’s Commander-in-Chief and leader of the Free World, whose latest pronouncement on this conflict, made at the National Prayer Breakfast, was advice to Christians not to get on their “high horse” because of the violence being committed by the Islamic State.  “People committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” proffered the President, in connection with the Crusades that occurred a millennium ago (http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-31156153).

While Obama engages in an esoteric verbal exercise  in deflecting any reference to radical Islamic extremism, his opponent, free of any intellectual ambiguity, ruthlessly but effectively pursues his war against those he deems the unbelievers. If anything, the most recent comments by the president display  growing disarray and confusion within the Obama administration on how to wage war against the Islamic State.

 

 

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U.S. Economy Was In Slowdown In Final Quarter of 2014

January 31st, 2015 Comments off

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis  has released its initial figures for the final quarter of 2014; GDP grew by 2.6 percent, a disappointing showing after the Q3 results supposedly showed 5 percent GDP growth. Several observers were skeptical of the 5 percent number for Q3, which was the basis for the Obama administration proclaiming victory and the return of economic prosperity in the United States.  Even if the Q3 number was correct,  overall GDP growth in the U.S. economy, based on official figures, was 2.4 percent for all of 2014.

While the official GDP growth figures for 2014 indicate the fastest level of economic growth in the U.S. since the global economic and financial crisis arose in 2008, it is still a very weak number after six years of a supposed recovery, and after trillions of dollars of deficit spending and vast monetary easing by the Federal Reserve in a frantic effort to stimulate the American economy. And now, Europe and even China are facing a slowdown, and in the case of the Eurozone, probable recession, likely to be exacerbated by the looming conflict with Greece over the terms of that nation’s financial bailout.

The U.S. is not immune to what is happening elsewhere in an era of interconnected economics. The lackluster growth figures for Q4 is a clear sign of that.

 

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China’s Economic Growth Slows To Lowest Level Since 1990

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

China’s National Bureau of Statistics released GDP growth figures for 2014, indicating that the world’s second largest economy grew that year by 7.4 percent (http://www.stats.gov.cn/english/PressRelease/201501/t20150120_671038.html), below the planned rate of 7.5 percent but exceeding expectations of 7.2 percent. Even if the figures released by Beijing’s NBS are accurate, they reflect a continuing trend of diminishing rates of growth over the past several years, and are the lowest level of GDP growth in 24 years.

But are the official figures on China’s GDP growth believable? Many elements of China’s macroeconomic performance are shrouded in opacity. The architecture of this vast economy  is formulated from a fundamentally contradictory hybrid mix of private sector capitalism and still overwhelming and largely inefficient state controlled sector, especially in heavy industry. Much of China’s growth in the past, impressive as it seems by overall world standards, was based on massive government spending on underutilized infrastructure; the accounts of entire blocks of apartment buildings that remain unoccupied are well known. There are the dangerous property bubbles, early signs of deflation, and rising debt levels in both the public and private arenas, with growing signs of a future explosion in bad debts held by Chinese financial institutions.

Officially, China’s leadership has resorted to what they call the “new normal,” a more sustainable rate of economic growth. The reality is likely a lot more murkier and volatile than the official statistics and pronouncements would indicate.

The clear trend of diminishing rates of GDP growth in China, whether extrapolated from official figures or derived from a more nuanced assessments of China’s economic performance, are already having an effect on the entire global economy. As with the United States, the massive size of the Chinese economy means that lower GDP growth rates create a head wind for the global economy as a whole. It is therefore no surprise that the International Monetary Fund has just revised its forecast of global economic growth downward by the most substantial margin in three years, to 3.5 percent from the 3.8 percent projected only  three months ago by the IMF (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2015/NEW012015A.htm). This is a harbinger of what lies in store for the global economy as the formerly massive rates of Chinese economic expansion continue to recede.

 

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Barack Obama, Missing In Action

January 13th, 2015 Comments off

“Showing up is 80 percent of life.”

-Woody Allen

 

It was the non-presence that reverberated around the world. The largest demonstration to be held in the history of Paris, drawing 1.5 million participants in response to the Jihadist attacks in the French capital, was led by a phalanx of world leaders. Standing alongside French President Francois Hollande was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and a host of other prominent heads of state and government, representative of America’s closest and most engaged allies in the global struggle that has come to define the opening decades of the 21st century.  But not the head of state of the United States.

Neither Present Obama, nor Vice President Biden, nor Secretary of State Kerry saw fit to be present in this symbolically iconic march of unity. True, the lame duck Attorney General, Eric Holder was in Paris, ostensibly for meetings related to the recent terror attacks in the capital of America’s oldest ally. Yet, even he chose to be absent at the rally that so galvanized the rest of the world. In contrast, even Russia, at the nadir of its relationship with the European Union over the crisis in Ukraine, dispatched Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to participate in the rally.

The absence of Barack Obama or any other senior official from his administration on January 11 in Paris is so inexplicable, even the president’s most steadfast defenders are aghast. What rationale can possibly be proffered in defense of so counter-intuitive a non-action?

