Bhaskar Chakravorti, Tufts University
On June 27, the ATM turns 50. Former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker once described it as the ‘only useful innovation in banking.’ But today, the cash that ATMs dispense may be on the endangered list.
Cash is being displaced in so many ways that it’s hard to keep track. There are credit cards and electronic payments; apps such as Venmo, PayPal and Square Cash; mobile payments services; cryptocurrencies that operate outside the purview of central banks; and localized offerings such as Kenya’s mPesa, India’s Paytm and Bangladesh’s bKash. These innovations are encouraging cashlessness across communities worldwide.
Listen to India and the Cashless Society
It’s reasonable to expect cash to follow the path of other goods that have been replaced by digital alternatives, such as photos, music, and movies. Will cash – and the ATMs that dispense it – experience a ‘Blockbuster’ moment and disappear from our neighborhoods?
Not so fast. Cash will likely become less popular, thanks to the high cost of using cash and the growing array of alternatives. But I expect it will remain with us forever. The future will be ‘less cash,’ rather than cashless.
This post was published at FinancialSense on 06/26/2017.
This post was published at OpenMind
China’s Belt and Road Forum, hosted with great fanfare, signals the priority of this flagship connectivity initiative while also underlining its credentials as the new ‘shaper’ of global trends and norms. Exhorting all countries to participate, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that ‘what we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence.’
But India, an emerging economy that shares a contested border with China, worries about containment and new pathways for aggression from Pakistan. Other nations wonder if hegemonistic designs are hidden behind the rationality of connectivity and trade. The policy initiative aims to enhance China’s centrality in the global economic unilateral approach in how the project is conceived and implemented so far belies the rhetoric of multilateralism emanating from Beijing.
Taking inspiration from the ancient Silk Road trading route, China’s One Belt One Road initiative, or OBOR, hopes to link more than 65 countries, encompassing up to 40 percent of global GDP. Xi’s signature foreign paradigm – linking China to Asia, Europe and Africa via an ambitious network of ports, roads, rail and other infrastructure projects. Beginning in China’s Fujian province, the projected Maritime Silk Route passes through the Malacca Strait to the Indian Ocean, moving along the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, ending in Venice.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 25, 2017.
Markets Have Been Strong, But Narrow Focus Is Worrying
After Trump’s election, when US equities markets took off, world markets followed suit. While being in US equities has been a good play, it hasn’t done as well as world indices, Griffiths pointed out.
‘When I rank them all into my quintile system … right in the top quintile is the world index,’ he said. ‘Passively holding the global index is quite hard to beat.’
There are markets beating the global index, however: China, India, and emerging markets. Britain, American, and Japan are in the second quintile, he noted.
While investors in the US have done well, it’s likely they could have done better elsewhere.
Additionally, American equities are being held up by a few blue chip stocks. These are the FANG stocks: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, and other tech stocks. That’s where most of the action has been. Broader indices aren’t as strong.
‘I’m a little bit concerned that the focus is too narrow at the moment,’ Griffiths said. ‘It doesn’t alter the fact that the trend on the chart is definitely upward, though. … We have to go with the trend, yes, but it’s going up, so it’s going to get more expensive.’
1987-Style Crash Possible?
While he doesn’t recommend fighting the uptrend just because it’s expensive, Griffiths does recommend caution. He thinks we should be all right through the end of July.
This post was published at FinancialSense on 06/21/2017.
A tectonic geopolitical shift happened in Astana, Kazakhstan, only a few days ago, and yet barely a ripple registered in Atlanticist circles.
At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, alongside Russia, China and four Central Asian ‘stans’ (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
So now the SCO not only qualifies as the largest political organization – by area and population – in the world; it also unites four nuclear powers. The G-7 is irrelevant, as the latest summit in Taormina made it clear. The real action now, apart from the G-20, also lays in this alternative G-8.
Permanently derided in the West for a decade and a half as a mere talk shop, the SCO, slowly but surely, keeps advancing a set up that Chinese President Xi Jinping qualifies, in a subdued manner, as ‘a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.’
That’s the least one can say when you have China, India and Pakistan in the same group.
