Craig Eisele on …..

February 3, 2012

Coming of Age and Facing a Poor Quality of Life and Uncertain Future

This Post is scheduled to post on  the early morning of Friday February 3, 2012. It is My Daughter Birthday today… and I am sad …..

It is a sad post actually… it is about my daughter. While the happy news is that on this day she attains the milestone of 21 years  of age…. and I will  abide by her wished to give her the first legal drink in her life (I have been instructed by her to make sure it is sweet) ….. the sad news is  she faces a glib future.

My daughter is Autistic.. and hope as I may have I  hoped and prayed that she would  develop enough to be at least minimally self sufficient…. but that is not going to be the case for her. If I am no longer able to care for her then I  fear.. really fear…. that  the Government , in its efforts to care for her.. will in fact fail her like they have…. many others. WORSE, my own republican party has  taken on an ANTI-NEEDY stance….. and   if you know anyone on a fixed income you will know that the “COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT”  that Social Security Recipients Get is NOT true….NOT real.. and their costs of living are far far greater than the  adjustment they get every year.

I have thought of putting my assets into a specified Trust Fund…. but who will administer it…. I do not know anyone that is related to me or my daughter that I can trust to do what is right for her and to safeguard the money… and I mean that….. NO ONE related to us do I trust…. and that is a sad state of affairs in itself.

Lawyers charge too much to do this over time….. and if the assets were  placed in my daughter’s name I fear she will not qualify for aid until all of that money was used up… and I wanted her to have that for the simpler things in life… Ruffles Potato Chips , Pepperoni Loves Pizza cut into half-inch squares  so she  can eat them without having any front teeth, the newest Sims 3 or whatever version is current  expansion packs. I tunes, and Music players and the occasional new computer and  TV set… and Movie and game rentals…. it sounds like a lot.. but it is not cost wise….

But then it is things that Insurance does not cover.. like dental… and Medicare does not cover dental.. or who will help her chose a good Medical plane if Medicare goes private.. and how will she affords it.

I am NOT going to outlive this child/Adult… so what is going to happen to her… where is she going to live… and because she is 100% NON VIOLENT   and is not  the personality that can even stand up for herself.. and gets upset if she is confronted and buckles like a house built of cheap cards….. She really is the most sweetest, kindest, caring, compassionate, empathetic young lady you would ever want to meet.

She is able to achieve intellectually to some extent. She even was able to earn a REGULAR ED diploma and pass the STATE High School  exam…. but some days she cannot remember the days of the week and always has trouble with the months of the year.  She is spatially challenged.. meaning  she cannot see things in her mind.. so when it came to learning how to drive… she had to look down at the pedals to look at them before she wold put her foot down on one to stop or go…. Same with brushing her own hair.. she can not  envision it by feel or concept and can’t brush it as a result.. Bathing, the same…  and even if she could in some ways her dexterity and coordination is so awkward that she gets frustrated and gives up trying….. ohh and she is just 4 foot 8 so even kitchen cabinets are to high for her….  In the simplest terms she needs help in her every day living..  so even finding a good place to live is extremely difficult and I have not found that place yet.

I cold go on about my troubles with getting her her own Medicaid… she does not qualify because she lives with me and our HOUSEHOLD income is too high… or the supposed Medicaid Waiver Program that Congress refuses to fund so I can get her additional help and services…  but what is the use.. there are a lot of people in that position and I am not alone…

What I am alone in and have been for almost 9 years now is taking care of this  sweetheart. No ONE has really helped.. and respite care  … I have no idea what that is.. even family ignores my needs to have real-time for myself… and so I am tired… and have literally lost my will to live.. no I am not going to kill myself… First because I have this obligation to this great person .. but second because i am a Cowardly Catholic… and help has no appeal for me.

And last….. which may seem the strangest thing of all is I am afraid….. NOT OF DYING…. For that Concept I fully embrace…. BUT BECAUSE MY OWN REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS BETRAYED ME AND MY FAMILY…. They have gone so far as to actually now believe the lies they have been telling the public for the last 4 years.. and I am DISGUSTED by their  lies, distortions and worse….. their heartlessness….  and remember I AM A REPUBLICAN!!   …… and it is for this reason I  have to live longer.. because of their  hubris…. their complete disregard for the human condition… because they have become something I do not recognize…. and maybe the 2012 doomsday prophecy will be true if my party wins the  Presidential race based on this platform of hate.

Some of you will say.. ohh then you’re a Democrat… I say no way I am not that  compassionate and soft on people who need to take responsibility.. so others say ohh your libertarian….. I say no there is a need for government and regulations because humans by nature are greedy and selfish and  if left unchecked hurt all of humanity.

I AM A REPUBLICAN… and I am an ANGRY Republican…. but my party does not care.. they have only one goal…. not America.. not Americans.. Not humanity…. no …. ONLY ONE GOAL….. BEAT OBAMA…..  Stupidity reigns in my party!!

Life is HARD.. it is an uphill battle for all of us.. and more so for those like my daughter who are disabled and disadvantaged…. WHO WILL BE HER ADVOCATE when I am not able  to do it anymore….. Obviously not my family, my party, or my country.

So while this is an auspicious day for my daughter turning 21…. and I will make it as special as I can for her.. it is also a sad day as it only  makes me sorry and care  about what will happen  when I can no longer be her advocate and care giver….. and I want to just sit her and cry when I write this………………….

January 31, 2012

Governmental Austerity Does NOT Work In Times Like These

Paul Krugman Calls it:  The Austerity Debacle  And he is right AGAIN! Unfortunately Politics and ideology trump basic economics and common sense.

Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground.

Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s — and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy.

And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.

O.K., about those caveats: On one side, British unemployment was much higher in the 1930s than it is now, because the British economy was depressed — mainly thanks to an ill-advised return to the gold standard — even before the Depression struck. On the other side, Britain had a notably mild Depression compared with the United States.

Even so, surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn’t be a tough challenge. Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have — but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead.

Britain, in particular, was supposed to be a showcase for “expansionary austerity,” the notion that instead of increasing government spending to fight recessions, you should slash spending instead — and that this would lead to faster economic growth. “Those who argue that dealing with our deficit and promoting growth are somehow alternatives are wrong,” declared David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister. “You cannot put off the first in order to promote the second.”

How could the economy thrive when unemployment was already high, and government policies were directly reducing employment even further? Confidence! “I firmly believe,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet — at the time the president of the European Central Bank, and a strong advocate of the doctrine of expansionary austerity — “that in the current circumstances confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery, because confidence is the key factor today.”

Such invocations of the confidence fairy were never plausible; researchers at the International Monetary Fund and elsewhere quickly debunked the supposed evidence that spending cuts create jobs. Yet influential people on both sides of the Atlantic heaped praise on the prophets of austerity, Mr. Cameron in particular, because the doctrine of expansionary austerity dovetailed with their ideological agendas.

Thus in October 2010 David Broder, who virtually embodied conventional wisdom, praised Mr. Cameron for his boldness, and in particular for “brushing aside the warnings of economists that the sudden, severe medicine could cut short Britain’s economic recovery and throw the nation back into recession.” He then called on President Obama to “do a Cameron” and pursue “a radical rollback of the welfare state now.”

Strange to say, however, those warnings from economists proved all too accurate. And we’re quite fortunate that Mr. Obama did not, in fact, do a Cameron.

Which is not to say that all is well with U.S. policy. True, the federal government has avoided all-out austerity. But state and local governments, which must run more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out — and this has been a major drag on the overall economy. Without those spending cuts, we might already have been on the road to self-sustaining growth; as it is, recovery still hangs in the balance.

And we may get tipped in the wrong direction by Continental Europe, where austerity policies are having the same effect as in Britain, with many signs pointing to recession this year.

The infuriating thing about this tragedy is that it was completely unnecessary. Half a century ago, any economist — or for that matter any undergraduate who had read Paul Samuelson’s textbook “Economics” — could have told you that austerity in the face of depression was a very bad idea. But policy makers, pundits and, I’m sorry to say, many economists decided, largely for political reasons, to forget what they used to know. And millions of workers are paying the price for their willful amnesia.

….. PAUL KRUGMAN 1/29/12

January 15, 2012

Southern Baptist Evangelicals Declare “Mormonism is heretical to Christianity”

Mormonism is heretical to Christianity??  Well that is the Claim of a Southern Baptist Evangelical Leader… read below for more:

The Theological Differences Behind Evangelical Unease With Romney

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN

The Rev. R. Philip Roberts, the president of a Southern Baptist seminary in Kansas City, Mo., is an evangelist with a particular goal: countering Mormon beliefs.

Mr. Roberts has traveled throughout the United States, and to some countries abroad, preaching that Mormonism is heretical to Christianity. His message is a theological one, but theology is about to land squarely in the middle of the Republican presidential primary campaign.

As the Republican voting moves South, with primaries in South Carolina on Saturday and in Florida on Jan. 31, the religion of Mitt Romney, the front-runner, may be an inescapable issue in many voters’ minds. In South Carolina, where about 60 percent of Republican voters are evangelical Christians, Mr. Romney, a devout Mormon and a former bishop in the church, faces an electorate that has been exposed over the years to preachers like Mr. Roberts who teach that the Mormon faith is apostasy.

Many evangelicals have numerous reasons, other than religion, for objecting to Mr. Romney. But to understand just how hard it is for some to coalesce around his candidacy, it is important to understand the gravity of their theological qualms.

“I don’t have any concerns about Mitt Romney using his position as either a candidate or as president of the United States to push Mormonism,” said Mr. Roberts, an author of “Mormonism Unmasked” and president of the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who said he had no plans to travel to South Carolina before the voting. “The concern among evangelicals is that the Mormon Church will use his position around the world as a calling card for legitimizing their church and proselytizing people.”

Mormons consider themselves Christians — as denoted in the church’s name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet the theological differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity are so fundamental, experts in both say, that they encompass the very understanding of God and Jesus, what counts as Scripture and what happens when people die.