Undoubtedly, President Obama was acting on the “advice” of his senior national security team, the same clique of sages that counseled Obama to deny the Syrian opposition military assistance on the premise that they were only “pharmacists and doctors” (http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/sep/14/michael-hayden/former-cia-director-obama-said-syrian-opposition-w/), thus opening the way for Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to fill the vacuum. The same gang of consigliere that suggested a swift withdrawal of American forces from Iraq simultaneous with a declaration that the war was over, ignoring the voices of those that warned of impending disaster, such as departing U.S. ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/22/iraq.withdrawal/). The geniuses that devised a provocative approach towards Russia in Ukraine guaranteed to relaunch the Cold War, on the theory that the United States did not have enough adversaries  to confront in the world.

The President of the United States is not only the chief manager of the Federal government bureaucracy. He is also, since World War II, the leading world statesman. His physical presence, even symbolic, has immense impact on the global stage. When President Kennedy flew to the Western zone in Berlin in June 1963 at a time of growing Cold War tension over the future of that beleaguered outpost of freedom, he intuitively understood that importance in a manner that President Obama apparently does not. Addressing a mass rally in that city, Kennedy proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner!” (I am a Berliner!) Kennedy’s presence and words energized and inspired millions, and was a watershed moment during the Cold War.

How magnificent an opportunity it would have been if President Barack Obama had joined with his peers he is supposedly in alliance with in the confrontation with radical Islam, and proclaimed to the citizens of the French capital, “Je suis un Parisien! ”

Sadly, the man who was elected as the 44th President of the United States largely on the promise that he would inspire the world with his words, offered only the unseen echo of silence.

 

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Oil Prices Continues To Plummet

January 6th, 2015 Comments off

 

The implosion of global oil prices that dominated the last quarter of 2014 will likely set the stage for the major economic news of 2015; the economic destruction wrought by the collapse of petro-economies. With the price per barrel of oil now south of fifty dollars, the stage is set for global economic volatility.

The vast level of price destruction being witnessed globally is only good news in the very short term; lower consumer prices at the pump, and a reduction of fuel expenses for major importers and industrial users of petroleum-based fuels, such as airlines. These short-term benefits will likely be overwhelmed by the fiscal consequences enabled by the implosion of oil prices  that will be faced by economies largely dependent  on oil export income to maintain their balance sheets.

Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela and Russia are among these economies most vulnerable to the collapse in oil prices. Currently, Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela, is hopping the globe in a desperate attempt to save his regime from defaulting on its sovereign debt. Countries facing fiscal disaster owing to the collapse of their major source of export income may resort to desperate measures, which may in turn create collateral ripples that afflict unforeseen damage on the global economy.

 

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Russia Faces Severe Economic Crisis: Putin, Oil and Ukraine

December 31st, 2014 Comments off

A perfect storm has ravaged Russia’s national economy. With the price of oil imploding, the impact of its decline is inflicting devastating pain on the Russian economy. Fiscally , oil and natural gas revenues account for half of the state budget. The fall in oil prices is compounded by economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States and Canada in response to President Putin’s aggressive polices vis a vis Ukraine.

There is nothing Putin can do about oil prices, especially with stagnant global demand and rising domestic production in the United States due to advances in shale extraction technology. However, he could mitigate the economic crisis through a more restrained policy on Ukraine. I doubt that will happen; it appears that in Russia, as with many other countries, nationalism trumps rational economic considerations.

It appears that bleak times are ahead for Moscow, and Russia’s nascent middle class. Just in the past 24 hours, the ruble dropped in value another five percent, all this in the wake of its earlier freefall when oil prices began to plummet. The erratic actions by Russia’s central bank only point to the inability by Russia’s rulers to arrest what will likely be a long-term period of economic recession and stagnation.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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Oil Prices Continue To Contract As OPEC Maintains Production Levels

December 10th, 2014 Comments off

Since mid-June the price per barrel of petroleum has collapsed by a staggering 37 percent. This almost perfectly  mirrors–in reverse- -the steep rise in oil prices  in mid-2008, which was followed by an equally sharp contraction when the Great Recession–the onset of the global economic and financial crisis–struck with full fury.

Only a few years ago, the talk in global investment circles was about the phenomenon of Peak Oil.  However, several factors have converged to precipitate the collapse of oil prices. Not only has the continued slump in the Eurozone  softened global demand for petroleum exports; the production of shale-derived oil in the United States, enabled by cost-effective technological breakthroughs in extraction, has greatly increased the global supply of oil, while dampening demand in the U.S. for oil imports. Furthermore, China’s growing appetite for imported oil has been at least partially retarded by lower rates of economic growth. In addition, OPEC has failed to cut global production, thus maintaining high global output of oil.

Oil remains a volatile commodity. A new crisis in the Middle East, particularly with Iran, could easily spike oil prices. However, if the economic forces that have propelled the downward  pressure on petroleum prices prove stable, the result could very well be fiscal calamity for several oil-dependent economies, particularly those of Venezuela and Iran, and to a slightly lesser degree Russia. Left uncertain is the long-term impact of shale oil extraction in the United States, which requires prices above the cost of extraction, currently in the mid-forty dollars per barrel range, to remain economically viable. With the current per barrel price of oil below 70 dollars, it is not inconceivable that further declines may place the booming shale oil industry in the U.S. in a serious quandary.

The current collapse of oil prices, combined with other negative economic trends, opens up long-term implications that will further upset the already fragile state of the global economy. The short-term befits of lower prices at the gas pump will be likely offset by the worldwide ramifications of shrinking fiscal resources for major oil-exporting emerging economies, which may place financial institutions and investment firms at risk that are highly exposed to debt by sovereigns that are highly reliant on oil exports.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

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