The momentum developing since Abbas’ UN speech

Despite the mixed signals kicked up by Israel’s denials and manoeuvrings since Abbas’ UN speech, the momentum is going Abbas’ way.

Makarim Wibisono, UN Special rapporteur on Palestine, says in his press release on Gaza 29/09/2014 that Israeli actions in Gaza “raise serious questions about possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

On this open link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15118&LangID=E

Meanwhile, the US State department takes issue with Netanyahu’s UN speech, in particular in regard to his attack on UNHRC, and the questioning at the press conference went as follows:

“QUESTION: Hold on. I’ve just got one more. The other thing is that he (Netanyahu) was quite critical of the UN system in general, but in particular of the UN Human Rights Commission. You have also been critical of the UN Human Rights Commission, but he went so far as to call it – say that what it’s doing is akin to – it should be – it might as well be called the “UN Terrorist Commission.” Would you agree with that?

MS. PSAKI: We would not agree with that. We have obviously voiced concerns when we have them about actions that are taken, but no, we would certainly not agree with that characterization”.

On this open link: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/09/232247.htm#ISRAEL

Cambridge University dons are up there with the just

Statement by academics at the University of Cambridge

This statement comes from academics at the University of Cambridge, from a range of
disciplines, and from a range of political, religious and cultural backgrounds. We believe that we
have a responsibility – whether as practitioners of our various subjects, as employees of this
University, as academics, or just as human beings – to speak out against the recent actions and
posture of the Israeli state.

After more than a month of bombardment by Israel, over 2,000 Palestinians are dead, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. This includes 514 children by the last count, a figure which is almost certain to rise as survivors sift through the wreckage. Entire families have been wiped out. Five Israeli civilians, including one child, and 64 soldiers have died. Gazans have seen their cities reduced to rubble yet again, their infrastructure devastated, with many hospitals, schools, factories and electric plants targeted and destroyed. Israel has destroyed at least 17,000 residential buildings, leaving a significant proportion of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians homeless. These events occur against the background of decades of Israeli occupation and illegal expansion – and we note that in the last few weeks, with the world’s attention temporarily focused on Gaza, the West Bank has seen a surge of settlement-building. It is this context, as well as the unmistakeable asymmetry of power between the two sides in this ‘conflict’, which makes it so disingenuous to accuse critics of ‘singling Israel out’. As many have persuasively argued over the last few weeks, it is Israel that singles itself out: through its claims to moral impeccability, its celebrated status as a democracy, through its receipt of massive support from the US and other nations, and through its abuse of the memory of the holocaust in order to deflect criticism and to discredit the Palestinian struggle – on this point, we wish to express our solidarity with the more than 300 holocaust survivors and their descendants who have recently called on the world to take action to stop Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

In our professional capacities as academics, we may emphasise different aspects of the history and current situation between Israel and Palestine. The lawyers among us may point out that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal under international law; that despite the 2005 withdrawal of troops from the Gaza strip, the area is still recognised by the UN as occupied territory, due to Israel’s control of the borders and surrounding land, sea and air space; and that there is no legal right of ‘self-defence’ by an occupying power against the people under its occupation. Philosophers and political theorists among us may emphasise the moral hypocrisy in the apologism for Israel’s crimes, and the distortions involved in the attempt to discredit or silence criticism. Historians may insist that the recent events in Gaza can only be properly understood and evaluated as part of a long trajectory of colonial occupation: the building and continual expansion of settlements (and the theft of land and resources that this entails); the expulsion of Palestinian inhabitants of historic Palestine (beginning with the displacement of hundreds of thousands in the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, and culminating in the current situation in which millions of Palestinian refugees and their immediate descendants are scattered around the globe); and the increasingly violent and discriminatory treatment of those Palestinians who remain in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in Israel itself.

We, the undersigned, differ not only in our fields of specialism, but no doubt also in our particular analyses of the history of Israel and Palestine, the significance of current and past events, and the most appropriate resolution of the situation. Such differences notwithstanding, we are united on several points: First, we wish to add our voices to those of the Palestinian resistance in appealing for an immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Beyond this most urgent demand, we also believe that no satisfactory end to this on-going humanitarian crisis can be achieved without the realisation of a more far-reaching justice for the Palestinian people, including the displaced refugees, and at the same time the realisation of a situation in which the inhabitants of historic Palestine, whatever their ethnicity, religion, or culture, whether they now live as Palestinians or as Israelis, are able to coexist under conditions of meaningful freedom and equality – equality of civic status, of respect, and of access to land and resources. We believe that a radical change is needed in order to achieve this, and that whatever the substance of this change, it cannot happen without an end to the violence perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians, an end to the siege of Gaza and to the occupation, and an end to the discriminatory and dehumanising treatment of Palestinian citizens within Israel. Finally, as academics, we are concerned by the recent instances of victimisation of students and lecturers, inside and outside of Israel, for speaking out on this issue. We demand an end to the persecution of critics of Israel within academia, and pledge to lend our support to those targeted.