This post was published at Sputnik News
The disputed of territory of Kashmir, lying in the north of the sub-continent between India and Pakistan, does not often feature in the world news media, but recently the little-known yet most sensitive region has received attention, not only because of boundary clashes between the armies of India and Pakistan but because there have been some dramatic incidents in the Indian-administered region. Tension is rising, as indicated by comments from politicians and media in both countries, which have been swinging from casual abuse to extremes of frenzied condemnation.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in India is a right-wing, religiously-based ultra-nationalist political party with a large following which actively supports the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which bases its policies on the aspirations of a strongly nationalistic community. The leader of the VHP, Acharya Dharmendra, declared in a speech on June 2 that India should drop a nuclear bomb on Pakistan for creating tension at the border. It is a rogue nation and India must teach that country a lesson. It is important for peace in the Indian subcontinent.
So far as can be determined, no Pakistani politician has yet made such a statement, publicly, at least, but the feeling in Pakistan as regards the use of nuclear weapons is much the same as in India: very many citizens of both countries believe that nuclear weapons just make a bigger bang. This is worrying, to put it mildly, especially as these two well-armed nations are squaring up to each other over the Kashmir imbroglio.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 16, 2017.
The following video was published by X22Report on Jun 14, 2017
The democratic party is now taking it to the next level they are now suing the President. Germany wants complete control of communications and wants to finger print children. India and Pakistan join the Shanghai Cooperation. US soldiers are not fighting in Philippines. Trump give the Pentagon more power to deploy troops. The forces in Syria bring in a missile launcher across the border in Syria. There was an event near DC and a senator was shot. This false flag is now being used for many different agendas.
Former Navy SEAL and Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, recently penned an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal calling for a MacArthur Plan for Afghanistan that rests on two pillars: a central Viceroy acting with complete authority to direct development activities and a privatized East India Company model for securing key areas to bolster economic growth. He goes on to posit mineral resource extraction and agriculture cultivation as the means of funding Afghanistan’s rise into the ranks of civilized nations.
Of course, leftists immediately denounced the idea as war profiteering and corporate undermining of state authority. In terms of political economy, Prince is correct to point out the tremendous waste of money the US led coalition is costing the taxpayers of participating countries. After more than 16 years of occupation, the military campaign has become a quagmire and preventing the rise of future threats emanating from Afghanistan requires a comprehensive redesign and philosophical approach. Citing the expected $45 billion investment projected for 2017, Prince claims that his privatized security plan under a unified governor would cost only $10 billion. While this would be a significant savings and an improvement from the status quo, it still places the American taxpayer on the hook for subsidizing someone else’s security while adding nothing to their own. It still rests on a justified notion of foreign interventionism that makes every American an accomplice to aggressive invasion.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on June 13, 2017.
As we noted first thing this morning, Mizuho downgraded Apple to neutral from buy, slashing its price target on the world’s largest company to $160 to $150 on the view that robust sales growth for the next product cycle has already been factored into the company’s share price. Among other things in its report, Mizuho took a look at some of the company’s key growth markets – notably India – to try and quantify the potential for sales growth in the coming years. It found that the iPhone’s ability to gain market share in the world’s most populous country could be problematic to say the least, and will likely be constrained by the high “opportunity costs” that buyers associate with these products.
Some observations:according to Mizuho, ‘the amount spent on the iPhone 6S would pay for one month’s rent for a two-bedroom apartment in a large metropolitan city.” These prohibitively high costs make it extremely unlikely that the Indian market will swell to hundreds of millions of users of Apple products in the near, or not so near term, like the company hopes.
‘In the exhibit below, we provide added perspective by evaluating the opportunity cost of buying an iPhone in India based on an average smartphone user’s living expenses. For instance, the amount spent on iPhone 6S could allow a consumer to purchase five round-trip cross-country air tickets or pay for one month’s rent for a two-bedroom apartment in a large, metropolitan city.”
‘Similarly a consumer can pay for one year’s worth of groceries, or four years’ worth of cell phone payments with the same amount. In contrast, in the US, smartphone users finance their phones with only $200-300 paid up-front.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 12, 2017.
If there was any confusion on which side of the Qatar crisis Iran found itself, it was swept away today after Iran’s Tasnim news, cited by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, reported that Iran plans to send two warships to Oman on Sunday. The two ships will depart using Iran’s southern waters off the port city of Bandar Abbas for an overseas mission to the Arab Peninsula state and then on to international waters.