“Mormonism is a distinctive religion,” David Campbell, a Mormon and an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in religion and politics. “It’s not the same as Presbyterianism or Methodism. But at the same time, there have been efforts on the part of the church to emphasize the commonality with other Christian faiths, and that’s a tricky balance to strike for the church.”

On the most fundamental issue, traditional Christians believe in the Trinity: that God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all rolled into one.

Mormons reject this as a non-biblical creed that emerged in the fourth and fifth centuries. They believe that God the Father and Jesus are separate physical beings, and that God has a wife whom they call Heavenly Mother.

It is not only evangelical Christians who object to these ideas.

“That’s just not Christian,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, a liberal Protestant seminary in New York City. “God and Jesus are not separate physical beings. That would be anathema. At the end of the day, all the other stuff doesn’t matter except the divinity of Jesus.”

The Mormon Church says that in the early 1800s, its first prophet, Joseph Smith, had revelations that restored Christianity to its true path, a course correction necessary because previous Christian churches had corrupted the faith. Smith bequeathed to his church volumes of revelations contained in scripture used only by Mormons: “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” “The Doctrine and Covenants” and “Pearl of Great Price.”

Traditional Christians do not recognize any of those as Scripture.

Another big sticking point concerns the afterlife. Early Mormon apostles gave talks asserting that human beings would become like gods and inherit their own planets — language now regularly held up to ridicule by critics of Mormonism.

But Kathleen Flake, a Mormon who is a professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt Divinity School, explained that the planets notion had been de-emphasized in modern times in favor of a less concrete explanation: people who die embark on an “eternal progression” that allows them “to partake in God’s glory.”

“Mormons think of God as a parent,” she said. “God makes the world in order to give that world to his children. It’s like sending your child to Harvard — God gives his children every possible opportunity to progress towards this higher life that God possesses. When Mormons say ‘Heavenly Father,’ they mean it. It’s not a metaphor.”

It is the blurring of the lines between God, Jesus and human beings that is hard for evangelicals to swallow, said Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif., who has been involved in a dialogue group between evangelicals and Mormons for 12 years and has a deep understanding of theology as Mormons see it.

“Both Christians and Jews, on the basis of our common Scriptures, we’d all agree that God is God and we are not,” Mr. Mouw said. “There’s a huge ontological gap between the Creator and the creature. So any religious perspective that reduces that gap, you think, oh, wow, that could never be called Christian.”

Mormons tend to explain the doctrinal differences more gently. Lane Williams, a Mormon and a professor of communications at Brigham Young University-Idaho, a Mormon institution, said the way he understands it, “it’s not a ‘we’re right and they’re wrong’ kind of approach. But it’s as though we feel we have a broader circle of truth.

“My daily life tries to be about Jesus Christ,” he said. “And in that way, I don’t think I’m much different from my Protestant friends.”

In a Pew poll released in late November, about two-thirds of mainline Protestants and Catholics said Mormonism is Christian, compared with only about a third of white evangelicals. By contrast, 97 percent of Mormons said their religion is Christian in a different Pew poll released this month.

Mr. Mouw said that only a month ago he was called to Salt Lake City to mediate a theological discussion about Mormonism among four evangelical leaders who had collaborated with Mormon leaders to pass the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in California. After two and a half days of discussions, the group was divided on Mormon theology, Mr. Mouw said.

“Two concluded that while Mormons are good people, they don’t worship the same God,” Mr. Mouw said. “Two concluded that Mormons love Jesus just as the evangelicals do, and they accepted the Mormons as brothers and sisters in Christ.

“That’s the split,” Mr. Mouw said, “and it’s very basic.”

January 3, 2012

Dear Media Coverage of the IOWA CAUCUS

Please be advised that  the vast majority of this country is NOT interested in the  ridiculousness they call an event taking place in Iowa… in past presidential elections it may have mattered.. but most of us find it a best a joke.. and at worst a national disgrace.

INSTEAD OF THE IOWA CAUCUS can we please watch  reruns of 1960 bowling championship games.. or  maybe how to cook food from Uzbekistan…  or even I LOVE Luck episodes 1 through a gazillion…. ANYTHING BUT THE CRAP that is taking place in IOWA

Watching people hand knitting sweaters has more appeal than what you are showing us in IOWA

January 1, 2012

The Republican Party Destroyed Itself for 2012 Elections

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2012!

I love each new year because it is a time of renewal and optimism, and I enjoy speculating about our future. The big story in 2012 will be the presidential election, and optimism is something I do not have.

So let’s just jump right in.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. I like this guy. He is Obama light, which might be a good thing for our country. He is smart, well educated, a successful businessman who knows the investment side of the economy. He was a conservative governor of Massachusetts, a liberal state, to say the least. I am familiar with his background and his father, George Romney.

George Romney was chairman and CEO of American Motors Corp. back when there was a Big Four of American auto makers. He went on to be a successful two-term governor of Michigan and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Mitt Romney comes from good stock and, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I could live with Romney as my president. Unfortunately, he can’t get elected because factions of his own party won’t support him. That’s too bad. And As I blogged earlier, Mitt is Mormon and Americans are too bigoted to readily accept a Mormon

Barring some scandal of major proportion or a national disaster he cannot control and flubs the response, President Barack Obama will be re-elected in November. And I can live with him as my president.

Romney will lose because his party has shot itself in the foot by backing the tea party movement and other radical right-wing efforts. The tea party now owns the Republican Party. The problem is that mainstream Americans and independent voters simply do not identify with these radical beliefs. Look at the success of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, right-wing extremists all. They make for good theater, but, trust me, thoughtful Americans don’t want anything to do with any of them running the country.

The other thing the Republican Party has done is to willfully damage and hold back the American economy as a way to oust Obama. That is just this side of treason, and befitting a Shakespeare tragedy. The party has no one to blame but itself for this predicament. Opportunists egged on the tea party and other right-wing radicals when it could have rejected them. Now it has to live and die with them.

Sadly, I do not see political moderation in our immediate future. Republicans spent the last four years undermining Obama, rather than working with him for the good of the country. I expect them to continue down this dead-end path after he is re-elected.

The majority of Americans are frustrated and angry, and that applies to moderates in both political parties and to independents. They want action, not ideology. They see gray, not black and white. They would rather leave issues such as abortion and gay rights to individuals to ferret out for themselves. They are frustrated by the growing gap between the super wealthy and average working Americans. They are worried about the future of health care and programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They are hungry for answers from competent leaders who put the nation’s wellbeing before their own or that of their political party.

Look around you. What do you see? Your family, your friends and your neighbors just want to get on with their lives. They are America’s realists. I believe they are willing to sacrifice to solve our nation’s problems, if only someone will speak to them in language they can understand and agree with. Our nation has done this before, and with great success. Surely we can do it again.

If you want to get your new year off to a good start. I suggest reading “That Used To Be Us” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. It is a sensible book that will help you face the facts, understand the challenges we face, and give you an optimistic view of how we can solve our nation’s problems. It’s time to replace nonsense with common sense.

December 30, 2011

TRUTH: MITT ROMNEY CAN NEVER BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Lets be real…Mitt Romney… WHY??  That is the most ironic part… Why Ironic?? Because we  are a nation that has supposedly addressed it’s biases and prejudices…. and we have not.. and it is because of these biases and prejudices that Mitt Romney will never be President of the United States of America (UNLESS a national scandal  erupts just before the election).

I am a Republican… and  I am shocked how STUPID the Republican Party has become the last  10 or 15 years… and  as if stupidity was not enough a failure to  really understand what the last presidential  election meant. and the meaning of the midterm election.

I will address my parties stupidity later.. but on to Mitt Romney… Dont get me wrong.. he is a nice guy.. good family man… but he has a major problem … and only John Kennedy overcame that type of problem 50 years ago… and even then it was because of something called charisma.. which Mitt , as nice as he may be, does not have. …. so what is this major problem Mitt Romney has that will prevent him from being the  president of the United States .. even IF he gets the Republican nomination… it is RELIGION and not just any religion… it is because he is a Mormon… and the people in this country do not know or understand what  that is…  Ohh trying to call this the Church of Jesus Christ and Later Day Saints did not help either.. makes it sound NON CHRISTIAN.

No the  Mormon religion is an albatross around Mitt Romney and the MEDIA will not talk about it because it makes them sound  like they are against  the Mormon religion. If there is anyone group to balm for the lack of understanding of the Mormon religion it is the Mormon religion itself… I believe less is known about  being a Mormon then about being a Muslim or Islamist in general…  and it is too late to educate the public. even trying to go into a place of worship when I lived in California I was told I could not go in unless I was Mormon or there was a function where  I was invited… humm did not leave a good taste in my mouth.. but I will not and have not discriminated based on this or other involvement with  followers of this religion….

The Christian coalition cannot rally  people for Mitt Romney  against Obama   this election.. at least not with enthusiasm… as Obama is a proven Christian… and Mitt Romney is not.. Ohh yes he may be.. but the PUBLIC in general will not see him that way.. and as push comes to shove over politics… being a Mormon is  going to be more of a hindrance for Mit Romney then it is  a help as being a mainstream Christian would have been.. .. in the eyes of the average American Obama was a muslim  BEFORE he became president… again stupidity…  but  also in the eyes of the average American they wonder what the F is being a mormon… and why 2 names like the Church of Jesus Christ and later day saints… and  they certainly cannot be Christian…   and now most Americans  do believe that Obama is a christian…

So simply.. ignorance, stupidity, bigotry and  prejudices will prevent Mitt Romney from being President.. and mostly because NO ONE want to talk about these issues…

Now if you ask my opinion of some of the Mormons I have encountered… that might be a different story.. but for now the story is Mitt Romney and  the Mormon religion in general and in the United States of America today…  they do not equal the ability to be President of the United States of America…  sad, but true.