Lift the blockade. End the killing. Justice for the Palestinian people.

28/09/2014

To add your name send an email to campalestinestatement@gmail.com

Signed:

1. Dr Maha Abdelrahman, Centre of Development Studies
2. Dr Anne Alexander, CRASSH
3. Prof Ash Amin, Department of Geography
4. Dr Alexander Anievas, Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)
5. Dr Nikos Bamiedakis, Engineering Department
6. Prof Zygmunt Baranski, Department of Italian (emeritus)
7. Dr Deborah Bowman, Gonville & Caius College / Faculty of English
8. Dr Adam Caulton, Faculty of Philosophy
9. Dr Hero Chalmers, Fitzwilliam College / Faculty of English
10. Jean Chothia, Selwyn College / Faculty of English
11. Mr Tim Cribb, Churchill College / Faculty of English (emeritus)
12. Prof Brad Epps, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
13. Dr Lorna Finlayson, King’s College / Faculty of Philosophy
14. Prof Raymond Geuss, Faculty of Philosophy (emeritus)
15. Dr Hadi Godazgar, King’s College / Dept of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
16. Dr Mahdi Godazgar, King’s College / Dept of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
17. Mr Martin Golding, Peterhouse College / Faculty of English
18. Prof Raymond E. Goldstein, Dept of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
19. Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Faculty of English
20. Dr Mia Gray, Department of Geography
21. Dr Boris Groisman, Sidney Sussex College / Dept of Applied Math. and Theoretical Physics
22. Dr Rachael Harris, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
23. Dr Adam Higazi, King’s College / Centre of African Studies
24. Dr Edward Holberton, Girton College / Faculty of English
25. Dr Michael Hrebeniak, Wolfson College / Faculty of English
26. Prof Mary Jacobus, Faculty of English (emerita)
27. Dr Ian James, Department of French
28. Mr Aylmer Johnson, Department of Engineering
29. Dr Dominic Keown, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
30. Dr Malachi McIntosh, Faculty of English
31. Prof Clément Mouhot, Centre for Mathematical Sciences
32. Dr Simon Hendeles Layton, Faculty of History
33. Dr Subha Mukherji, Faculty of English
34. Dr Kamal Munir, Judge Business School
35. Dr Basim Musallam, King’s College
36. Dr David Nally, Department of Geography
37. Dr Eva Nanopoulos, King’s College / Faculty of Law
38. Dr Rory O’Bryen, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
39. Dr Ian Patterson, Queens’ College / Faculty of English
40. Dr Adriana I. Pesci, Downing College / Dept of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
41. Dr Surabhi Ranganathan, King’s College / Faculty of Law
42. Prof James Russell, Department of Psychology
43. Peter Sparks, Girton College / Department of Architecture (emeritus)
44. Dr Suchitra Sebastian, King’s College / Department of Physics
45. Dr Jason Scott-Warren, Faculty of English
46. Dr Deborah Thom, Robinson College / Department of History and HSPS
47. Ms Isobel Urquhart, Homerton College
48. Dr Bert Vaux, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
49. Dr Jennifer Wallace, Peterhouse College / Faculty of English
50. Dr Chris Warnes, Faculty of English / Centre of African Studies
51. Dr Jessica Wheeler, Department of Psychiatry
52. Dr Ian Willis, Department of Geography
53. Dr Ross Wilson, Trinity College / Faculty of English
54. Dr Waseem Yaqoob, Pembroke College / PPSIS
55. Dr Andrew Zurcher, Queens’ College / Faculty of English

The fall of Hatoyama and why Japan eventually caught Abemania

…. let this sink in: Washington managed, without the use of violence, to manipulate the Japanese political system into discarding a reformist cabinet. The party that had intended to begin clearing up dysfunctional political habits that had evolved over half a century of one-party rule lost its balance and bearings, and never recovered. Hatoyama’s successor, Kan Naoto, did not want the same thing happening to him, and distantiated himself from the foreign policy reformists, and his successor in turn, Yoshihiko Noda, helped realign Japan’s bureaucracy precisely to that of the United States where roughly it had been for half a century. By calling for an unnecessary election, which everyone knew the DPJ would lose, he brought the American-blessed LDP back to power to have Japan slide back into its normal client state condition..

