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Monday, December 5, 2016

Weapons Industry: Global arms sales in 2015 reached €348 billion with US share €225.47 or 80% of total reports SIPRI

Global weapons industry sales reached  €348 billion in 2015
Arms sales went on a downward slide last year, falling by 0.6 percent compared to 2014, according to the latest analysis on the global arms industry by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The trade had been experiencing a downward trend since 2011, but the reduction in arms sales last year showed that the pace of decline had slowed.

Despite the decrease, arms sales for the world's top 100 companies in 2015 reached $370.7 billion (348 billion euros), the think tank said in its study, indicating that the sinking numbers were no sign that the world was getting more peaceful.

"It [arms sales] has decreased, but it is still over a third higher than it used to be in the early 2000s," Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI arms and military expenditure program, told DW. "It is slowing down, possibly indicating a reversal of the trend since 2010. So it is difficult to say at this stage …

There are contradictory trends all over the world and it is difficult to identify a clear trend so far," she added.

US firms remain on top of the arms sales industry.

Companies based in the US dominated the arms business, with total sales amounting to $209.7 billion (€225.47 Billion) , or more than 80 percent of the total arms business in the world. Lockheed Martin maintained its position as the largest arms producer on the planet.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

EU: ECB caught in monetary policy maelstrom

The European Central Bank (ECB) has done everything in its power to fuel inflation and boost economic growth, but has had limited success. Now, risks and side effects are becoming more evident.

During the height of the euro crisis in the summer of 2012, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi pledged he would save the euro "whatever it takes." His rhetoric abruptly quieted down financial speculation against several eurozone member states.

Thereafter, the ECB cut interest rates until its key refinancing rate hit zero percent this spring. In addition, commercial banks holding money with the ECB are being punished with a negative deposit rate. Moreover, the central bank supports struggling banks with emergency loans and free credit. After all, the ECB has launched a massive asset-buying program, also known as Quantitative Easing (QE) in the spring of 2015, meaning the bank acquires government and company debts at large scale, thus effectively printing and circulating more and more money.

Not surprisingly, Draghi appears happy with his extremely accomodative monetary policy. After all, inflation, credit volume and economic growth have all been on the rise in the eurozone, if only modestly. But take a closer look and it's hard to share Draghi's optimism. The return of inflation at very low levels - the last number was 0.5 percent - can be primarily traced back to rebounding price of crude oil and groceries.

By contrast, eurozone members fiscal policies have had precious little little effect on those mark-ups. The gush of newly-minted euros, instead, is keeping "zombie banks" and "zombi companies" artificially alive, as it fails to kickstart anemic growth in the euro currency area..

It isn't entirely speculative, therefore, that the ECB's monetary policy is part of the problem, not the solution. Deutsche Bank economist Stefan Schneider told DW that the willingness of eurozone governments to reform their economies has "markedly dropped after Draghi's whatever-it-takes announcement, especially in countries at the bloc's southern periphery" - a fact that has also been substantiated by OECD analyses, he adds.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that higher interest rates before the 2012 debt crisis, had forced governments of crisis states to implement more than half of OECD's recommended growth initiatives. Last year, however, this share dropped to below 20 percent. This shouldn't come as a surprise: Draghi's promise, in conjunction with the bond purchase program, has minimized the difference in interest rates between German sovereign debt and those of crisis-hit states in the south of Europe. Without psychological strains, it is doubtful that politicians will go through with unpopular reforms when there is no fiscal pressure.

Read more: ECB caught in monetary policy maelstrom | NRS-Import | DW.COM | 02.12.2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saudis Brace for Bankruptcy, Bring Dramatic Measures to Public Sector

A two-year drop in oil prices has inflicted a dramatic blow to the economy of one of the world’s richest countries. If no changes are made, Saudi Arabia, according to some Saudi experts, will go bankrupt in three to four years.

Since 90 percent of the kingdom's income is derived from oil exports, the price drop, from over $110 per barrel in mid 2014 to a low of just over $30 recently, is a disaster, as national monetary reserves are depleted at a  breathtaking rate.