AND WHAT MAKES IT EVEN MORE TROUBLING IS THE MEDIA IS AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT THIS.  It is not a fairy tale.. it is factual truth… A Mormon   running against an established christian of any other faith  has virtually no chance of being President of the United States of America

Can I fix this problem in the line of work I do… yes I think so… but I am not even sure as a Republican  that I like Mitt  as a candidate even if he were mainstream Christian Conservative…

So.. what  idiot do we as republicans have  that  I can talk about next… stay tuned as I am going to hit them all… and sadly I dont  know of any I like… so be prepared for  a through thrashing of  our idiot candidates.

Message to my republican party… GET ME A GOOD CANDIDATE OR I AM VOTING FOR OBAMA AGAIN… YES AGAIN.. MCCAIN WAS SO SO.. BUT SARAH..  COMMON MAN!!!

November 27, 2011

Egypt’s Future Uncertain

Monday November 28,2011 is supposed to be the start of Parliamentary elections and the  first real step in creating a democracy in Egypt. But the question that begs to be asked and no one seems to have the courage to ask it .. “Is Egypt ready for this First Step”.

Unfortunately I believe the answer is a resounding NO!

DO NOT misunderstand me.. I feel democracy is important for every country to have in one form or another… but to form a democracy today with the world pressuring and watching and trying to influence the direction of this process…  well it is not like what we had in the United States when we were a colony to the British…  The we were like all other countries fledglings looking for a way to  become a democracy… and even then it took years

I mean no offence to any Egyptian when I say I do not think you understand democracy yet… the voice of the people is supposed to be the voice of all the people and not just those who sing and chant and make demands  without understanding the process and the frailness of what lays before them…. a process that is  complicated by those who act lilt children in making loud demands and expecting them to be carried out

Yes the impatience is understandable.. but you have gotten what you want..  Freedom from the oppression of the Mubarak regime.. but not all the people who served under Mubarak are bad or evil.. and as such when you throw everyone out you end up with no  one who can help in this delicate and tedious process.. it is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.. it is childish and foolish and  will bring its own new set of problems and unrest in the future.

One need only look at the chaos that is still taking place in Libya to understand…. even on Morocco there is a growing fear of the changes that may take place. In Egypt you have Coptic vs. Muslim and rich against poor.. and you have a growing influence of a group that has already lied to you when they said they would only go for 40% of the parliamentary seats and now are running in practically 100% of the Parliamentary elections throughout Egypt. This rush to democracy… or at least the democratic process has not been thought out well… there is danger in rushing… yet few acknowledge this.

The people elected in this round and in Round 2 on December 16,2011 will be those who draft a NEW constitution .. will it really represent democracy.. or will it foster a new and menacing form of autocracy based in  religious fundamentalism and not freedoms of ALL the citizens of Egypt.. for is the result is not equality for EVERY citizen of Egypt then it is not democracy and you become like the Jewish State of Israel who have little tolerance for anything non Jewish in its country… 

YOU WILL BECOME WHAT YOU HATE about others… 

The people of Egypt must be aware of this possibility… and so far no one has had the adequate courage to speak and  demand these total freedoms that are the hallmark of a democratic society. 

Who will raise to the occasion and make Egypt a proud nation and unite it…. so far I have seen very few willing in doing so.. and fewer still in those that want such people to speak up… instead there are demands like a child would make for change without transition.. chaos will ensue and or that there will be no second chance… there will be decades of angst and frustration over the process BECAUSE it was not planned properly… and not only the PEOPLE of Egypt will be to blame.. but so will the rest of the western world for their arrogance in pushing Egypt to do what it is not yet ready to do in an appropriate and  orderly way. 

Flight of capital… brain drain and chaos…. is speed really worth the  damage that Egypt will suffer for the sake of a few loud  protesters who have no plan only frustration and anger??

August 6, 2011

Ravings of a Radical Republican

<em>This post is so important to me I am putting on at least 2 of my blogs. it is a work in-progress and NOT complete... my emotions and passions are so great on this that I  want to jump into the computer and bad some gigabytes into bits and bytes...  I can not reasonably finish my diatribe   at this time.. but this should give a good indication as to  what I am going to say</em>

<em>This post is so important to me I am putting on at least 2 of my blogs. it is a work in-progress and NOT complete… my emotions and passions are so great on this that I want to jump into the computer and bad some gigabytes into bits and bytes… I can not reasonably finish my diatribe at this time.. but this should give a good indication as to what I am going to say</em>

I have been a Republican my entire life. I have disagreed with my party on things like NAFTA and other trade related issues because I believed it was not good for the COUNTRY and would hurt employment.. which I think I an safely say it has. AS part of the global economy we have catered only to big business and said what we are doing was good for the consumer… OK we had lower prices because other countries could produce cheaper then we could.. but that has left this country vulnerable to things like a housing bubble and financial shenanigans that have brought this country to its knees.

I could be labeled a liberal Republican.. but more like a ultra conservative Democrat…. I guess because I believe in fairness and the human condition too much for my fellow republicans.. and that this country is not a conglomeration of BUSINESS.. but in fact a nation of PEOPLE. This COuntry is being driven into a civil war of the classes and the only thing we talk about is political positioningI am shoked that many of my fellow Republicans an be so bllind to the social problems faing this country. and I am surprised that many of the politiccians and republican pundents have not had their toungs turn black and fall out of their mouths for the lies they insist on telling to American people
to wit: 2 trillion dollars held by corportions ar not being spent because of concern over taxes.. that is utter BS… Theyy say cutting taxes will incentivize people to invest and hire more people.. THAT IS BS

over 70 percent of the US Economy is CONSUMER spending.. but if the unemployed/underemployed now at 16 PLUS perent ar not spending there is no demand for goods and services hence no company will hire even if you cut the tax rate to zero for everybody.

What this country needs more than anything right now is JOBS.. and historically in economic times like these those jobs are created by the FEDERAL government (not state Governments as they have a different role) Federal government is NOT like a household or a business… it does not operate under the same principals..

but with the federal debt soo high how an the federal government generate jobs if it is already broke.. the answer is heresy to Republicans .. well SOME (the most vocal) Republicans. we NEED MORE revenues!!

THE ONE PLACE THE vast MAJORITY OF Americans AGREE ON IS THAT A HEDGE FUND MANAGER WHO DOES nothing TO CREATE JOBS OR BUILD COMPANIES BUT MAKES MONEY solely ON TRADING IS not ENTITLED TO BE TAXED AT 15% WHILE MAKING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. while the staff employees are paying 30-40 percent in taxes.

We need to differentiate between types of Capital Gains .. ONE year investment gets lower taxes.. and short term investments pay the most taxes.. Short term investment for MOST things produces nothing (one notable exception being housing flippers who refurbish the houses to resell.)

The stock market is soo volatile BECAUSE of these hedge fund managers flipping stocks all day long and on trading platform not available to the average individual investor. UNLESS you are buying an IPO you are not helping the company whose stock you buy and sell.. you are helping yourself or the person you are buying from.. you are contributing NOTHING to the greater society. Hene you should have no tax breaks or special rewards for doing that.

Had the recent Washington Fiscal Fiasco and BS over what should have been a straight up clean bill on the debt ceiling (we are only one of 2 countries in the WORLD hat have a debt ceiling ) but had these “supposed negotiations” included REVENUES and the JOB creation by investing in the Infrastructure projects we so desperately need in this country I have no doubt that S&P would NEVER HAVE DOWNGRADED THE CREDIT Worthiness if the United States. I BLAME the TEA Party for our problems today.. and fault the Republicans for allowing a minority to shove BS down our throats and for not having the courage to do what was RIGHT.. instead my fellow Republicans catered to these radicals and did what was politically convient for them. I have no respect for my Republican Politicians who subjugated themselves to such antics and who failed the UNITED STATES and the Amerian People they are sworn to represent and defend.. and for what benefit … for political advantage? …and at what cost the least of which is your soul . .

Sorry Fellow Republicans but it is the United States GOVERNMENT and ONLY the United States Government that can start to truly bring this economic boondoggle to and end and start a real and true path to prosperity.. although I caution each and every reader.. we cannot go back to the 4-5 6 or 7 years or even longer.. those days are over UNLESS we do ONE more thing… and that will have to be a separate post… but that other thing will both help us, the housing market (BUT NOT NECESSARILY NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION) AND WILL FIX OUR DEBT PROBLEM FOR A TIME BEING WHILE WE GET REVENUES TO SUPPORT OUR OBLIGATIONS. One thing is for sure however.. what I propose is nothing less than heresy and against most Republican ideal solution

I have been a Republican my entire life. I have disagreed with my party on things like NAFTA and other trade related issues because I believed it was not good for the COUNTRY and would hurt employment.. which I think I an safely say it has. AS part of the global economy we have catered only to big business and said what we are doing was good for the consumer... OK we had lower prices because other countries could produce cheaper then we could.. but that has left this country vulnerable to things like a housing bubble and  financial shenanigans that have brought this country to its knees.

I could be labeled a liberal Republican.. but more like a ultra conservative Democrat.... I guess because I believe in fairness and the human condition too much for my fellow republicans.. and that this country is not a conglomeration of BUSINESS.. but in fact a nation of PEOPLE.  This COuntry is being driven into a civil war of the classes and  the only thing we talk about is political positioning

I am shoked that many of my fellow Republicans an be so bllind to the social problems faing this country. and  I am surprised that many of the politiccians  and republican pundents  have not had their toungs turn black and fall out of their mouths for the lies they insist on telling to American people

to wit: 2 trillion dollars held by corportions  ar not being spent because of concern over taxes.. that is utter BS... Theyy say cutting taxes will incentivize  people to invest and hire more people.. THAT IS BS

over 70 percent of the US Economy is CONSUMER spending.. but if the unemployed/underemployed  now at 16 PLUS perent ar not spending there is no demand for goods and services hence no company will hire even if you cut the tax rate to zero for everybody. 

What this country needs more than anything right now is JOBS.. and historically in economic times like these those jobs are created by the FEDERAL government (not state Governments as they have a different role) Federal government is NOT like a household or a business... it does not operate under the same principals.. 

but with the federal debt soo high how an the federal government  generate  jobs if it is already broke.. the answer is heresy to Republicans .. well SOME  (the most vocal) Republicans. we NEED MORE revenues!!