Read Karel Van Wolferen’s spectacular piece by opening link

http://www.unz.com/article/the-american-world-empire-japan-as-a-vassal-state/

 

 

Fatah says that Abbas, after the UN speech, is on his way to sign the Rome Treaty regarding the ICC

Husam Zomlot, a senior foreign affairs advisor for Fatah, insists that it is just a matter of time, but that Mahmoud Abbas needed to go to the UN first to establish the overall point about the non-acceptability of the continuation of the occupation. See al-Jazeera discussion by opening link:

http://www.aljazeera.net/programs/behindthenews/2014/9/28/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84

Joint Letter to President Abbas on the International Criminal Court

Dear President Abbas,

We, the undersigned Palestinian and international human rights organizations, write to urge you to ensure that Palestine pursues the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by promptly acceding to the Rome Statute and/or filing a further declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on Palestinian territory from 1 July 2002.

Taking such steps could ensure access to international justice for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Palestinian territories, and would send an important message that such crimes cannot be committed with impunity.

As you know, following the UN General Assembly’s decision in November 2012 to upgrade Palestine’s status to “non-member observer state”, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor stated that the decision “does not cure the legal invalidity of [Palestine's] 2009 declaration” which accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over acts committed on its territory since 1 July 2002, and that “at this stage, the Office has no legal basis to open a new preliminary examination.”

The Office stated that it is, therefore, not in a position to consider allegations of serious crimes committed in Palestine without further steps by your government. On this basis, the current ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has said that “the ball is now in the court of Palestine” to seek the court’s jurisdiction.

We understand the pressure that Palestine is under from Israel and the United States not to pursue the jurisdiction of the ICC, whether during or after the current US-sponsored negotiations with Israel.  We are aware that even countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada, which are states parties to the ICC treaty and purport to seek its universal ratification, have, at times, opposed Palestine seeking access to the ICC.

We oppose these efforts to politicize justice for victims of serious crimes under international law, and urge you to resist them.  Justice is an important end in its own right, preserving the rights of victims and affected communities regardless of the uncertain prospects for peace.  The commission of war crimes with impunity has regularly undermined the peace process. A credible prosecution threat would help to advance the cause of peace.

Palestine’s accession in April to 20 international treaties and conventions was a significant and positive step, obliging the Palestinian government to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, and requiring Palestinian forces to abide by international rules on armed conflict. Accession to the Rome Statute would be a vital further step towards protecting human rights by ensuring that the ICC can step in to address impunity when domestic authorities are genuinely unable or unwilling to do so.

Seeking the ICC’s jurisdiction over serious crimes committed on Palestinian territory should therefore be seen as an apolitical step towards ending impunity and could help deter future abuses.

The ICC represents an important tool for justice and effective remedies for victims. We urge you to seize it without any further delay.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sahar Francis, Executive Director: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Khalil Abu Shammala, Executive Director: Al Dameer Association for Human Rights

Shawan Jabarin, General Director: Al-Haq

Issam Younis, General Director: Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Munir Nuseibah, Director: Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic

Salil Shetty, Secretary General: Amnesty International

Nidal Azza, Director: Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Rifat Kassis, Director: Defense for Children International – Palestine

Shawqi Issa, Director: Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy

Ken Roth, Executive Director: Human Rights Watch

Helmi al-Araj, General Director: Hurryyat Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights

Said Benarbia, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme: International Commission of Jurists

Karim Lahidji, President: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Issam Aruri, Director: Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center

Raji Sourani, Director: Palestinian Center for Human Rights

Iyad Barghouti, Director: Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies

Maha Abu Dayyeh, General Director: Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling

Mahmoud Abbas finally gets it together representing a united Palestine at the UN

As of 25th September then, Fatah and Hamas and all Palestinian factions have finalised a unity government deal which has handed over control of the Gaza strip to Mahmoud Abbas’ government. Open link to read more:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/fatah-hamas-palestinian-unity-government-gaza

