Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fail, huh? I guess that is why Too Big to Fail is on Chairwoman Yellin's to do list.

First Published 7 hours ago
Updated 7 hours ago 

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View:

This week, the Federal Reserve will present the results of stress tests designed to ensure that the largest U.S. banks won’t turn the next financial crisis into an economic disaster. There’s just one problem: If the tests were realistic, most of the banks would fail.... 

...What, then, would a rigorous stress test say about U.S. banks today? Researchers at New York University have created a tool to answer the question. Drawing on the historical relationship between banks’ stock prices and the market as a whole, it estimates what the value of the banks’ equity capital would be if the market fell 40 percent over six months - similar to what happened in 2008. It then calculates, based on past crises, how much capital the banks would have to raise to be financially sound.

The results aren’t pretty. Using a start date of Sept. 30, 2013, the same as that of the Fed’s latest round of stress tests, the NYU model gives only one of the six largest U.S. banks - Wells Fargo - a passing grade. The other five - JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - would have a combined capital shortfall of more than $300 billion. That’s not much less than they needed to get themselves out of the last crisis....

...U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (click here) is launching a state-wide tour to promote her new book "A Fighting Chance" that follows her perception of how Washington really works and really doesn't. The 384-page book is set to be released on April 22 by Metropolitan Books, two days after Warren is slated to kick off her state-wide tour to promote it.

The book chronicles her life, from growing up in Oklahoma to serving in Washington under President Obama according to Macmillian Publishers. It begins with how Warren once dreamed about becoming a teacher but instead married early. Some 15 years later, she distinguished herself as a law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt....
A low-pressure system (click here) brought strong winds—gusting to 55 miles (85 kilometers) per hour—to the Southern Plains on March 18, 2014. The winds picked up exposed soil from the parched landscape, resulting in a large dust storm that covered parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The storm was the second in the past week to sweep across the region with similar wind patterns.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) acquired these images of the storm on March 18. The top image shows the dust over the Texas Panhandle at 1:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time from the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite. The second image, from the Aqua satellite, was acquired at 2:50 p.m. Comparing the two images shows the development of the storm through the day. The differences in color are due to changes in lighting.
The dust in this image originated in New Mexico. The plume stretched across about 175 kilometers (110 miles) in the top image, but was somewhat dissipated a couple of hours later. The large images show dust across a wider area, including a second large dust plume in southern Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma....

First published March 19th 2014, 5:32 am
A massive wall of dust (click here)  known as a haboob rose up to 1,000 feet high and 200 miles wide as it roared across West Texas and New Mexico Tuesday.
The dust was lifted into the air ahead of a fast-moving cold front that reached Lubbock, already suffering from a lingering drought, National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Aldrich told NBC Dallas-Forth Worth. Wind gusts reached 50 mph, he added....

The very last thing I want to do is introduce skepticism. NASA monitors icebergs and numbers them.

As the Antarctic summer (click here) drew to a close in March 2013, sea ice and icebergs floated along the Mawson Coast of East Antarctica. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on March 15, 2013.

As MODIS acquired this image, a cold wind was blowing off the Amery Ice Shelf, freezing ocean water and creating streamers off the ice shelf edge—a recurring event in this region. Easily pushed by winds and currents, the new, thin ice formed intricate patterns on the sea surface....

Vladimir, try golfing or bear wrestling or whatever it is that Russians do.

This is the best Russia can do, huh?

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has published a reciprocal sanctions list of US citizens, consisting of 10 names, including: Senator J. McCain; senior adviser to President Obama, D. Pfeiffer; and leading adviser on international economics, C. Atkinson.

The move comes in response to US sanctions imposed against Russian officials after the March-16 referendum in Crimea, which Washington considered “illegitimate.” 

On Thursday US President Barack Obama announced a new executive order imposing further on key sectors of the Russian economy and top Russian officials and businessmen. The measures will impact Russian energy, mining, defense and engineering sectors. 

Sticks and stone can break my bones, but, throwing Russian money around will never hurt me.

I told you so, Vladimir. Ho, hum.

The ruble (click here) had another wild ride today, giving up most of yesterday’s gains in the morning and then jumping sharply in the afternoon on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s defiant speech to parliament. For what it’s worth, in his speech today Putin pledged that Russia would not annex any other parts of Ukraine, around which time the ruble began to rise:... 

(Russian) Stocks fell (click here) for a second day on concern sanctions provoked by Russia’s annexation of Crimea will hurt the economy and as Federal Reserve stimulus cuts damped appetite for riskier securities. The ruble was little changed....

11 years ago the USA became the world's worst nightmare.

George Walker Bush is not a good role model for any national leader. I opposed his ranting about Iraq from the absolute beginning. He was determined to carry out an agenda planned long before he took office. 