THE ONE PLACE THE vast MAJORITY OF Americans AGREE ON IS THAT A HEDGE FUND MANAGER WHO DOES nothing TO CREATE JOBS OR BUILD COMPANIES BUT MAKES MONEY solely ON TRADING IS not ENTITLED TO BE TAXED AT 15% WHILE MAKING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. while the staff employees are paying 30-40 percent in taxes.

We need to differentiate between  types of Capital Gains .. ONE year investment gets lower taxes.. and short term investments pay the most taxes.. Short term investment for MOST things produces nothing (one notable exception being housing flippers who refurbish the houses to resell.) 

The stock market is soo volatile BECAUSE of these hedge fund managers flipping stocks all day long and on trading platform not available to the average individual investor. UNLESS you are buying an IPO you are not helping the company whose stock you buy and sell.. you are helping yourself or the person you are buying from.. you are contributing NOTHING to the greater society. Hene you should have no tax breaks or special rewards for doing that. 

Had the recent Washington Fiscal Fiasco  and BS over what should have been a straight up clean bill on the debt ceiling (we are only one of 2 countries in the WORLD hat have a debt ceiling ) but had these "supposed negotiations" included REVENUES and the JOB creation  by investing in the Infrastructure projects we so desperately need in this country I have no doubt that S&P would NEVER HAVE DOWNGRADED THE CREDIT Worthiness if the United States.  I BLAME the TEA Party for our problems today.. and fault the Republicans for allowing a minority to shove BS down our throats and for not having the courage to do what  was RIGHT.. instead my fellow Republicans catered to these radicals and did what was politically convient  for them. I have no respect for my Republican   Politicians who subjugated themselves to such antics and who failed the UNITED STATES and the Amerian People they are sworn to represent and defend.. and for what benefit ... for political advantage? ...and at what cost the least of which is your soul  . . 

Sorry Fellow Republicans but it is the United States GOVERNMENT and ONLY the United States Government that can  start to truly bring this economic boondoggle  to and end and start a real and true path to prosperity.. although I caution each and every reader.. we cannot go back to the  4-5 6 or 7 years or even longer..  those days are over UNLESS we do ONE more thing... and that will have to be a separate post... but  that other thing will both help us, the housing market (BUT NOT NECESSARILY NEW HOME  CONSTRUCTION) AND WILL FIX OUR DEBT PROBLEM FOR A TIME BEING WHILE WE GET REVENUES TO SUPPORT OUR OBLIGATIONS.  One thing is for sure however.. what I propose is nothing less than heresy and against most Republican ideal solution

January 11, 2009

2009 Economic Predictions by Craig Eisele


2009 Economic projections by Craig Eisele

Note: the following is MY opinion and how I see the economy… it should not be considered investment advice or factual as to the actual performance of the US and Global Economies in 2009.

If you do not want to hear bad news I strongly suggest you stop reading at this point and read a good fiction book….or watch Kudlow on CNBC who is more of a cheerleader then as realist…. Although a caution as to the rest of the CNBC team as they seem to realize more the current economic realities.

One of the greatest threats we face is Deflation during this recession… WHY?? Because the economic definition of a DEPRESSION is Recession accompanied by Deflation… BUT do not expect the government to say we are in a Depression until it is either over or is so evident that denying it would be fruitless. The government is afraid to start any panic as to the true severity of this crisis we are in and as such will try to protect the citizens as long as possible from the hard realities.

Before this economic crises is over I believe that we will see history actually show that we have or will have had entered into a Depression…. The only question is: for how long.

In the United States approximately 70 percent of our economy is based upon Consumer spending…  as such Particular attention will be paid to that segment of the economy.

Estimates so far are that at least 70,000 retail locations are expected to close in 2009. Personally I see that number even higher and expect over 100,000. Thus higher unemployment will occur.

Personal savings rate will continue to be negative throughout the year with rare occurrence of it turning positive.

Over all the consumer is being hit with rising prices from the Summer 08 Oil Prices and those prices have not come down in tandem with Oil. Corporations are struggling to meet cash flow needs and turn profits for their shareholders and as such are reluctant to lower prices.

Credit will not loosen very much in 2009… Credit card companies will continue to reduce credit limits (2 Trillion dollars so far) and will raise interest rates on balances even for the slightest blemish or down grading of your credit. Keeping your credit cards in the back of a drawer and NOT canceling them is advisable.

Expect Congress to address these issues in Credit Card operations and policies in 2009 in an attempt to protect consumers a bit better… but high expectations for relief should be discouraged because of the powerful lobbying teams of Banks and other financial institutions. Result Consumers will and should pay down more of their debt and spend less thus creating Consumer slow down in spending in 2009.

Oil Prices will NOT stay low for long. Oil Producing Countries need the revenue for their own countries economies…. Demand may be down globally but the minimum necessary price is 45 dollars a barrel while countries like Venezuela, Iran, Russia etc require upwards of 70 dollars a barrel to keep their domestic programs going and to maintain their economies. Expect Oil close to or above 100 dollars a barrel by the end of 2009 based upon the needs of the Oil Producing Countries.

Job Loss and fear of Job Loss with hamper Consumer Spending even farther. This includes areas like housing and Auto sales as well.

Credit availability for Housing will be tight for many years to come. Impeccable credit and a hefty down payment  of 20 percent or more,will be required as it was over a decade ago. The result will be a continuing deflation in Housing prices and no bottom expected until mid 2010. These expectations of losing money on a new home purchase will also keep many buyers on the sidelines.

Credit will also suffer because of continued required write-downs by Mortgage holders and those holding the Mortgage backed securities. Expect the Foreclosure rate to keep high thus flooding the market with additional homes. This credit problem will be further exacerbated by rises in Commercial Mortgage defaults. Particularly in Retail Commercial properties.

The measure of companies with retail locations in terms of profitability will be changed. MOST leases no Commercial Property like retail are triple net… meaning that the tenants are responsible to paying a pro rated share based upon occupancy of leased space for Utilities, Taxes and maintenance. The additional burden placed upon them buy the loss of other retailers coupled by decreasing sales will cause more stores to close. Currently the VACANCY rate in retail locations is at 8.2%. That will continue to rise throughout 2009.

Commercial Mortgages are often done with long amortization rates meaning 10 to 30 years mortgage payment rates, with a balloon payment (the full balance of the Loan) due after 5 years. As properties increased in value and occupancy rates were high and credit was readily available this was not a concern. Today, however, those criteria for refinancing can no longer be met by most mall operators or owners of other retail properties. Even the Commercial office space Market will be effected.

Loss of retail also usually has a negative effect in Commercial Office space… and even the A class properties are now feeing the potential problems growing. Expect an increase in “services” oriented companies across the USA and several hundred thousand jobs lost as a result, many of which do not and will not qualify for unemployment compensation to help them.

The stock markets will continue to act in a volatile and irrational way. Over reaction to perceived good news and bad news will move the market in triple digits and randomly. If you are brave and can wait 10 years or more for profits then now is the time to buy select companies that may recover faster as the economy bottoms and flattens in 2010.

Federal funds rate will not be increased for the first half of 2009, but may have a slight increase of 0.25 to0.50 in the second half of 2009 and into 2010 as the dollar weakens and the need to strengthen the dollar increases.

The need to have safety for cash will continue to hold the Treasury Bonds yield down to hover at or near zero as banks are not considered safe enough and consumers are fearful.

Bank Write offs will continue and the biggest shocks to the market will be in Commercial backed mortgages as well as increased Credit Card default rate as climbing interest rates and lack of credit availability will force consumers into decisions that will not factor most creditors.

Housing prices will continue to decline throughout 2009. Lack of demand and increased inventories by those underwater on their mortgages and those foreclosed upon homes, and the lack of credit and the return to the requirements of old with 20 percent or more down and verifiable rations of income to mortgage payments as well as HIGH credit scores… all combined will be a continued drag in the housing market and will even affect places like New York City on 2009 through at least the first half of 1020.

Retirees will delay their retirement and the “equity” they thought they had in their homes and the devastation to their retirement funds will be so bad as to force more people to work longer and will contribute to the lack of available jobs for younger people.

Unemployment will rise to double digits…. Most likely to around 11 percent official and 17 percent unofficial Unemployed people will number more than 18 million people.  Currently the Unemployment are has gone over 7.2%. I expect that before we flatten out that number will grow to close to 11 percent. Currently the number of those unemployed is over 6 million…. but those numbers a skewed to those who qualified for unemployment and or are seeking employment actively.  The REAL number of unemployed is substantially higher if the number of those underemployed, working only part time, or who have given up looking for work are included. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose to 2.6 million in December and was up by 1.3 million in 2008.

Bankruptcies will hit all time highs both for individuals and Businesses.

The Auto Industry: This is the hardest to predict in some ways. BUT… Knowing that credit is hard to get to purchase an automobile, and that demand is down because individual consumers are feeling the economic pinch and are concerned about their declining home and retirement values, and compounded by job uncertainty will make any recover of the Auto Industry in general almost impossible in 2009. While most of us abhor the idea that the “Big Three” in Detroit may declare bankruptcy. I see no choice especially given the legacy costs of pensions and health care that hurts their price competitiveness. Premium prices for things like the Chevy VOLT or other fuel-efficient cars will not me tolerated by a price sensitive consumer market in these economic times. Therefore the demand that Auto Makes produce these cars, while admirable, is not productive to the automotive industry recovery at this time.

The result of the above will be continued declines and flattening of the Auto sales, which of course, contributes considerably to the GDP of the United States. A downward spiral that cannot be stopped without bankruptcy to protect those companies and jobs till the economy flattens out and hopefully and gradually raises enough to spur more automobile sales.  Bottom line…. expect one or more of the Detroit 3 to declare bankruptcy in 2009.

GDP Contraction 5 % or more: I hope this is self evident given what I have already written…. the ONLY way this will not happen in 2009 is if we devalue our dollar by printing more money…. but that results in hyper inflation and higher prices which would artificially make our GDP that much higher.