On Sunday, the 47th flotilla, comprised of an Alborz destroyer and Bushehr logistic warship, set sail from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, Tasnim reported. From Oman, the ships will then head to the Gulf of Aden and international waters north of the Indian Ocean. At the same time, Iran’s 46th flotilla consisting of a Sabalan destroyer and Lavan logistic warship, is due to return to Iran on Sunday after completing a two-month mission to secure naval routes and protect merchant vessels and oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden.
Separately, Reuters reported that amid food shortages after Qatar’s biggest suppliers severed ties with the import-dependent country, Iran has dispatched four cargo planes of food to Qatar and plans to provide 100 tonnes of fruit and vegetable every day. Qatar has been holding talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut links, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar, which has claimed the terrorism-funding allegations are lies, on Friday hired John Ashcroft to serve as a PR crisis mediator in the US and to defend against terrorism accusations, for which he will be paid $2.5 million for 90 days of his time.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 11, 2017.
At a recent conference on Critical Race Theory, professors discussed how “there is no virtue in whiteness,” with some saying “whiteness” is “inherently violent.” Other conference-goers reportedly called the concept of intellectual diversity “white supremacist bullshit,” while another said “research” is a “colonial, white supremacist, elite process.” ***
Professors at a recent conference hosted by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis reportedly called whiteness ‘inherently violent,’ saying ‘diversity of opinion’ is just ‘white supremacist bullshit.’
The conference, held between May 31 and June 2, was organized by the Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA), an organization that frequently hosts similar events to bring together an ‘interdisciplinary consortium of experts who recognize global implications of race and education for minoritized people.’
‘As a community, we are committed to (1) countering and combating systemic and structural racism with scholarship and praxis, (2) recognizing the multiple locations of oppression and the myriad manifestations and effects of their intersections and (3) co-constructing liberating knowledge that facilitates collective agency to transform schools and communities,’ the group describes itself on its website, a description supported by several attendees at its most recent conference, who quoted highlights from the event on Twitter.
‘Whiteness has already been constructed against blackness. There is no virtue in whiteness, it is inherently violent,’ one conference-goer tweeted, referencing a quote from Michael Dumas, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who spoke at the event.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 8, 2017.
‘There are two ways to go. One, expose an enormous scandal and say, ‘See, this is what humans do, there is no hope’; or, exposing the same scandal, say, ‘As bad as this is, there are individuals who can invent futures that surpass the greed and the insanity’.’ (The Magician Awakes, Jon Rappoport)
Honor, honesty, integrity, ethics – words that mean nothing in a universe of corruption. Words that have been co-opted by vague idealists who hide behind them.
No matter what systems and organizations people build, there is always the question of how many honest individuals are in positions of power – and that question is crucial, to say the least.
I can’t count the number of scandals I’ve written about over the past 35 years. Nor can I count the number of times I’ve referred to The Individual as the bedrock of society.
There is an illusion that the future is shaped by collectives, that we live in a planetary collective, but the truth is, individuals are still at the center of things. Failing to focus on, and elevate the importance of, the individual leads to dire consequences.
The failure of education (at home and in schools) to take up issues of individual freedom, power, and responsibility opens the door to unaccountable corruption. There is no way around it.
How many colleges in the world teach courses that truly explore individual freedom, responsibility, power, creativity, and ethics as a single whole? How many teachers, even if permitted, would be able to lead students through such a course without the usual empty platitudes and academic fiddle-faddle?
This post was published at Jon Rappoport on June 8, 2017.
Amid widespread international condemnation, U. S. President Donald Trump has announced that he is pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The leaders of France, Germany and Italy have issued a joint statement saying they regret the decision while affirming their commitment to continuing the global fight against climate change. Senior Republicans and coal industry officials have backed the president’s decision, however.
But as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 86 percent of people in Brazil and 76 percent of people in India consider global warming a very serious problem. In the U. S., on the other hand, only 45 percent of respondents were seriously concerned.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 4, 2017.
Displaying what one commentator called ‘sheer 19th century bloodlust and thirst for empire,’ Erik Prince, founder of the private mercenary firm Blackwater, argued in The Wall Street Journal this week that the United States should deploy an ‘East India Company approach’ in Afghanistan.
The country, he wrote, should be run by ‘an American viceroy who would lead all U. S. government and coalition efforts – including command, budget, policy, promotion, and contracting – and report directly to the president.’