Then Abbas’ 26th September speech at the UN intentionally ran roughshod over all US pretensions, calling any return to negotiations “naïve at best,” and soliciting a response by the US of the speech as ‘offensive’, ‘provocative’, and ‘counter-productive’, when it launched from the first minutes into a description of Israeli activity in Gaza as ‘genocide’. What is clear is that US policy of eschewing diplomacy worldwide in favour of military action in all cases, has made it unable to distinguish when a counterparty sees nothing at all to gain from continuing a failed relationship, and everything to lose. How can calling a spade a spade ever be counter-productive? This is sheer lunacy and clear indication that the Washington foreign policy establishment has descended into incoherence, if not insanity. Gaza was devastatingly and unilaterally bombed with advanced weaponry, killing and wounding thousands. For the Washington of today this is now seemingly classified as a friendly move.

Abbas called on the United Nations Security Council to press for a specific deadline to end Israeli occupation. He knows the US will scupper this, but that’s part of the plan. His persistence in asking the UN to accept Palestine as a state in 2012, bodes well for the unfolding of the remainder of his plan, as has been detailed in earlier posts. Open link: http://different-traditions.com/?p=1914

“It is impossible and I repeat — it is impossible — to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question,” Abbas said visibly enraged. Open link to see the video: http://nyti.ms/1rqWcX4

Obama has “degraded and destroyed” US foreign policy

Andrew J. Bacevich writes on Reuters Op-ed: “Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing”.

open link to The Intercept and read about a revolution (albeit maybe short-lived) in US corporate media:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/11/news-organizations-finally-realize-obamas-war-plan-messed/

 

Palestine going to the ICC

In a previous post, we reviewed the pros and cons of going to the International Criminal Court and we concluded that apart from the fact that redress for the Palestinians against Israeli war crimes was possible through other avenues, the ICC was politicised and under the influence of UNSC (United Nations Security Council) with all the problems that that entails.

See link

http://different-traditions.com/?p=1758

However, Michael Ratner, President Emeritus for the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York and Chair of the European Centre of Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, argues that the crimes in particular of the ongoing expulsion of Palestinians from their lands, and their forcible acquisition to build illegal settlements is a war crime so egregious as to make almost impossible for the ICC not to consider ruling favourably in this respect

Open link:

This is in fact what Taher al-Nunu, a member of a panel discussing this subject on al-Jazeera, confirms on the following link:

http://www.aljazeera.net/programs/behindthenews/2014/9/11/%D9%87%D9%84-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%8A%D9%82-%D8%A8%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%85-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A7

Japan at the centre of the unfolding financial crash

Japan came out of a nuclear attack in WWII to become a massive economy, the third largest economy after the US and China, almost twice as large as Germany, and more than twice as large as either France or Germany. But since 1991 Japan has been in recession – called now the “lost twenty years” (失われた20年, Ushinawareta Nijūnen), where GDP and price levels have fallen and where the real wage has dropped. There has been a net population loss due to falling birth rates and almost no net immigration (despite one of the highest life expectancies in the world (81.25 years): so the country is growing old.

The lack of direction and vision in Japanese society is almost frightening: a cultural malaise has seized the nation almost like a nasty viral infection. Young people in Japan are, it seems, no longer in having sex: it is too “Mendokusai”  which translates as “too troublesome” or “I can’t be bothered”, where romantic commitment represents burden and drudgery. This is related to the economic condition of the country in the sense of reflecting an attitude to the exorbitant costs of buying property in Japan and to the uncertain expectations from a potential spouse and the in-laws that come with the spouse. According to the Japanese population institute, women in their early 20s today have a one-in-four chance of never marrying and their chances of remaining childless are even higher at almost 40%. What is shocking about all this is that no-one is concerned. A detailed analysis of this malaise is to be found on:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/20/young-people-japan-stopped-having-sex

Add to this depressing picture the results of the Fukushima catastrophe, a cataclysm caused not so much by the natural disaster that triggered it, but by the incredibly bad planning that led the Japanese bureaucracy to build nuclear power stations on earthquake fault lines, and by the now surprising lack of technical prowess, previously strongly associated with Japanese industry, which became clear in the blind trust the Japanese seemed to have in US General Electric designs and their inability either to understand these designs for themselves or to incorporate their own safety or back-up mechanisms into the construction and development. The unravelling cover-up since the initial disaster is only partly a political damage limitation exercise, and mostly sheer lack of an engineering grasp of nuclear power.