Federal budget deficit of 1 trillion and growing to possibly 2 TRILLION as the need for spending like the years of Roosevelt in the New Deal Era increases and as the concession to business for tax rates being the same or even lower taxes are made and the revenue for the US Government continues to decline from Lower profit, less payroll tax income and growing social programs to assist the impoverished. The NATIONAL DEBT will run higher than 12 trillion dollars UNLESS the government prints more money…. but that will further weaken the value of the US dollar. A delicate trade off that has to be dealt with in 2009.

LOWER corporate taxes and/or Capital Gains in a declining economy will NOT spur employment or Investment in Pant or equipment. The only people who will possibly benefit are those who own stocks in those companies. And even then the benefits will be minimal. Worse the Down side is lower revenue for the government in a time when spending must be increased to spur economic recovery.

Globally expect more instability in under-developed countries. Poverty, starvation and generally declining conditions in these countries will give rise to radical idealists who will create chaos and instability in those countries. Antagonistic behavior towards those industrialized countries that are seen as culprits in this economic crisis will be the most villianized. Terrorism abroad will increase in response to the frustration and need to blame someone increases.

Currency fluctuations will be as common as weather changes during 2009. 30-day moves can exceed 15 percent and daily moves may be as much as 5 percent. Thus this will make international business more volatile and difficult to conduct.

Parity with Euro and British Pound is possible given the currency fluctuation at this time only a 10 percent difference exists between the 2 currencies. Briton will continue to decline as the full effects of their new economy that was built on the financial sector and debt continues to play out.  France and Germany have yet to feel the real impact of what is happening globally and as such have been the prop to the Euro over the last year. The EU’s efforts to prop up Eastern European Counties with bailouts will have little effect on the full impact of the global recession. Ultimately the Euro will have to decline in value.

Weaken of the dollar … then strengthen and weakening. The Japanese Yen, the Euro, and the British Pound with fluctuate so much that any stability for the dollar will have to come from the USA itself. However that appears unlikely until the USA takes drastic steps to stem the bleeding and ultimately devalues the dollar.

EU predictions Italy and possibly Spain: I expect al least Italy to go back to the Lira and to try an peg the Lira to the Euro to allow it to re-enter the EU Euro denomination Currency in a few years. This will be necessary as the Italian economy and the EU regulations are in conflict and Italy cannot meet the EU demands for economic reform to satisfy the EU regulations. Spain faces the same situation.

France and German Social programs will be the downfall of these economies. With a global recession and decline in local economies the demand for these generous programs will go to an all time high and will send them into a deeper recession as they struggle to balance budgets and stem spending.

China will see continued decline in growth based upon the global economy. It is unclear if their domestic consumption can make up for the downturn. It may now feel the effect of the lack of a substantial Middle class and sustainable consumer base

India is just now feeling the effects, and as global outsourcing to India shrinks, and the allegations that the financial accounting is being doctored by some to keep showing profits surface. The “middle class” is mostly dependent on the global outsourcing in areas of IT and calling centers, which are declining rapidly. India will experience a recession that is severe and has potentially serious consequences on its economic stability.

It seems inevitable that the United States Government will be forced in 2009 or early 2010 to print more Dollars, to buy its own debt and to pay for spending programs as debt is not being bought by most companies or countries or even individuals. Hence a devaluation of the dollar… expect Euro and Pound to follow and a period of hyper inflation accompanied by higher interest rates when that happens.

I was reluctant to write this piece as I hoed to see more indications that things would improve…. However, that has not happened and the result is a significant delay in my predictions.

I hope I am just a pessimist.. however at this time I think I am more of a realist in how things are at this point in time. Things CAN change.. and my predictions can be totally wrong. But for that to happen requires political will and individual determination….And I see no signs of that at this time.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my assessments made her.. YOU must decide for your self what you need to do if this scenario does take place… or if it does not. These are things the way I see them and should NOT be taken as factual or advice to anyone.

Craig Eisele

2009 Economic projections by Craig Eisele

Note: the following is MY opinion and how I see the economy… it should not be considered investment advice or factual as to the actual performance of the US and Global Economies in 2009.

If you do not want to hear bad news I strongly suggest you stop reading at this point and read a good fiction book….or watch Kudlow on CNBC who is more of a cheerleader then as realist…. Although a caution as to the rest of the CNBC team as they seem to realize more the current economic realities.

One of the greatest threats we face is Deflation during this recession… WHY?? Because the economic definition of a DEPRESSION is Recession accompanied by Deflation… BUT do not expect the government to say we are in a Depression until it is either over or is so evident that denying it would be fruitless. The government is afraid to start any panic as to the true severity of this crisis we are in and as such will try to protect the citizens as long as possible from the hard realities.

Before this economic crises is over I believe that we will see history actually show that we have or will have had entered into a Depression…. The only question is: for how long.

In the United States approximately 70 percent of our economy is based upon Consumer spending…  as such Particular attention will be paid to that segment of the economy.

Estimates so far are that at least 70,000 retail locations are expected to close in 2009. Personally I see that number even higher and expect over 100,000. Thus higher unemployment will occur.

Personal savings rate will continue to be negative throughout the year with rare occurrence of it turning positive.

Over all the consumer is being hit with rising prices from the Summer 08 Oil Prices and those prices have not come down in tandem with Oil. Corporations are struggling to meet cash flow needs and turn profits for their shareholders and as such are reluctant to lower prices.

Credit will not loosen very much in 2009… Credit card companies will continue to reduce credit limits (2 Trillion dollars so far) and will raise interest rates on balances even for the slightest blemish or down grading of your credit. Keeping your credit cards in the back of a drawer and NOT canceling them is advisable.

Expect Congress to address these issues in Credit Card operations and policies in 2009 in an attempt to protect consumers a bit better… but high expectations for relief should be discouraged because of the powerful lobbying teams of Banks and other financial institutions. Result Consumers will and should pay down more of their debt and spend less thus creating Consumer slow down in spending in 2009.

Oil Prices will NOT stay low for long. Oil Producing Countries need the revenue for their own countries economies…. Demand may be down globally but the minimum necessary price is 45 dollars a barrel while countries like Venezuela, Iran, Russia etc require upwards of 70 dollars a barrel to keep their domestic programs going and to maintain their economies. Expect Oil close to or above 100 dollars a barrel by the end of 2009 based upon the needs of the Oil Producing Countries.

Job Loss and fear of Job Loss with hamper Consumer Spending even farther. This includes areas like housing and Auto sales as well

Credit availability for Housing will be tight for many years to come. Impeccable credit and a hefty down payment opf 20% or more, will be required as it was over a decade ago. The result will be a continuing deflation in Housing prices and no bottom expected until mid 2010. These expectations of losing money on a new home purchase will also keep many buyers on the sidelines.

Credit will also suffer because of continued required write-downs by Mortgage holders and those holding the Mortgage backed securities. Expect the Foreclosure rate to keep high thus flooding the market with additional homes. This credit problem will be further exacerbated by rises in Commercial Mortgage defaults. Particularly in Retail Commercial properties.

The measure of companies with retail locations in terms of profitability will be changed. MOST leases no Commercial Property like retail are triple net… meaning that the tenants are responsible to paying a pro rated share based upon occupancy of leased space for Utilities, Taxes and maintenance. The additional burden placed upon them buy the loss of other retailers coupled by decreasing sales will cause more stores to close. Currently the VACANCY rate in retail locations is at 8.2%. That will continue to rise throughout 2009.

Commercial Mortgages are often done with long amortization rates meaning 10 to 30 years mortgage payment rates, with a balloon payment (the full balance of the Loan) due after 5 years. As properties increased in value and occupancy rates were high and credit was readily available this was not a concern. Today, however, those criteria for refinancing can no longer be met by most mall operators or owners of other retail properties. Even the Commercial office space Market will be effected.

Loss of retail also usually has a negative effect in Commercial Office space… and even the A class properties are now feeing the potential problems growing. Expect an increase in “services” oriented companies across the USA and several hundred thousand jobs lost as a result, many of which do not and will not qualify for unemployment compensation to help them.

The stock markets will continue to act in a volatile and irrational way. Over reaction to perceived good news and bad news will move the market in triple digits and randomly. If you are brave and can wait 10 years or more for profits then now is the time to buy select companies that may recover faster as the economy bottoms and flattens in 2010.

Federal funds rate will not be increased for the first half of 2009, but may have a slight increase of 0.25 to 0.50 in the second half of 2009 and into 2010 as the dollar weakens and the need to strengthen the dollar increases.

The need to have safety for cash will continue to hold the Treasury Bonds yield down to hover at or near zero as banks are not considered safe enough and consumers are fearful.

Bank Write offs will continue and the biggest shocks to the market will be in Commercial backed mortgages as well as increased Credit Card default rate as climbing interest rates and lack of credit availability will force consumers into decisions that will not factor most creditors.

Housing prices will continue to decline throughout 2009. Lack of demand and increased inventories by those underwater on their mortgages and those foreclosed upon homes, and the lack of credit and the return to the requirements of old with 20 percent or more down and verifiable rations of income to mortgage payments as well as HIGH credit scores… all combined will be a continued drag in the housing market and will even affect places like New York City on 2009 through at least the first half of 1020.

Retirees will delay their retirement and the “equity” they thought they had in their homes and the devastation to their retirement funds will be so bad as to force more people to work longer and will contribute to the lack of available jobs for younger people.

Unemployment will rise to double digits…. Most likely to around 11 percent official and 17 percent unofficial Unemployed people will number more than 18 million people.  Currently the Unemployment are has gone over 7.2%. I expect that before we flatten out that number will grow to close to 11 percent. Currently the number of those unemployed is over 6 million…. but those numbers a skewed to those who qualified for unemployment and or are seeking employment actively.  The REAL number of unemployed is substantially higher if the number of those underemployed, working only part time, or who have given up looking for work are included. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) rose to 2.6 million in December and was up by 1.3 million in 2008.

Bankruptcies will hit all time highs both for individuals and Businesses.

