U.S. Economy Stalled In Last Quarter of 2015

January 29th, 2016 Comments off

The revised data released by the Commerce Department indicates that America’s economy expanded by an anemic 0.7 percent in the final quarter of 2015. This level of GDP “growth” is essentially stall speed, indicative of the world’s largest economy being stuck in stagnation, reminiscent of Japan’s  L-shaped recession.

Despite Labor Departed figures that are spun to suggest a robust economy based on artificially low unemployment rates, the GDP data is more reflective of reality; an American economy that is stuck in the mud. And this, despite a recently increased projected deficit for the U.S. federal government of $544 billion for 2016.

Massive deficits combined with a stalled economy that may face a recession as global economic disarray grows will likely impact the upcoming 2016 presidential election, in which it appear more likely now that Donald Trump will challenge Hillary Clinton.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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Oil Price Collapse Signals Global Economic Crisis of 2016 – – Recession Very Likely This Year

January 20th, 2016 Comments off

A floor in the price of oil commodities remains elusive, as Brent Crude  touches 28 dollars per barrel. With expectations of another half-million barrels per day soon to enter the already over-supplied oil market due to the lifting of sanctions on Iran, combined with a slowdown in China’s economy, forces exerting a downward price on oil are strengthening.

The oil price collapse with strangle a large part of America’s shale oil industry, while devastating debt-laden oil exporting countries, with Venezuela in particular  facing default. Inevitably, the implosion in oil prices will hit major financial institutions with exposure to loans connected with either oil exploration and extraction, or sovereigns dependent on oil export income for most of their governmental financing. This all points to the high likelihood of a global recession in 2016.

 

 

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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China Stock Markets Open 2016 With Massive Implosion

January 7th, 2016 Comments off

For the second time in three days, China’s major bourses have had to stop trading in the early part of the trading session due to drastic sell-offs. Automatic circuit breakers suspended trading when the herd-like dumping of shares sent equity prices in a downward spiral at dizzying velocity. The Shanghai Composite Index declined by 7.3 percent; China’s other major stock index, the Shenzhen Index , lost 8.3 percent of its opening value.

During the course of 2015, Chinese stock markets suffered a number of devastating single-session declines, signaling problems with the Chinese economy and their inevitable contagion effect on the overall global economy. As I have noted in an earlier blog article (China Stock Market Crashing and Burning Before Our Eyes  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheldon-filger/china-stock-market-crashi_b_7752054.html ), the increasing instability of the Chinese equity markets will have profound  and highly negative implications for all major economies.

What are the likely implications for global economics in the light of the wobbly beginning for China’s stock markets in the new year? To begin with, the volatile character of China’s equity markets is a signal by investors of their deep anxiety over declining Chinese manufacturing alongside the weakening economy of the Eurozone, the largest single market for Beijing’s exports. It also may be a clear sign that a new global recession may be just around the corner.

There never was a real recovery to the catastrophic global financial and economic crisis that arose in 2008. For seven years, central banks have scaled back interest rates to just about zero, while sovereigns accumulated unprecedented levels of public debt to sustain extremely marginal levels of GDP growth, while the real unemployment rate among the major advanced economies stagnated at historically high levels. In effect, all the arrows in the policymakers’ quiver have been expended, leaving sovereigns virtually unarmed if forced to confront a new global recession.

The rout  in China’s stock markets may be the first signs of an annus horribilis for the global economy, with a virulent and economically devastating continuation of the Great Recession that never really ended. The one difference between 2008 and 2016 will likely stem from the implosion of China’s equity markets, as opposed to the sub-prime mortgage collapse in the United States, being the enabler of fiscal and economic crisis and germ of global contagion. An important distinction between 2016 and 2008, in addition to China replacing the U.S. as the center of gravity in a new global recession, is the international climate. The world is experiencing far more instability, multilateral tension and flashpoints than transpired during the initial period of the last global recession.  Geopolitical volatility converging with China’s stock market crash may lead to a global economic contraction that will exceed 2008 in its ruinous impact.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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U.S Economy Grew At Only Two Percent In Third Quarter of 2015

December 23rd, 2015 Comments off

The U.S. Commerce Department revised slightly downward its already meager assessment of the third quarter of 2015. The updated data reveals that in Q3 the American economy grew at only 2 percent. Overall, the first three quarters of 2015 indicated GDP growth in the United States of two percent. Unless there is an unexpected and massive pickup in Q4, the overall rate of GDP growth  in the U.S. will remain at about 2 percent for 2015.