Estimates of the total economic loss from this range from $250-$500 billion. See:

http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1919

and

http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/costs-and-consequences-of-fukushima.html

The Fukushima disaster represents the largest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history, which for a country so dependent on fishing is a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. See:

http://www.irsn.fr/FR/Actualites_presse/Actualites/Documents/IRSN-NI-Impact_accident_Fukushima_sur_milieu_marin_26102011.pdf

All this has lead to the panicky politics of Shinzō Abe which involves a new militarism expressing the country’s malaise and its social and political bankruptcy, as well as quantitative easing on an almost cosmic scale to try and restart a totally moribund economy.

The problem in Japan has always been the lack of flexibility of its society: in fact the whole Fukushima disaster is down to the “untouchable” élitist status of the Nuclear industry represented by TEPCO – the Fukushima operator and holding company for all of Japan’s nuclear power plants. Their ‘untouchability” has in fact led to innumerable cover-ups over the course of the recent disaster, which leaves no doubt that things must be much worse than has been reported, and costs probably much higher than even the worse estimates we have.

So a major part of the Western economic system has terminally failed is being propped up by the rest of the system, while beginning to drag it down. How did we get here? How have we come to have such a disastrous economic situation which seems to have impacted society to the extent of even negatively affecting the younger generation’s normal drives and values.

From the government led 30-year drive to rebuild the Japanese economy from the complete devastation of WWII until 1980, the country public debt had reached only 50% of GDP by the end of that period.  By contrast, today’s public debt in Japan is 250% of GDP, a figure “off-the-charts” relative to all other large developed economies, unparalleled in history, and generated by massive deficit spending, followed by its modern cousin, quantitative easing.

These outcomes have to be viewed from the perspective that Japan’s post-war miracle was never the miracle it was claimed to be at all: in fact the Japanese economy rebounded from the ashes of WWII for three decades due only to massive public and private investment, depending on high household savings, and a rigid mercantilist industrial development and export promotion policy, depending on blatantly protectionist policies that kept imports out and the yen’s exchange rate far below its true economic value.

As David Stockman explains on:

http://wolfstreet.com/2014/08/17/japans-fiscal-demise-a-cautionary-tale-for-our-times/

Neither of these aspects was sustainable, leading to a capital goods and export sectors which were enormously over-built, and the double-digit growth in fixed asset investment which had powered Japan’s post-war GDP growth was inevitably destined for a sharp fall. A counter-protectionist reaction in Washington would bring this to an end, such that the drastically undervalued yen creating the country’s export surpluses was going to be reversed. When we think that the US has had exactly the same problem with China from the mid-1990s until now, and that the US administration has tried to force a revaluation of the Renmimbi (the “people’s currency”) of which the Yuan is the basic unit, and failed, we have to remember that Japan, unlike China, was conquered nation. Its bureaucratic élite, that same élite which swore by General Electric nuclear power technology and had made it an “untouchable” sacred cow of the Japanese system, that élite which was usually Ivy League-educated, made Japan – although in geographical terms as “Far-Eastern” as China was – an integral part of the “Western” economic system.

It was James Baker who led the Washington backlash and structured the Plaza Accords of September 1985 which Japan ended up signing. This led to buying programme for the Yen which drove Japan’s exchange rate from about 260 per dollar to 130 over the next few years. But this was not accompanied by any reform to the economy.

Instead, the Bank of Japan began to fund a deficit spending programme in response to these changes by slashing interest rates in early 1986, and this despite the fact that the economy had excess capacity in the capital goods sector, across all of steel, auto manufacturers, machinery, consumer electronics and so-on, as a result of the post-war boom. What Japan had actually needed at the time was higher rather than lower interest rates, in order to alter this chronic over-investment in export capacity.

All the easy money thus produced had to flow somewhere and it flowed into the financial sector, creating a massive bubble in real estate and corporate stocks and bonds. This “financialisation” of the economy led to businesses drastically expanding borrowing in the form of both straight and convertible debt, all of which went into speculation in real estate and financial assets – especially into the stock of other companies within the Keiretsu groups around which Japan’s state-led development model had been organized, artificially driving up stock prices.