The Auto Industry: This is the hardest to predict in some ways. BUT… Knowing that credit is hard to get to purchase an automobile, and that demand is down because individual consumers are feeling the economic pinch and are concerned about their declining home and retirement values, and compounded by job uncertainty will make any recover of the Auto Industry in general almost impossible in 2009. While most of us abhor the idea that the “Big Three” in Detroit may declare bankruptcy. I see no choice especially given the legacy costs of pensions and health care that hurts their price competitiveness. Premium prices for things like the Chevy VOLT or other fuel-efficient cars will not me tolerated by a price sensitive consumer market in these economic times. Therefore the demand that Auto Makes produce these cars, while admirable, is not productive to the automotive industry recovery at this time.

The result of the above will be continued declines and flattening of the Auto sales, which of course, contributes considerably to the GDP of the United States. A downward spiral that cannot be stopped without bankruptcy to protect those companies and jobs till the economy flattens out and hopefully and gradually raises enough to spur more automobile sales.  Bottom line…. expect one or more of the Detroit 3 to declare bankruptcy in 2009.

GDP Contraction 5 % or more: I hope this is self evident given what I have already written…. the ONLY way this will not happen in 2009 is if we devalue our dollar by printing more money…. but that results in hyper inflation and higher prices which would artificially make our GDP that much higher.

Federal budget deficit of 1 trillion and growing to possibly 2 TRILLION as the need for spending like the years of Roosevelt in the New Deal Era increases and as the concession to business for tax rates being the same or even lower taxes are made and the revenue for the US Government continues to decline from Lower profit, less payroll tax income and growing social programs to assist the impoverished. The NATIONAL DEBT will run higher than 12 trillion dollars UNLESS the government prints more money…. but that will further weaken the value of the US dollar. A delicate trade off that has to be dealt with in 2009.

LOWER corporate taxes and/or Capital Gains in a declining economy will NOT spur employment or Investment in Pant or equipment. The only people who will possibly benefit are those who own stocks in those companies. And even then the benefits will be minimal. Worse the Down side is lower revenue for the government in a time when spending must be increased to spur economic recovery.

Globally expect more instability in under-developed countries. Poverty, starvation and generally declining conditions in these countries will give rise to radical idealists who will create chaos and instability in those countries. Antagonistic behavior towards those industrialized countries that are seen as culprits in this economic crisis will be the most villianized. Terrorism abroad will increase in response to the frustration and need to blame someone increases.

Currency fluctuations will be as common as weather changes during 2009. 30-day moves can exceed 15 percent and daily moves may be as much as 5 percent. Thus this will make international business more volatile and difficult to conduct.

Parity with Euro and British Pound is possible given the currency fluctuation at this time only a 10 percent difference exists between the 2 currencies. Briton will continue to decline as the full effects of their new economy that was built on the financial sector and debt continues to play out.  France and Germany have yet to feel the real impact of what is happening globally and as such have been the prop to the Euro over the last year. The EU’s efforts to prop up Eastern European Counties with bailouts will have little effect on the full impact of the global recession. Ultimately the Euro will have to decline in value.

Weaken of the dollar … then strengthen and weakening. The Japanese Yen, the Euro, and the British Pound with fluctuate so much that any stability for the dollar will have to come from the USA itself. However that appears unlikely until the USA takes drastic steps to stem the bleeding and ultimately devalues the dollar.

EU predictions Italy and possibly Spain: I expect al least Italy to go back to the Lira and to try an peg the Lira to the Euro to allow it to re-enter the EU Euro denomination Currency in a few years. This will be necessary as the Italian economy and the EU regulations are in conflict and Italy cannot meet the EU demands for economic reform to satisfy the EU regulations. Spain faces the same situation.

France and German Social programs will be the downfall of these economies. With a global recession and decline in local economies the demand for these generous programs will go to an all time high and will send them into a deeper recession as they struggle to balance budgets and stem spending.

China will see continued decline in growth based upon the global economy. It is unclear if their domestic consumption can make up for the downturn. It may now feel the effect of the lack of a substantial Middle class and sustainable consumer base

India is just now feeling the effects, and as global outsourcing to India shrinks, and the allegations that the financial accounting is being doctored by some to keep showing profits surface. The “middle class” is mostly dependent on the global outsourcing in areas of IT and calling centers, which are declining rapidly. India will experience a recession that is severe and has potentially serious consequences on its economic stability.

It seems inevitable that the United States Government will be forced in 2009 or early 2010 to print more Dollars, to buy its own debt and to pay for spending programs as debt is not being bought by most companies or countries or even individuals. Hence a devaluation of the dollar… expect Euro and Pound to follow and a period of hyper inflation accompanied by higher interest rates when that happens.

I was reluctant to write this piece as I hoed to see more indications that things would improve…. However, that has not happened and the result is a significant delay in my predictions.

I hope I am just a pessimist.. however at this time I think I am more of a realist in how things are at this point in time. Things CAN change.. and my predictions can be totally wrong. But for that to happen requires political will and individual determination….And I see no signs of that at this time.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my assessments made her.. YOU must decide for your self what you need to do if this scenario does take place… or if it does not. These are things the way I see them and should NOT be taken as factual or advice to anyone.

Craig Eisele


October 10, 2008

7500 DOW Possible??

The simple answer is YES!!!

I know I wrote in December 2007 that I expected a 9,000 DOW and believed that an 8,000 Dow is where I said it should be… but 7,500 is panic and that is what I am seeing around the world… people are afraid… plain and simple.

DO NOT sell you 401K or other funds now… it is far too late for you to do that… your best bet is to hold on and try to read and watch something other than economic news… at least until AFTER the election.

I am working on my economic predictions for the rest of 2008 and 2009… and in some cases even into 2010. I should release that November 5 or 6, AFTER the Elections… there is nothing good in store… except that we will know more about where our Government is taking us… and at least THAT will restore some stability to the financial markets in the USA and give a good indication of the future of the economic health of the Country.

You will see great swings in the market… mostly down for now… but you will get high upswings as well… do not take any of these seriously at this point… we really are at about the right pricing given the full economic data….

Additionally you will see a more bad economic news and then a few good pieces… but overall it is glum out there… so stop reading things like this and others and concentrate on what is important to you.. your life and your family… the rest will settle out soon… just not as soon as you would like.

Craig

NOTE:  This is MY OPINION. I make no assurances of this actually being the way the market will go. You should do your own research and make your own informed decisions!!!

June 7, 2008

Craig’s Diatribe on the USA and Global Economy (# 2)

Craig’s Diatribe on the USA and Global Economy (# 2)

June 6, 2008

This blog entry (number 2 in a series) is to try and express my viewpoints on the current state of the USA Economy, my predictions for the future and how we are no longer a localized economy but now are part of a GLOBAL economy.

Where are we NOW? Commodity Prices:

Before I go into the Global Economy for Commodities and Fuel/power Prices I need to say that a LOT (maybe as much as one third in some cases) of the increase of Costs is from the weak dollar … as such, most of this post is dedicated to the supply and demand issues of the global econony.

The has been great interest in Oil prices… as well as there should be… I talked about Oil being in our everyday life before… as a commodity…. But I need to address some misconceptions about what the general public believes about the Price of Oil today.

First: OIL IS A COMMODITY… that means the prices are subject to supply and demand…. There is NO QUESTION that China and India play a significant role in the new use of oil… as a fuel and as a commodity for other applications…. This is a result of the rest of the world using those countries for lower prices thus bring in more Currency (Money) into those countries and lifting them out of the poverty (and to satisfy our own greed for more at lower prices and greater profits) that we saw them suffering from… now that we have awoken the sleeping giant, so to speak, there is no putting them back to sleep. They will continue to demand oil and other commodities at an ever increasing rate of consumption.

We have been duped into believing that “Speculators” are to blame for higher prices… if South West Airlines is a speculator then you are right… but the reality is that it is GLOBAL DEMAND that pays these exorbitant prices we are seeing… and as I said before… there is NO GOING BACK.

IF we produce more oil it will only keep up with the demand worldwide. While it may make us less dependent on oil for our own needs the prices we will pay in the USA will be based upon WORLD PRICES… not our domestic (USA) production. To believe otherwise is just foolish. Additionally, currently we are importing only about 30 percent of our domestic needs.

We are not entitled to lower fuel prices… it is what it is and we will not sell for less than the world price unless we become a socialist society and subsidize our oil… and that will never happen… or at least I hope we will never become a socialist country. Our sense of entitlement is what is causing a great many problems for us in this country today… and it needs to be put into proper perspective.

Many Americans want to know why China or India Consumption of oil is hurting us here… it is simply business…. I business you do not want to hear about but at least need to understand….The companies that drill for oil are not federal Government Oil Companies… they are in the business to make money… the basic model of Business is that thing called supply and demand… Because I drill and pump crude oil in the USA does not mean that I am obligated by any law to sell it in the USA… as a businessman when I get something out of the ground I can sell it to the highest bidder…. If the USA does not want my product but someone in another country wants it… then I am entitles to sell it to any country (with few exception) I want to … THAT IS BUSINESS. To expect that I should sell it to you at any cheaper price is unreasonable… and bad business… and since these companies that do pump crude oil have other people who own stock (real ownership) of their companies… then they have a legal (fiduciary) obligation to maximize profits for their owners… remember again… we are NOT a socialist Country. Additionally to punish me for selling at the market price with a windfall profits tax is unreasonable… you may not like my profits… but they are legitimate and are mine… additionally I will increase prices to compensate for the “surcharge” tax on my profits.

If we really want Oil Companies to become energy companies then we need to develop incentives to foster the Oil Companies to become “Energy Companies” release in the Fall of 2008….

As I said you did not want to hear that… but those are the basic facts of life today, as we know them! Painful is it not?? Yet this has been the standard model of capitalism for hundreds of years and is not going to change anytime soon.

The same is true of cheap food and household energy use and even in other commodities like gold and Steel and copper (used in your wiring I might add) (I will address health care in another post… and you will NOT like what I have to tell you there either).