However, just because Bush was the world's nightmare it doesn't give any nation the right to take up a strategy of nationalism to facilitate conflict. That man killed a lot of innocent people and destabilized a nation. That isn't even close to USA policy with any other country, but, it was a very dark time in the USA and he and his Vice President got away with it because the USA had such an overwhelming military presence. There was no one to oppose the USA.

The world needs peace, not confrontation or some faux idea that a particular language is under siege. Russia's actions with post soviet states is grossly inappropriate. Let there be no doubt, I oppose the actions and priorities of Russia.

I can't help myself. This is like a time warp. The analogy is so tempting. Okay, call it stupid. I accept that.

For two weeks in August 1936, (click here) Adolf Hitler's Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics. Softpedaling its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to bedazzle many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Having rejected a proposed boycott of the 1936 Olympics, the United States and other western democracies missed the opportunity to take a stand that—some observers at the time claimed—might have given Hitler pause and bolstered international resistance to Nazi tyranny....

It is like never when one actually sees history occurring again. You know those neo-nazi guys in the Maidan? They did us a favor.

In August of 1939, (click here) Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression treaty. One week later, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. The first attack of the war took place on September 1, 1939, as German aircraft bombarded the Polish town of Wielun, killing nearly 1,200. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a transit depot at Westerplatte in the Free City of Danzig. Within days, the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany and began mobilizing their armies and preparing their civilians. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. Polish forces surrendered in early October after losing some 65,000 troops and many thousands of civilians....

The fun just never stops, does it?

I am proud of them. All of them. They are great people who never expected the Ukraine to face this level of danger to it's people. I would expect this level of danger in Afghanistan, but, Ukraine? This is a new one on me.

Russia is still an expansionist government. It can't be ignored. The only way these post soviet nations will be stabilized is to develop strong military presence within their borders. It is what it is.

Withdrawal: Ukrainian soldiers fold the Ukrainian flag, which was removed by a Crimean pro- Russian self-defense force at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea

By Tim Shipman and Ian Drury

Ukraine (click here) asked Britain for military support last night amid growing fears that Russia is set to launch a fresh land grab in Eastern Europe.
The embattled nation’s security chief Andriy Parubiy called for joint military exercises with the United States and Britain to deter Russia from seizing the rest of Eastern Ukraine.
He said Ukraine will hold manoeuvres with the two Western nations following the annexation of Crimea.
The Ministry of Defence said Britain ‘routinely’ holds military exercises with Ukraine.
Planning is going ahead for one exercise - codenamed Rapid Trident 14 - to be held near Lviv, close to the Polish border in western Ukraine, in July.
An MoD insider said: ‘This is nothing to do with the current situation in Ukraine and it is not an exercise in, “Right, let’s go and practice battering the Russians".'...

Putin fears a great deal in the year 2014. He doesn't want the remains of Russia to dissolve into small states. If Russia takes the posture of an expansionist soviet nation, it may very well intimidate any movement within the country to dissolve even Russia borders. It would appear as though nationalism and the oppression of democracy and a meaningful judicial process serves the great Russia.

Ah, the good 'ole days.

Any excuse is a good excuse.

A Russian diplomat (click here) voiced “concern” over Estonia’s treatment of its Russian-speaking minority on Wednesday, one day after Russia formally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula over similar fears of mistreatment.

“Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups,” said Russia’s diplomat to the U.N. Human Rights Council, according to Reuters. He was objecting to Estonia’s longstanding policy that all of its citizens speak Estonian, including the Russian minority....

The way to prevent war is to prevent it and not ignore the potential exists. In the case of Russia is appears to be a burgeoning reality.

The very worst Estonia does in the way of human rights currently is to deny employment due to LANGUAGE BARRIERS. This 'speaking Russian thing' seems to be a real hurdle to diversity in the post soviet states. It has to end. There is nothing to say citizens are to be denied to speak any language they want, but, these small nations have to seek help promoting BI-LINGUAL arts. It should be mandatory in their schools that their students speak a FUNCTIONAL language for the benefit of their futures. There is absolutely no reason why speaking Russian is an excuse of a militarized invasion.

Estonia Human Rights (click here)
Discrimination – linguistic minorities Members of the Russian-speaking minority faced discrimination. Non-Estonian speakers, mainly from the Russian-speaking minority, were denied employment due to official language requirements for various professions in the private sector and almost all professions in the public sector. Most did not have access to affordable language training that would enable them to qualify for employment....