Marginal growth, far below potential, has been the reality since the “recovery” from America’s Great Recession of 2008, sparked by the global economic and financial crisis. Despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, the “recovery” still only generates a level of subpar growth that is not only counter to previous  recoveries, but is at virtual stall-speed. As the Fed begins to ramp up interest rates after nine years, should another major recession strike the U.S. economy, there are no quivers left in the arsenal of government policy measures.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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U.S. Fed Raises Rates For First Time In Nine Years – -Federal Reserve Ends Zero-Interest Rate Policy

December 17th, 2015 Comments off

With the announcement by the Federal Reserve that it is raising its interest rate by 25 basis points, a policy of virtual zero-interest rates maintained by America’s central bank–and imitated by other central banks worldwide since the global economic and financial crises that arose in 2008–has officially come to an end. The minor rate increase of 0.25 percent is the first time since 2006 that the Fed has upped its benchmark interest rate.

The end of the extraordinary and long-lasting  monetary easing aggressively maintained by the Fed for nine-years thus  comes to an end, the justification being that the policy “worked,” the evidence being a very minor rise on forecasted future GDP growth prospects for the American economy. The decision by the Fed to raise its interest rate has supposedly been priced in by the equity markets for probably the last two years, at least. Nevertheless, the continued weakness in the global economy may provide a lesson in how fragile it really is, once the monetary pump-priming of zero-interest  rates is gone.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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Oil Price Crash Impacts Global Economy & Politics

December 8th, 2015 Comments off

With average oil prices on the global market falling under 40 dollars per barrel, it is clear that the depression in petroleum commodities is not only sustained, but likely to endure into 2016. This is based on projections that oil supply will grow faster than consumer demand. The emergence of post-Iran sanction oil on the market in the coming year assures the oversupply of petroleum.

The collapse in oil prices  is both an indicator of a weak global economy, and the cause of further economic erosion. The economic and fiscal harm the contraction in oil prices has created has also had major political implications in economies highly dependent on the export of carbon-based commodities. The defeat of the conservative government in Canada in the recent national election is directly attributable to a weak Canadian economy,  largely caused by the fall in the value of oil exports from the province of Alberta. Venezuela is another case of political fallout caused by the crash in the global oil market. The socialist regime of President Maduro lost control over the nation’s legislature in the recent elections, again the primary cause due to economic damage resulting from the collapse in oil export earnings.

The projection of continuing weakness in the global oil market will undoubtedly create further political instability in economies highly dependent on oil exports.

 

 

 

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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Turkey Attacks Russia: Sarajevo 2015?

November 26th, 2015 Comments off

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey, may at present be the most dangerous man on our planet. Renowned as a brilliant politician domestically, who skillfully manipulates Turkish public opinion for electoral gains, he has also established a reputation for shooting from the mouth without much forethought when it comes to foreign affairs. On November 24, 2015 Erdogan went beyond words, authorizing his air force to take down a Russian fighter jet.

While some of the facts regarding the shootdown of the Russian Air Force SU-24 remain in contention between Turkey and Russia, what has emerged  is deeply disturbing. Even Turkey admits that the Russian aircraft was in its airspace for a mere seventeen seconds.  American authorities have informed various news agencies that the SU-24 was  in Turkish skies for only a few seconds, and was actually flying over Syria when it was destroyed by a missile fired by a Turkish fighter. These facts would seem to confirm the allegation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the shootdown of the SU-24 was premeditated. In other words, President Erdogan had apparently ordered his country’s air force to destroy a Russian military aircraft as soon as a pretext emerged. An overflight that may have occurred over Turkish air space for a few seconds provided that pretext.

If Erdogan sought to destroy a Russian aircraft, for what purpose would he have engaged in such a dangerously brazen escalation of the already explosive reality that is the failed and disintegrating state of Syria?