The Nikkei index of the Japanese stock market rose fourfold during the 50 months after the Plaza Accord, while the price of land rose to insane levels, rising fivefold before the major crash of 1991 (at which point point the aggregate value of Tokyo real estate exceeded that of the US as a whole). Meanwhile there was a drop in the growth capacity of the real economy due to the now more realistic exchange rate and the end of the fixed-investment boom. The excess capacity of the export economy was faced with fierce competition now in foreign markets, and the bureaucratic élite, together with the ruling LDP political party, now sought through these new policies described above to “featherbed” their corporate constituencies: but this wasn’t just easy-money, there was also a thoroughgoing rigging of the domestic markets and outright protectionism. Construction deals, new credit, and corruption spread among these constituencies, leading to overbuilding and white elephant projects.

So in the two decades after 1990, Japan’s government expenditures rose by 45%, while its general revenues fell by 15-20% opening up a massive fiscal deficit that fueled the parabolic rise of debt as we saw above, leading to credit saturation which itself has led to low or negative growth ever since. Furthermore, bad economic advice from abroad led the Ivy League-educated Japanese élites to dismantle the government tax base in order to try and generate supply-side effects, with even worse results – leading to a drop in government nominal revenues over two decades, in amounts unparalleled in history.

The lethal combination of easy money and lax fiscal policy has now also been at the core of
Shinzō Abe’s “Abenomics”, encouraged by ex-US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who pushed the myth that Japan was experiencing “deflation” (rather than structural overcapacity) and who recommend on this basis that the central bank run its printing presses continuously and blindly until inflation rise back to 2%—– supposedly thus reflating nominal GDP, aggregate demand, and the wheels of production and jobs growth in the real economy.

Thus Japan adopted “ZIRP” (Zero-interest-rate-policy) in 1999 and piled post-Keynesian central banking on top of an already hemorrhaging fiscal situation, leading to the explosion in the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet from about 10% of GDP to nearly 50% today. This resulted in massive financial repression, which not to put too fine a point on it, has been to no avail. During the approximate 15 years since it originally adopted ZIRP, Japan’s real GDP has limped along at 0.9% per year, not significantly different than the 0.7% rate it experienced in the previous post-1991 decade.

The obvious effect of ZIRP is the collapse of Japan’s previously vaunted household savings rate (which had funded its post-war capital expansion), now to below even US levels, something which will prove a trial for the large expected retirements looming up ahead, where even in the short-term Japan looks like it will quickly devour its savings. The country is on the road as David Stockman explains to “… becoming an international pauper”. The other unpleasant effect of ZIRP is that it seems to promise that government debts can continue to be financed at close to zero nominal carry cost for the indefinite future. Clearly any kind of “rate normalisation” is an impossibility, with the close to zero financing costs on Japan’s long-term bonds, since the sheer size of the debt has meant that the interest carry cost has still been consuming nearly one-third of its current revenues.

The attempt to exit this financial trap through the insane policies of “Abenomics”, trying to achieve a dare-devil “escape velocity” for the real economy have now shown to have totally failed. The spectre of inflation has indeed been created, but the real economy has collapsed even further. Despite the newly cheapened currency, and the consequent rise in imports, exports have hardly risen due to the policy of offshoring production to China, which in our “financialisation” environment has been  an integral part of the Japanese élite pandering to its corporate (keiretsu)constituencies, rather than seeking any kind of structural and social reform. There is no sense of national policy at all, a problem furthermore that we see across all “Western” economies anyway, where as Keynes said (see post below) “… enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation… “ but clearly reflected in a much more serious situation in Japan, than in the rest of the “Western” economic system, thus representing the leading end of decline into the abyss. See:

http://wolfstreet.com/2014/07/24/the-flame-out-of-abenomics-in-one-crucial-chart/

 

Listen to a new report from Adam Morrow on the progress of Egypt under the Junta

Hear this by opening link

http://scotthorton.org/?powerpress_pinw=19544-podcast

Scott Horton jokes about Egypt’s “…. march back to democracy..” under the military junta where the junta “…overthrew the elected government of that country in order to restore it…” and Adam Morrow explains that actually a lot of people have been so brainwashed by the media in Egypt about the Muslim Brotherhood that, strangely enough, this is what they think. Also Scott asks Adam whether the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) tried to “… Talibanise the government… clamping down on people’s personal and professional behaviour…” and Adam replies that on the contrary this is “… a huge misconception…” and that they went out of their way “… bending over backwards… to reassure everybody that they were not going to do anything that would affect personal freedoms…”

A lot more here about the distortions in social and political processes caused  by the media (both Egyptian and Western)