The EU and the United Nations needs to reach out to these small nations to resolve any of their human rights problems, including, diversity and inclusion. These post soviet states are beginning to show common problems still lingering in their societies and treasuries. They have worked hard to be independent and as strong as their abilities can afford, but, if they are to be STABLE in a world where a Russian military invasion looms around each corner. They need to advance their society as well as their military structure and alliances. I still believe a military alliance of these countries would provide all of them a stronger position to maintain either sovereignty and advance sincere freedom and prosperity. 

Consider a multi-nation military and the hurdle a language barrier would create. A small nightmare if it isn't addressed. I don't believe any nation has to be a member of NATO to be a part of a stronger military presence on their eastern borders.

I am NOT a world traveler. My concentration is ice fields, glaciers, ice caps and sea ice. I have been to Iceland and simply loved it and the people. One thing is true about this way station on the way to Europe, they speak six different languages and one of them is English. There is no mandated language in Iceland, their native language is still spoken fondly and the world would not want it any other way. I am a strong believer in preserving language as a cultural landmark. Language is extremely important. But,the point is that through the decades Iceland has adapted to many travelers coming to their land. Icelanders also have a diaspora in Europe. 

These small nations have every right to love their native languages, but, they have to succeed in a larger world whereby language could be a barrier. I strongly suggest USAID bring cultural enhancements to these nations in the way of improving diversity while preserving their deeply held cultural values. It is that very diversity in cultural values that will bring tourism and economic growth.

I look forward to an expansionist stability through the post soviet states, peace for all their people and alliances that work to secure their independence and sovereignty.

Welcome to Spring

March 20, 2014
1145 GMT
The Weather Channel Current Temperature Map

The Vernal (Spring) Equinox occurs at the same time all over the world because the sun is moving from south to northern hemisphere. However, depending on what time zone one lives it will be different.

The exact time of the equinox in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UT):

Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 16:57 GMT/UTC 

Google (click here) has marked the first day of spring with one of its famous doodles – in this case, a charming little blobman watering a handful of lovely flowers. Google’s chap obviously doesn’t live in England, which has suffered its wettest winter in 250 years and where the daffodils definitely don’t need watering.
But there’s also something curiously dated about announcing the start of spring after daffodils, crocuses and other buds of spring have been out for several months in some parts of the country. 20 March is the spring equinox which, in the astronomical system of seasons, is the first day of spring....

A lamb frolicking in the spring sunshine. 20 March marks the spring equinox, the astronomical start of the season Photograph: Andrew Hasson/Alamy

And in Australia:

Thursday 22:00 EDT
A tropical low embedded within the monsoon trough should approach QLD (Queensland) bringing heavy rain and strong winds. A high pressure ridge should direct moisture laden breezes towards the coast bringing showers... 

Coastal Strong Wind/Gale Warning

Thu 20 Mar 2014 

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology Queensland Updated Marine Wind

Summary for Queensland
Issued at 10:17 pm EST 
on Thursday 20 March 2014
for the period until 
midnight EST Friday 21 March 2014.

Wind Warnings for Thursday 20 March
Strong Wind Warning for the following area:
Mackay Coast
Cancellation for the following areas:
Cooktown Coast, Cairns Coast, Townsville Coast and Capricornia Coast
The next Marine Wind Warning Summary will be issued when required.
Coastal Strong Wind/Gale Warning
Thu 20 Mar 2014
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology Victoria Marine Wind Warning Summary for Victoria Issued at 10:48 pm EDT on Thursday 20 March 2014 for the period until midnight EDT Friday 21 March 2014. Wind Warnings for Thursday 20 March Strong Wind Warning for the following area: East Gippsland Coast Wind Warnings for Friday 21 March Strong Wind Warning for the following areas: Port Phillip, Western Port, Gippsland Lakes, West Coast, Central Coast, Central Gippsland Coast and East Gippsland Coast The next marine wind warning summary will be issued by 5:10 am EDT Friday.

I hope the families find peace. I have to wonder the toll on their health from the stress of uncertainty.

Australian authorities (click here) announced they may have had a breakthrough in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Thursday when a pair of foreign objects showed up in satellite imagery just west of Australia.

20/03 11:55 CET
A Norwegian ship (click here) has reached the area in the southern Indian Ocean where plane debris from the missing Malaysia airliner may have been spotted.
The car carrier was on its way from Madagascar to Melbourne when it got a request from Australian authorities to assist in investigating.
Earlier on Thursday, Malaysian authorities confirmed that two objects had been sighted on Australian satellite images that could be related to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
“Every effort is being made to locate the objects seen in the satellite imagery. It must be stressed that these sightings, while credible, are still to be confirmed,” Malaysian MInister of Transport, Hishammuddin Hussein, said at a news conference.
It is understood the images were taken on March 16 but when asked to confirm this, Hussein said he “couldn’t verify the date the images were taken”.