The Turkish president maintains that Russia’s claim that it is fighting ISIS is a canard, and that Moscow is primarily targeting the “moderate” opposition to Assad, which Turkey supports. Until the bombing of a Russian airliner over Sinai, that was certainly true. However, after the Metrojet plane was destroyed over the Sinai desert, Russia began shifting its bombing campaign towards the Islamic State. Furthermore, Turkey has been playing the same game, under Erdogan’s instructions. Also claiming to be fighting ISIS in Syria, the Turkish Air Force has actually conducted far fewer  air strikes on the Islamic State than Moscow’s air force. Instead, Turkish aircraft have primarily targeted the Kurdish militias in Syria, the same force that has been the most effective opposition to ISIS in northern Syria. Erdogan is much more interested in preventing the Kurds from achieving any form of sovereignty in the Middle East than in confronting the Islamic State.

The most likely explanation for Erdogan’s astonishing decision to launch an attack on a Russian aircraft was to thwart and strangle at birth the nascent indications of a possible grand coalition being formed to combat ISIS, involving the United States, France and Russia. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and the destruction of the Russian airliner in Egypt, French President Hollande saw a rare opportunity to bring together those three countries in facing a common danger. It must be noted that the Turks downed the Russian warplane on the same day Hollande was in Washington, meeting with President Obama prior to a follow-up meeting with Putin. The shootdown of the SU-24 probably has doomed President Hollande’s vision of a grand alliance working together in fighting the Islamic State.

Irrespective of Erdogan’s immediate objective, his reckless decision has perhaps put the entire planet on the path towards an unintended but potentially devastating war. President Putin will be forced to act  in some form, not only due to his own personal feelings. No matter how cool-headed and cautiously he may intend  to respond to the Turkish attack, he is not immune to Russian public opinion. Not only the shootdown, but the barbaric murder of one of the parachuting Russian pilots by Turkey’s allies in Syria–an act that is in clear violation of the Geneva Convention–will inevitably stimulate great indignation among the Russian people.

In 1914 renegade elements in a foreign intelligence service orchestrated the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo. In the weeks that followed, miscalculations intersected with a system of military alliances that put the world on the path to world war. Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Erdogan has already called on NATO for full support in the face of possible future Russian military countermeasures in response  to the destruction of the SU-24. Alarmingly, President Obama has already expressed public support for Turkey’s right to defend its airspace.

Before Turkey’s recklessly irresponsible leader drags the United States into an unintended military confrontation with Russia over events in Syria, President Obama should reconsider his blanket support for Turkey’s belligerent and brazen acts of violence against Moscow, and make clear that the United States–and NATO–will not be dragged into a conflict with Moscow over Erdogan’s dangerous adventurism.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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Bloodbath In Paris: ISIS Ramps Up Its Global War

November 15th, 2015 Comments off

By Allah, we will take revenge!

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

 

 

The attack by battle-hardened jihadists in the French capital on Friday, November 13, 2015 was not the first time terrorism directed at the residents of Paris had occurred. Yet, even in a large metropolis that has experienced urban terrorism with North African and Middle East connections many times before, there was an unprecedented ruthless efficiency  in the barbarism unleashed  on undefended soft targets and the resulting mass carnage. In its impact, the attack on Paris will likely be compared to 9/11 in the United States and 7/7 in London.

The Islamic State, aka ISIS, has taken credit for the mass killings in the French capital. Should the claim by ISIS be proven accurate, it marks a grave–but not unpredicted–escalation in the global jihad being waged by the Islamic State against an enemy it has defined as essentially the entire world that lies outside the boundaries of the nascent caliphate. In the summer of 2014, shortly after the armies of the Islamic State had begun their territorial grab in Iraq and conquered Mosul, the second largest city in that war-torn country, the self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivered a sermon in that town’s  Great Al-Nuri Mosque.  The essence of his proclamation was that the formation of the caliphate was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, which he stated without a trace of ambiguity was perpetual jihad–holy war– against the non-Islamic world. His prose was stark and uncompromising, and for those who listened, al-Baghdadi made clear his intention of utilizing the ever-expanding Islamic State as a platform for unleashing vengeance upon the non-Islamic world.  The appalling slaughter in Paris followed by only two weeks the destruction of a Russian Metrojet airliner over the Sinai desert, which ISIS has proudly claimed responsibility for–and a growing body of expert analysis tends to confirm the connection, which killed 224 passengers and crew. The day before the Paris atrocity, suicide bombs detonated in a largely Shiite neighborhood in Beirut killed 43. Again, the Islamic State identified itself as the force behind the attack.