In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U. S. system bereft of institutional memory. Prince insists that these are ‘cheaper private solutions,’ but such privatization would also be a boon for military contractors.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 3, 2017.
So much for Trump’s lawyers gaining control over the president’s tweeting habits.
Just three after the Italian G-7 meeting ended in an unprecedented lack of consensus over the Paris climate deal, prompting Angela Merkel to announce one day later that Germany can no longer “completely rely” on the US, Trump escalated the dispute with Germany over trade and defense while the German Chancellor met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a demonstration of her ability to pivot from the U. S. to strengthen alternative global alliances.
‘We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military,’ Trump said in his first tweet on Tuesday. “Very bad for U. S. This will change”
We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U. S. This will change
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 30, 2017.
Dozens of graduating students walked out during Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday, according to video reports posted on social networks. When Pence was called to the stage Saturday morning, over 50 of the new alumni walked out in protest. The students cited the Vice President’s history of anti-LGBTQ actions including the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015, which some say legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people and families.
A small crowd of protesters also gathered at the university’s main entrance.
We Stand For, a coalition of students at Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s College, posted videos of the protest on Facebook and Twitter. The group says it stands up ‘for human dignity, respect and justice.’
GLAAD, a group representing those in the LGBTQ community, applauded the men and woman who protested.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 21, 2017.
India Reverts to its Irrational, Tribal Normal (Part XIII)
Over the three years in which Narendra Modi has been in power, his support base has continued to increase. Indian institutions – including the courts and the media – now toe his line.
The President, otherwise a ceremonial rubber-stamp post, but the last obstacle keeping Modi from implementing a police state, comes up for re-election by a vote of the legislative houses in July 2017. No one should be surprised if a Hindu fanatic is made the next President. India is rapidly entering a new phase.
This post was published at Acting-Man on May 20, 2017.
The federal H-1B program is intended to allow foreign workers into the US to do high-skill jobs for which employers can’t find qualified domestic workers. In reality, it’s a way for US employers to lower their labor costs, ignoring the large pool of fully qualified (but more expensive) US workers in favor of cheap foreign labor.
This isn’t a small program, either; in 2014 there were 124,326 new applications approved and 191,531 renewed. Since this is a three-year program with one possible renewal, the total number of H-1B foreign workers in the US is triple that, or close to a million lower-wage workers in positions that should otherwise go to US workers at much higher wages.
Where are those workers coming from? According to a recent report to Congress, in 2012 most – 64% – come from India, with no other country sending anywhere close to that many (China came closest at 7.6%).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 16, 2017.
Sunday’s celebration of China’s grand $1 trillion Silk Road infrastructure plan, three years in the making (detailed earlier), had several somewhat bizarre subplots.
First, just hours before the summit opened, North Korea launched its latest ballistic missile, provoking Beijing and further testing the patience of China, its chief (former) ally. Ironically, the United States had complained to China on Friday over the inclusion of a North Korean delegation at the event. Second, in a sign that China’s rampant, credit-fuelled growth is making some just a tad uneasy, some Western diplomats expressed unease about both the summit and the plan as a whole, seeing it as an attempt to promote Chinese influence globally according to Reuters. Third, and the biggest surprise of the day, was India, the world’s fastest growing nation and the second most populous in the world, which did not even bother to send an official delegation to Beijing and instead criticised China’s global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved. Meanwhile, in a more entertaining interlude, Russian President Vladimir Putin, also present in Beijing for the Silk Road event, decided to show off his softer side when he sat down to play piano on Sunday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 14, 2017.
White House Correspondents’ Dinner host and Daily Show star Hasan Minhaj delivered a blistering criticism of Donald Trump Saturday night at the Washington D. C. gala, attacking the president for not showing up to the annual event that is supposed to celebrate free speech and a free press, but turns out to just be a self-congratulating club to pat themselves on the back.
While the dinner is typically supposed to roast the President, Trump knew the media would use the event to just be more nasty and Hasan Minhaj did as expected. It is one thing to roast someone, and another completely to attack policy making it just a leftist argument because your voted for the other team. Minhaj, who is an American comedian of Indian heritage, claimed to be an immigrant but failed to distinguish between those who legally come and have to prove they have something to offer like every other country, and those who do not.
This post was published at Armstrong Economics on May 3, 2017.