Socio-Economics History Blog

Socio-Economics & History Commentary

Struggling British Airways Asks 40,000 Staff To Work For Nothing In Desperate Fight For Survival

  • Another ‘green shoot’ or yellow weed? You have to be really in denial to believe all the feel good propaganda. Sure, stock markets have rallied 40%. But stock market do not create jobs. Official economic statistics provided by BLS (Bureau of Lying/Labor Statistics) is highly manipulated and subject to changes every month.
     
  • Daily Mail UK reports :
      
    British Airways boss Willie Walsh is asking his 40,000 staff to work for nothing to save the airline. The astonishing plea comes as BA faces what Mr Walsh says is a ‘fight for survival’.
     
    The company has written directly to its 40,000 employees asking them to volunteer for up to four weeks of unpaid work. Mr Walsh announced last week that he would work unpaid for the month of July – forgoing £61,000 in salary. His chief financial officer Keith Williams is also working unpaid for the month.
     
    The appeal to staff goes much further than earlier requests for a pay freeze or unpaid leave. It also undermines the unions with whom BA is negotiating a wider package of cost- cutting measures.
     
    But it infuriated cabin crew. One said: ‘BA now stands for “B***** all” because that’s what they want to now pay us. That’s the calibre of management we have at British Airways.’
     
    Passengers face the threat of a summer of strikes as the airline goes into battle with unions this week for a deal to slash costs and sweep away what it sees as restrictive practices. BA is understood to be seeking up to 4,000 job cuts – one in ten of the workforce – including 2,000 voluntary redundancies among the 14,000 cabin crew.
     
    The call for unpaid work is set out in individual letters to staff, and in the BA in-house newspaper British Airways News under the headline Action Time. 
      
    It says bluntly: ‘Colleagues are being urged to help the airline’s cash-saving drive by signing up for unpaid leave or unpaid work. ‘From tomorrow, people will be able to opt for blocks of unpaid leave or unpaid work, with salary deductions spread over three to six months, wherever possible.’
     
    ‘The new unpaid work option means people can contribute to the cash-saving effort by coming to work while effectively volunteering for a small cut in base pay.’ BA adds that the action ‘will help minimise the financial impact on individuals, while helping to immediately save cash for the business’.
     
    It denied that those who volunteer-for unpaid work will be given preference when any subsequent redundancies are considered. The company is also asking staff to consider temporary or permanent part-time work, short-term unpaid leave of up to four weeks, or long-term unpaid leave of between one and 12 months.

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

North Korea Threatens To Launch Pre-Emptive Strike Against U.S.

  • North Korea has broken the armistice agreement (agreed upon in 1953). North Korea is in fact in a state of war with South Korea and America. The ratcheting up of rhetoric is bad for everyone. It is hard to predict what a megalomaniac mad man will do. Although, I still think it is mere rhetoric and attention seeking. One wrong move and pre-emptive nuclear strikes will begin, either way, initiated by North Korea or Pentagon.
     
  • Xin Hua reports :
      
    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has warned it would launch a pre-emptive attack against the United States. Pak Jae Gyong, vice-minister of the DPRK People’s Armed Forces, made the remark at a mass rally that attracted some 10,000 people to denounce a newly endorsed U.N. Security Council Resolution, the official KCNA news agency said Monday.”Under the present situation where the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is technically at war with the U.S. imperialists, and as the Armistice Agreement has lost its legal binding force, the KPA will promptly exercise the right to a pre-emptive strike to beat back the enemies’ slightest provocation,” Pak said.
        
    He threatened to deliver blows to the “vital parts of the U.S.” and “wipe out all its imperialist aggressor troops no matter where they are in the world.”
      
    Meanwhile, Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, told the rally that the U.N. resolution was “another grave provocation.” “This is, in essence, a wicked pressure offensive launched by the U.S. imperialists to disarm the DPRK, strangle its economy and undermine its ideology and system,” Kim said. The DPRK will respond to any attempt to blockade it with “resolute and deadly blows,” he said.
      