In 2015, Saudi foreign reserves were estimated at $654.5 billion, after the Saudi monetary agency lost almost $73 billion following the oil price drop, according to a 2015 Al Jazeera report. The monetary agency also withdrew some $70 billion managed by overseas financial institutions, and the state budget deficit that year was estimated at $98 billion.

This year's budget deficit is expected to be only slightly smaller. Riyadh, in an unprecedented move, offered its first international bond sale last week, worth $17.5 billion, to bring in additional much-needed cash.

Read more{ Saudis Brace for Bankruptcy, Bring Dramatic Measures to Public Sect

Friday, December 2, 2016

Russia sets out its policy on terrorism, nuclear war & global ties in new Foreign Policy Concept

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree approving Russia's new Foreign Policy Concept.

The document specifies Moscow's position on key global issues, highlighting its relations with the US, EU, China and other countries.

Published on Thursday, the concept is now in force, replacing the previous one from 2013. Moscow's "views on core principles, priority directions, aims and tasks of the Russian foreign policy" are stated in the document of almost 40 pages.

Putin: We won’t allow infringement of Russia’s rights, will decide our own fate Saying that Russia pursues an independent foreign policy based both on national interests and respect for international law, the concept states that Moscow's policy is "open, foreseeable" and "shaped by centuries" of Russia's historic role in the development of global civilization.

"Russia is fully aware of its special responsibility for maintaining security in the world both on global and regional levels, and is aimed at cooperative actions with all concerned states in the interest to solve common issues," the document says.

Moscow calls for "creation of a broad international anti-terrorist coalition, firmly based on a legal framework, and effective and systematic cooperation among states," the document says. No "double standards" should have a place in such a coalition, which should become the main force to fight global terrorism.

Read more: Russia sets out its policy on terrorism, nuclear war & global ties in new Foreign Policy Concept — RT News

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In Scotland, Trump Built a Wall. Then He Sent Residents the Bill - K. Bennhold

President-elect Donald J. Trump has already built a wall — not on the border with Mexico, but on the border of his exclusive golf course in northeastern Scotland, blocking the sea view of local residents who refused to sell their homes.

And then he sent them the bill.

David and Moira Milne had already been threatened with legal action by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who claimed a corner of their garage belonged to him, when they came home from work one day to find his staff building a fence around their garden. Two rows of grown trees went up next, blocking the view. Their water and electricity lines were temporarily cut. And then a bill for about $3,500 arrived in the mail, which, Mr. Milne said, went straight into the trash.

Read more: In Scotland, Trump Built a Wall. Then He Sent Residents the Bill. - The New York Times

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

European Defence Union: EU needs own independent military power and leave NATO and Middle East mess

European Defence Force
Daniel Mützel writesin "The EU is stepping up its efforts on common defence policy and a “coalition of the willing” could quickly deploy EU troops and promote common defence projects. EurActiv Germany reports.

How under threat is Europe? The question has worried European security policy lawmakers for some time and the events of 2016 have escalated concerns.

Back in June, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini presented her Global Strategy, which called for an EU-wide integrated security community to tackle instability on Europe’s doorstep.

Another white paper produced by the German and French foreign ministers a few months later warned against an “erosion” of the EU and called for stronger military cooperation between member states".

Many people feel that NATO has in fact outlived its purpose of a combined US - European Defence force to protect Europe during the cold war. Instead NATO has dragged most if not all of its European member states into costly US "military advetures" in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which all have been basically total failures and created an incredible Refugees problem for both the EU and Turkey.

As to the present military situation in Syria and the NATO's effectiveness there, one can only qualify that as a total disaster.
A report recently discussed in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee shows how far Brussels has moved forward with the idea.

Hardly any other EU document better describes how the perception of European security politicians has changed in reaction to global events.

It alleges that the EU is now “surrounded by an arc of instability”, which includes “terrorism, massive refugee flows, or disinformation campaigns”.

The report also adds that since international relations are now dominated by power politics again, “defence and deterrence capabilities” are crucial when it comes to diplomacy. It concludes that the EU has to use its “unrivalled soft power with hard power.