The French president, Francois Hollande, described the jihadist attack on Paris as an act of war committed by ISIS. For the first time, a Western leader appears to understand that the Islamic State is not a traditional non-state actor engaging in terrorism, but an actual state entity conducting warfare, asymmetrical in character, but with a clear strategic focus. Will President Hollande, along  with President Obama, draw the proper conclusions? Unfortunately, the past year and a half since the emergence of the Islamic State as a regional and now global actor does not give rise to optimism. The U.S. president, in particular, has displayed indecisiveness and a lack of clarity in confronting the challenge of the Islamic State.

Obama, however, is not alone. The Russian president, Putin, has been equally lacking in leadership. While boasting that his military intervention in Syria’s civil war is for the purpose of fighting ISIS, Putin has been using the Islamic State threat as cover for supporting the Assad dictatorship and its Iranian Shiite allies, in the process facilitating support for the Islamic State by Sunni Muslims in the Arab world, who increasingly look upon ISIS as the only force that can protect them against their perceived enemies, especially Iran and “infidel” foreigners conducting air raids on their lands.

In contrast with the confusion and strategic incoherence among his enemies stands the caliph of the Islamic State. However barbarically inhumane he may be, al-Baghdadi is not incoherent in relation to his long-term objective and the tactical and operational means required for its attainment. He wants the world outside the caliphate, including moderate Arab countries, to be struck down with massive social, political and economic chaos. Mass casualty attacks on the civil population of his perceived enemies are the method. The likelihood, in the absence of  coherent and strong leadership in the target nations, are future attacks that unfortunately will dwarf the bloodbath in Paris in their murderous impact.

 

 

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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U.S. Economy Hits The Brakes in Third Quarter

October 31st, 2015 Comments off

The U.S. Commerce Department has released GDP growth figures for Q3, and they are not pretty, After a much trumpeted growth figure of 3.9 percent in Q2, the American economy grew only by a lackluster 1.5 percent rate in the third quarter of 2015. This is essentially stall speed, and far below the nation’s economic potential.

The poor GDP data is undoubtedly another excuse that the Federal Reserve will use to continue its indefinite delay in normalizing (meaning raising) interest rates. Monetary policy continues to be the essential life support the U.S. and wider global economy has depended on since the global economic and financial crisis erupted in 2008. Seven years later, the world-and especially the United States-requires money printing to goose up the GDP growth data, with a diminishing level of success.

 

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

 

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DONALD J.TRUMP

October 22nd, 2015 Comments off

When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy for president of the United States in the 2016 general election, he was immediately dismissed by political pundits and media commentators as a publicity-seeking billionaire, with no chance of ever entering the White House as the nation’s chief executive. The summer of 2015, which would become known as the “Summer of Trump,” would prove them all wrong. With the slogan MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN and urging voters to board the TRUMP TRAIN, real estate mogul would quickly emerge as the GOP frontrunner, sowing panic in the ranks of the Republican Party. establishment.

Why did the media experts and political consultants fail so conspicuously in reading the political landscape in America? How was Donald Trump able to connect so effectively with a large part of the electorate? Can Trump win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, and prevail in the general election? If Donald Trump is elected America’s 45th president, can he implement his agenda, and how effective a president would he be?

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? offers an objective look at the state of American presidential politics and Donald Trump the candidate. Sheldon Filger provides a fresh perspective on the Trump presidential campaign, avoiding the partisan stereotypes that typically dominate any discussion of Trump and the 2016 presidential election. The author presents the case that America is undergoing a radical revolution in political affairs, and the Trump phenomenon is an inseparable outcome stemming from the growing alienation and disaffection Americans harbor toward the nation’s political elites.

The presidential campaign of Trump has stumped the GOP establishment, with the ‪#Republican Party in near shock over the radical revolution occurring in American presidential politics. The slogans MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN ‪and  TRUMP TRAIN have overwhelmed traditional Republicans. So have Trump’s policy positions, including immigration, taxes, trade and the economy.

In his analysis of Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential election, Sheldon Filger provides the reader with an opportunity to view the real estate mogul’s ascent in political viability within a broader context of national malaise, and crisis within the body politic. DONALD TRUMP 2016:America’s Next President? not only explores the vices and virtues of the celebrity candidate running for president; the book is also an indictment of a political culture that across the land, but especially in Washington DC, has evolved into a dysfunctional failure.

DONALD TRUMP 2016: America’s Next President? is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/DONALD-TRUMP-2016-Americ…/…/B0156PAAVM

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