  • See also :
     
    Nuclear War Is Kim Jong-il’s Game Plan
    Pentagon: Preemptive Nuclear First Strike on North Korea Likely?
    Kim Jong Il’s Provocations To The West May Hide a Rational Purpose
    Russia Fears Korea Conflict Could Go Nuclear
    North Korea Threatens Military Strike on South Korea

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | GeoPolitics | | 1 Comment

Prechter: U.S. Likely To Lose AAA Rating

  • Robert Prechter, the Über Elliot Wave technician, has come out to voice what should be obvious to everyone. I am in agreement with Prechter on the current crisis. There will be a next leg down in the stock market and it will break the March lows. The state of denial, alot of these ‘green shoots’ analysts are propagating will come to an end. This is far worse than the 1929 Great Depression. Reuters reports :
      
    Technical analyst Robert Prechter on Monday said he sees the United States losing its top AAA credit rating by the end of 2010, as he stuck by a deeply bearish outlook on the U.S. economy and stock market.
     
    Prechter, known for predicting the 1987 stock market crash, joins a growing coterie of market heavyweights in forecasting the United States will lose its top credit rating as the government issues trillions of dollars in debt to fund efforts to bail out the economy.
     
    Fears about the long-term vulnerability of the prized U.S. credit rating came to the fore after Standard & Poor’s in May lowered its outlook on Britain, threatening the UK’s top AAA rating. That move raised fears that the United States could face a similar risk, with the hefty amounts of government debt issued in both countries to pay for financial rescues causing budget deficits to swell.
     
    Prechter, speaking at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in New York, said he sees investors’ confidence in an economic rebound fading, a trend that will drag the S&P 500 stock index .SPX well below the March 6 intraday low of 666.79 by the end of this year or early next.
      
    “There will be a leg down in stock prices, and it will affect all other areas,” including corporate bonds and commodities, said Prechter, who is executive officer at research company Elliott Wave International, based in Gainesville, Georgia.
     
    Prechter, who is known for his bearish views, has repeatedly forecast a steep decline in stocks this year, even as the stock market has rebounded from 12-year lows set in March as optimism about an economic recovery has risen.
     
    Despite the government and Federal Reserve’s massive rescues for financial companies and securities markets, Prechter expects credit markets to clam up again as they did in the first phase of the global financial crisis and for the U.S. economy to sink into a depression.
     
    Although U.S. banks’ recently passed government “stress tests” that assessed the adequacy of their capital levels to absorb losses and have been able to raise some capital in debt and equity markets, “the banking sector is in severe trouble,” as more loans turn bad, he said. The economy “is obviously heading toward a depression,” despite the government’s efforts to dodge one, said Prechter.
      ….  
    “It’s the next leg down (in stocks) that will make it clear that these things are not true,” Prechter said.

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

BRIC, SCO Discuss “Super-Sovereignty” Currency, USD Alternatives

  • Despite American MSM propaganda, it is very obvious to other countries that the end of the USD is near. Major emerging economies are openly calling for an end to the USD. I am quite sure Japan also feels the same way. But because of their many ties to America, they will not publicly say so. They are after all dependent upon America for their military defence and survival. This is also true of South Korea. Isn’t it interesting that these 2 countries are the most threatened by North Korea?
     
  • The BRIC and SCO is a direct challenge to American financial and military hegemony. China Stakes reports :
      
    China continued to consider a “super-sovereignty” currency among the countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental mutual-security organization that met today in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals at the division of Asia and Europe. Members include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with India as one of its four observers.
     
    Right after the SCO meeting, the BRIC country (Brazil, Russia, India and China) leaders met formally for the first time. It is not merely coincident that three of them have expressed a desire to adjust their foreign exchange reserve portfolios by reducing the share or volume of US dollar assets.
     
    China has just halted the increase its holding of US Treasury debt. By the end of April, China held $763.5 billion of it, a fall of $4.4 billion, month on month, the first time China has reduced its Treasury holdings. Since May, 2008, China has increased its holding by $260 billion.
     
    Inside China, USD is a hate-more-than-love story. Analysts have long argued that China should be very cautious on buying US government bonds since dollar is bound to weaken. Others hold that US treasury debts are still the best and first choice for China’s near $2 trillion foreign exchange reserve.   
     
    In March, Madam Hu Xiaolian, the chief of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange and a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, said that investing in US national debt is an essential part of China’s reserve management. But while continuing to buy US national debt, China is concerned about the risk of the fluctuation in value of its assets.
     