The ONLY way of getting a better price is to strengthen the dollar… but our past practices in our country have caught up with us and now we have financial troubles with Credit availability (after years of easy credit) and even with interest rates low we are not able to get the benefits of those cheap rates. Yet is we raise interest rates to fight the higher costs (also known as inflation) we will cause greater harm to the overall economy… the government and the Federal Reserve are in quite a conundrum and there is no quick fix to this problem of a stringer dollar… so do NOT anticipate things getting better quickly.

As bad as things are now they will get better based upon what has already happened… and I fear for many Americans with the Winter Heating Season just ahead (yes we are actually almost there and it is only the beginning of summer) as any American who drives to work and makes less than 40,000 per year per household will find themselves financially in the red (to me this is the new Poverty level in the USA). Elderly Americans on fixed incomes will suffer the most and the Cost of Living adjustments are not accurately reflection the actual increase of cost on the average family… and how can they when the supposed US Index for the Average hourly wage is over 17 dollars an hour…. That shows how skewed the Inflation indexes are by the number of “high wage” earners there are in this country… it is, simply, out of control.

In a future post I will give the bad news … I NOW expect oil to reach 250 dollars a barrel by sometime in 2010… unless the dollar gets better fast…. However with the choices for president and the policies I see coming down the road… that may not be able to be done (remember the discussion on Fiscal and Monetary policy and the effects). Hence 5 dollar a gallon gas will be cheap by comparison…

Corn Prices :

When we find other uses for Commodities outside the normal and regular use we create a demand for additional supply of that commodity. Corn, however, has had a double whammy effect. Yes I am talking first about Global Demand… Most of us think of corn as a food product for our table in many different forms…. Many of us forget that beef and chicken and even pork is raised for slaughter through the use of “feed corn” for them to consume to get these products…. Now also remember that farmers have limited amount of land to use… they also want to get the most out of every acre of land they farm… and currently feed corn is a great provider of revenue.

AS we increased the standard of living for impoverished countries like India and China… they consumption patters changed…. Meaning they now eat more of the Meats I described above…. Those meats also require the feed corn to produce. …Hence demand for feed corn went up and farmers produced more feed corn as a result.

The second whammy was the production (and subsidy by our government) of Ethanol. This non-food use for Corn drove the demand beyond the normal supply and demand curve and as we have seen dramatically increased prices… while the effectiveness of using Ethanol is being debated and alternatives are being developed this demand will not come down and prices will remain high.

What has surprised me about this is, that it was not expected by so many people…. Using a food in a way that is not a food product would naturally increase the demand for that product. As a note…. using Sugar Cane for ethanol will also raise food prices… yet the government may be more willing to do this because of the health consequences of sugar (yes gaining weight).

Corn prices are a direct result of GLOBAL DEMAND and the traditional supply and demand pricing but in a global context.

Energy Costs:

Generally we think of energy as the gasoline we put into our cars. This is true but we consume electricity in ever greater quantities then ever before. Heating, Air-conditioning, lighting TV’s Computers… ALL requiring Energy…. Energy is derived from many sources… Nuclear is being touted as a future provider of energy to wean us off of fossil fuels… but the COST to produce which is said to be low… will NOT reflect in lower prices to the Consumer…. The pricing index will show that they will sell this energy at lose to the same price as Coal or Diesel or natural gas plants… this seems to be the case with Hydro electric now. OLD power plants, are increasing prices, because of consumption, they are not lowering them. Yes the prices of oil and Coal have a lot to do with the international (Global) demand… and the prices have been going up dramatically…. So while we like to think we are better off with “alternative Fuels” and Alternative generation facilities” we are kidding ourselves if we think that will reduce our costs by very much at all… Making electricity… the production of power is a business and as such they obligation is to get the highest price for the product as possible. WE are not entitled to lower power costs!

Electricity is a produced commodity from a natural resource commodity…. At least for now.

Post #3 will be about credit, housing prices and maybe the stock market and Global Currencies

If you have been reading these posts… I will eventually get to the part where I make recommendations for the future… but I still need to explain more about where are are and how we got here.

Craig Eisele

March 31, 2008

Clothing Prices Poised to Rise Dramatically

Most of the people who read this will not remember the oil embargo of the Early 70′s when lines at the gas stations stretched for blocks on end.

What many who do remember will have forgotten is the increase in clothing prices. Why? Well at the time “polyester” was the “miracle” fabric of the day. In fact most synthetic fibers used in clothing are made from OIL. And as we all know Oil prices have increased dramatically.

According to today’s farm planting reports being released, farmers are going to plant less cotton this year. Cotton is the other significant component of clothing. Hence when the next harvest of cotton is made there will be higher prices. Higher because of the amount of cotton available… but also higher because of the demands moving from high priced “synthetics” to “lower priced” Cotton. But as I have already indicated Cotton will also cost more.

The lower value of the dollar around the world will also begin to have this effect on Clothing manufacturing and prices. While the price of labor is cheaper abroad generally, the exchange rate of the dollar for the foreign countries currency is declining against them and they will be forced to raise their prices to pay their people and to sustain profits.

That means it will cost more to buy clothing not just for yourself but for your children. That means a tighter budget and that dreaded word “Inflation”.

It is not just your clothing that will cost more. The cost of plastics has yet to be passed on completely to the consumer goods market. And all you have to do is look at that commercial showing everything disappearing because of no oil… now you just have to increase the price because the oil will be available but will cost more.

We have yet to see the real cost of this inflation from Oil Prices to Aluminum to Steel and Copper. These are commodities that have built our “modern” society and are critical to our society as we know it.

I am not trying to scare you about the future. I AM trying to warn those of you who care about the future and urge you to take appropriate steps to be prepared for these inevitable events as I do not see an easing of this anytime in the near future.

December 25, 2007

More 2008 Predictions from Craig Eisele

2009 Predictions can be found at:

https://craigeisele.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/2009-economic-predictions-by-craig-eisele/

The below was written on December 25, 2007 for 2008:

More 2008 Predictions from Craig Eisele:

RETAIL: As I write this the bulls are still either saying it is a good season or hoping that last minute shoppers will make it one. Lets look at this in another way. I have been shopping EVERY weekend from Thanksgiving on… and what I have seen is dismal. This year, I have NEVER had to look for a parking space or needed to walk from the far end of the parking lot… I have seen LESS people in the Mall this year and many many more sales. Sometimes so bad I thought that it was March weekend shopping (meaning low numbers of people). I was extremely unhappy with FoxBusiness TV today when the announcer in a shopping mall was saying that the people were starting to flood in and I barely saw 10 people shopping in a wide-angle shot. Only later did ONE gust on the show tell it like it is… MANY of the retail Companies are having LOWER sales… and those sales that are moving are either in Electronics (lower profit margins) or in SALE merchandise… hence LOWER Profit margins… so even if you see higher sales… which is unlikely… the PROFITS WILL BE LOWER!

Credit Card Evaluation by Moody’s is showing a huge number of defaults in the 90 day ranges… and as those of you with Credit Cards you will know that ONE missed payment can mean a jump to 29 percent annual interest rates or higher. Capital One and Bank of America are shown as being at worse rates and possible doubling since their October numbers in their November reports. This does not bode well for Retail and some say as much as two thirds of our economy is consumer spending driven.

Remember that Saving Rates in the USA are AGAIN Negative (meaning we are spending more than we are making), Homeowners no longer have access to their home equity that they had in the past because of declining values and Credit card companies have been increasing interest rates based on your total credit report meaning that if you take out another credit card or even cancel some credit cards or are late on payment to ANY other creditor you can be hit with high interest rates on your credit card balance.

Because of the new bankruptcy laws these credit cards may still have to be paid off entirely but your interest payment may be stopped…. I predict a change in the Laws by a Democratic Congress to make it easier to have these and Mortgage related debts forgiven to better protect the consumer and to allow for MORE consumer spending fostering a recover in the economy. This does not favor the Financial Companies.

Talking about Financial’s… there is great excitement about foreign funds coming to the rescue of the various Financial Businesses… but what you generally do not hear is the COST of those investment… many are for PREFERRED STOCK…. With GUARANTEED rates of 8 to 12 percent… remember that Preferred Stock Holders are often given their payments before there is dividends to the Common Stock holders… and there are still more write offs to come for many companies.

Personally as I said earlier the “credit” market especially for the consumers will be tight and unless you have stellar credit there is most likely no way you will get a loan or if you do your rates will be high. Even Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac have indicated continued price and value declines through 2008 and MAYBE a slow recovery starting in 2009. When Housing prices do go up (and some analysts and pundits say the opposite of me here) the price increase will be slow because of the Credit requirements that will have to be slowly reduced as well as many people who will be wary of a repeat of the last 2 years and finding out that it is actually CHEAPER to Rent a home than to own it and risk their equity on another potential downturn. And for Zero Down Mortgages.. forget it… those days better be over!!

Simply ALL of those rosy predictions of a good 2008 are for the benefit of companies who want to keep your money in stocks without regard to the real possibility that this economy is in for a rocky 2008.

Recession: Do not expect to be told that this economy is in a recession until it is either extremely sever or until there is a reversal of the current trend, at which time you will be told that we WERE in a Recession. The “powers” behind the Financial information as well as the Government does not believe you are rational human beings capable of knowing the truth until after the fact. They are afraid you will panic and that is not good for business. Right or wrong that seems to be the way the general population of the United States is treated.

I stand by my predictions in the previous post, for the Euro vs. Dollar exchange and the price of Oil for 2008.

Craig Eisele

December 4, 2007

World Grows Jealous as China Courts Africa

China Courts Africa – Who is Jealous Now?

The New Times (Kigali)
EDITORIAL
5 November 2007
Posted to the web 5 November 2007
Kigali
The Chinese Acting Ambassador to Rwanda, His Excellency Wang Xinm Li, has said that China’s increasing interest in Africa is not motivated by wanting to exploit the continent’s resources, but mostly to lend sincere support to the struggling African population.

He took a swipe at Western countries that have expressed concern at the great speed at which China is getting involved in Africa, and declared that nobody will stop them.