    China has announced that it would buy up to $50 billion in bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Meanwhile, Russia and Brazil have said they are planning to buy up to $10 billion in IMF bonds, which would mean selling Treasury bonds. India has expressed the same interest. In April, China, Russia, and Brazil all reduced their holdings of US treasury debt.
     
    China now believes that a long-term dollar decline is inevitable, and the risk to the value of its $2 trillion foreign exchange reserve has become realistic, if not imminent.
     
    China has been a huge beneficiary of the order of the world economy and a monetary system with the US dollar as the reserve currency. China’s economy has been anchored by a stable dollar exchange pegged by China’s currency, RMB.
     
    But the financial crisis has given China a wake up call that the present monetary system is not sustainable, and neither is China’s foreign exchange regime and mode of economic growth, which has been largely based on relentless exporting.
     
    What, then, is the role RMB can play in the future? Russia has been urging China for years to settle their bi-lateral trade in their respective currencies. Brazil intends to trade with China by RMB and the real. Recently Russia suggested making RMB convertible to become an international reserve currency.
     
    China can not challenge US directly. The BRIC summit is a convenient platform for China and the other BRIC powers, set to become the 4 of the 6 largest economic entities by 2050, to put a bit of pressure on the US. Held before the first China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in late July in Washington DC, the BRIC summit may give China some leverage in dealing with the US.
     
    Russia is ready to use its exchange reserve to buy securities issued by BRIC countries. In return, Russia hopes the others will be willing to buy financial instruments issued by Russia. The leaders discussed increasing of the share of settlement currencies for trade among them. They also discussed adjusting their reserve assets portfolio in a coordinated way.
     
    At the SCO meeting held just before the BRIC summit and attended by China, Russia and India, China proposed to research the feasibility of using a super-sovereignty currency among SCO member countries.
     
    Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed that trade among SCO countries be settled by currencies of member countries. He also suggested that a super-sovereignty currency used inside the SCO eventually become a SCO reserve currency. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also supported the idea.

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | Economics, GeoPolitics | , , , , | Comments Off on BRIC, SCO Discuss “Super-Sovereignty” Currency, USD Alternatives

New Flu Strain ‘has mutated, become more infectious’

  • The A/H1N1 is mutating faster than expected. The avian H5N1 is also mutating. This is bad news. 
     
    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    The new strain of influenza appears to have mutated to become more infectious for humans, the online edition of science magazine Nature reported Monday, referencing research by a team including Prof. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Tokyo University’s Institute of Medical Science.
     
    The surface of influenza virus particles are covered with thorn-shaped proteins called hemagglutinin (HA), which allows the virus to stick to human cells.
     
    After analyzing multiple samples of the new flu virus, the team ascertained that in some cases the HA of the new H1N1 strain have mutated, allowing the strain to stick to human cells more easily.
     
    According to Kawaoka, the same mutations have been found in HA of the H5N1 strain of influenza, the highly virulent bird flu, which kills about 60 percent of those it infects. Kawaoka said the virus is still in the process of mutating into a form even more infectious to humans.
     
    Mutation of H1N1 Discovered in Brazil 
    Brazilian scientists have identified a new strain of the H1N1 virus after examining samples from a patient in Sao Paulo, their institute said Tuesday.
     
    The variant has been called A/Sao Paulo/1454/H1N1 by the Adolfo Lutz Bacteriological Institute, which compared it with samples of the A(H1N1) swine flu from California.
      
    The genetic sequence of the new sub-type of the H1N1 virus was isolated by a virology team lead by one of its researchers, Terezinha Maria de Paiva, the institute said in a statement. 
     
    The mutation comprised of alterations in the Hemagglutinin protein which allows the virus to infect new hosts, it said. It was not yet known whether the new strain was more aggressive than the current A(H1N1) virus which has been declared pandemic by the World Health Organization. The genetic make-up of the H1N1 virus and its subvariants are important for scientists.
     
    Pharmaceutical companies are working to mass produce a vaccine against the current A(H1N1) flu. There are fears though that it could mutate into a deadly strain, much in the same way as the 1918 Spanish flu — also an A(H1N1) virus type — did when it killed tens of millions around the planet.

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June 17, 2009 Posted by | Medicine & Health | , | 5 Comments