As this most interesting development plays out, Africa is watching the old colonial masters and current development partners, and the new entrants in the struggle for Africa’s improperly exploited and sometimes virgin natural resources, with a bit of amusement.

On the one hand, there is the age-old political game that has been played in Africa and might be playing out now. This is the pegging of development aid to whatever whim the givers may want, but mostly attaching it to the parameters of democracy as the Western world knows it. Any African leader wants aid but does not play ball, fails to meet the standards set for that aid support and therefore no aid.

In fact, the fast developing China, long isolated from the mainstream world politics, has also been threatened with a boycott of its 2008 Beijing Olympics if it does step up bettering its human rights record. At last, the west seems to say to China, we have them where we want them. China wants the 2008 Olympics to be a smashing success, so one might expect it to be bending over with the desire to impress. But wait

The economic success that has placed China at the adventuring end of world economics, has made it a direct competitor with the west for any resources that will make it grow even stronger. So it looks around, sees an Africa that is rich but still tottering, and decides to go the whole way. Right now China has just completed an investment deal in South Africa, buying 20 percent of Standard Bank, which translates into $5.5 billion. And this, without first demanding that South Africa should, say, increase its efforts to fight HIV/ Aids first before any deal is concluded.

Where does Africa stand in all this? Investments leading to economic emancipation, what else? Regardless where it is coming from. South Africa has taken the lead.

The Western Nations Concerns Over China’s Role in Africa is Starting to Show!!

West’s Concern Over China’s Role on Continent Starts to Show

The Nation (Nairobi)
OPINION
11 November 2007
Posted to the web 12 November 2007
Nairobi

Give it to Robert Mugabe: he has this remarkable ability to make Europe tie itself in knots. The upcoming Africa-European Union summit of Heads of Government hosted by Portugal is already steeped in controversy after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned he would not attend if the Zimbabwean leader were invited.

This has put everybody in a bind, no less the Europeans themselves.

But in an unusual reversal for Mr Brown, key European states from Germany to Portugal have intimated they don’t agree with the British government’s reasoning on this matter. Of course, the issue is being argued along the familiar and patronising line that one man should not jeopardise a vital discussion on trade and investment that is to be in Africa’s benefit.

If truth be told, it is Europe that needs the summit more than Africa does. The European Union bloc has traditionally been Africa’s most important and valuable trading partner. But in recent years, China booming economy has seen her rise to be the number two foreign economic player on our continent.

A year ago China organised the first Sino-Africa summit in Beijing, which was highly successful. Europe, as did many of Africa’s other would-be suitors, watched the event with keen interest.

Equal note has been taken of the fact that China has the largest number of embassies and consulates on the African continent, and that includes all the British and the French missions as well.

Actually the whole charade is about Africa’s vast, untapped resources. Everybody is fighting for a share of these under the polite guise of discussing investment at well-appointed summits.

Outside her interests in oil imports from Nigeria, Angola and other oil-producing African countries, the United States has been a comparatively lesser economic player in the continent despite her global omnipotence.

But America is certainly not keeping aloof from this intensifying competition for Africa’s enormous resources. And as is the case with Europe, it is China’s commercial inroads on the continent that have put the superpower on full alert.

Earlier this year Washington announced the creation of a new American military command it is calling Africom (for Africa Command).

It has been shopping around on the continent for a permanent headquarters for this command, so far unsuccessfully. For understandable reasons, hardly any African country would be comfortable offering this Africom a base, though Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf looks like she could succumb to George W. Bush’s recent charm offensive that saw her receive America’s highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honour.

The rationale advanced for Africom is, ostensibly, to network with African countries in matters of counter-terrorism, which means stalking terrorists from the Indian Ocean seaboard and the Horn of Africa up to the Sahel.

But those familiar with geopolitical strategies have no illusion that the time will come when, assuming China manages to crowd out the others from Africa’s resource pie, Africom will abruptly cease to be the benign force it is being purported to be.

Mr Brown’s stubborn insistence on the old British vendetta against Mr Mugabe has irritated other European countries who think he is failing to see the bigger picture. And it is not as if the Brits (or for that matter the French) are any longer the last word on matters African.

Ghanaian President John Kuffuor, who rarely reacts emotionally, has complained of countries introducing matters that are “extraneous” to the Lisbon summit. Mr Kuffuor’s remarks have been widely digested because he is not just any African. He is the serving Africa Union chairman, and hence our global voice. Mr Mugabe’s neighbour, Zambia’s Levy Mwanawasa, who currently chairs the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has gone a step further and made it clear that he (and certainly others) will not be in Lisbon if the Zimbabwean leader is not invited.

Mr Brown is first and foremost playing to a gallery. The British have turned Mr Mugabe into such an ogre that they themselves have become hostage to their own propaganda.

The Prime Minister is already lagging behind in the polls to the opposition Conservative Party, and much as he can understand that his fellow Europeans are talking sense, he has already put himself in a political bind. That is Western “democracy” for you.

There was this interesting encounter last week between Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and the CEO of the Steadman Group, Mr George Waititu. Reportedly, the presidential aspirant was demanding to know Steadman’s polling methodology.

This is the same fellow who said he didn’t care about Steadman and that they could give him zero for all it mattered.

I don’t know what transpired, but (tongue in cheek!) I happily note that Mr Musyoka has gained three more points in the latest Steadman poll.

December 2, 2007

“Neoliberal Washington” Labeled one of the Causes of Problems of Developing Countries

Consensus Against Neoliberal Washington Consensus
Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

NEWS
28 November 2007
Posted to the web 29 November 2007

By Julio Godoy
Dar es Salaam

One thing is clear from debates at the third Helsinki Process conference, underway here: there is agreement among economic development experts, civil society representatives and government officials attending the meeting that the neoliberal Washington consensus is not a solution to the problems of developing countries, but rather of these problems.

In contrast to the neoliberal emphasis on privatisation, participants of the conference argued that the state has a central role to play in launching and supporting economic and social development.

 

“Neoliberalism is not the solution to the economic and social problems confronted by developing countries,” said Josep Xercavins, professor of development economics at the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain, and co-ordinator of the World Forum of Civil Society Networks: an umbrella organisation of civil society groups studying economic and social development.

“We are seeing in Latin America the devastating consequences of 25 years of application of neoliberalism,” Xercavins added. “We need a new paradigm, with a new role for the state.”

The Washington Consensus is the term commonly used since the late 1980s to describe the set of neoliberal economic and social policies imposed on developing countries by Washington-based international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, through structural adjustment programmes.

The Dar es Salaam meeting is reviewing progress made over the past two years with the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy. This joint initiative by the governments of Finland and Tanzania got underway in 2003 to give representatives of the North and South “a new kind of equal forum…to come together to discuss common issues of concern.”

Titled ‘Inclusive Governance — Bridging Global Divides’, the Nov. 27-29 event is dealing with numerous issues related to globalisation and democracy, from the role of non-state actors in promoting international peace and security, to the relationship between national and global economic policies in the fight against poverty and for development.

“We should promote a new development agenda, following three principles which differ radically from those of the IFIs,” Kjeld Jakobsen, director of Brazil’s Social Observatory Institute, said Wednesday at a plenary session of the conference.

“First: we need to recognise that it is wrong to adopt the same (social and economic) measures in countries going through different phases of development. One size does not fit all.”

Second, he added, “Economic and social concerns must be given the same importance in the formulation of these measures. And third, this agenda should be conceived through a democratic process Civil society’s participation in the debate and implementation is crucial in a complex and interdependent world like ours today.”

A similar point was made by Michelle Pressend, senior researcher at the South Africa-based Institute for Global Dialogue. “In countries with high levels of inequality, the state has no choice other than to embark on an active economic development agenda,” she said.

“The state has to concede to these underdeveloped constituencies or face social instability,” Pressend added. “Crucially, the developmental state must develop the capacity and power to implement its economic and social policies.”

The developmental state’s first goal must be the equal redistribution of the country’s wealth among the people, she noted further.

Other participants of the conference agreed.

Mat Noor Nawi, director of the distribution sector at the Malaysian government’s Economic Planning Unit, explained that his country was almost able to eradicate poverty between 1971 and 2004, thanks to “a sustained commitment by the government, manifested in providing pro-poor services and infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and the like — and in affirmative action to avoid racial strife.”

Nawi said that during the well over 30 years that had passed since the first application of the so-called New Economic Policy in 1971, life expectancy in Malaysia rose from 61.6 to 71.8 years in 2004, and literacy rates from 58 to 95 percent of the total population. “Malaysia was able to reach high economic growth rates during this period, and at the same time reduce poverty and provide for social equality,” Nawi added.

To reduce poverty, the Malaysian government implemented programmes that included the provision of improved services in agricultural areas, the absorption of poor households into modern agriculture and other sectors through accelerated creation of employment opportunities — and the provision of social services and amenities such as education, health, housing, water and electricity.

“With these programmes and a well co-ordinated delivery mechanism, the poor were able to increase their productivity and income through a fuller utilisation of their productive assets and skills, as well as enjoy quality of life,” Nawi said.

Another consensus was also reached in Dar es Salaam: that the “Global South” — developing countries, assumed to share common problems and goals — does not exist.

“There is no such Global South,” Yash Tandon, executive director of the Geneva-based South Centre, told the conference. “The South is facing, fragmented, the development challenges posed by globalisation.”

While strong emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa might advance positions at international forums shared by other nations of the South, they are also pursuing their own agendas — sometimes even acting as new imperial powers towards their neighbours, he said.

Yet another subject discussed at the Dar es Salaam conference was the financing of development policies.

Xercavins urged the Helsinki Process to support the taxing of speculative financial transactions with the aim of having the resources so collected used for international co-operation projects.

He said this tax should be discussed by the U.N. General Assembly. “We have to go back to the U.N., we have to reinforce the multilateral, democratic institutions in favour of this new development paradigm.”

December 1, 2007

New Africa Command Will Promote Security, Spur Development

New Africa Command Will Promote Security, Spur Development

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
NEWS
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

By David McKeeby
Washington, DC
Helping Africans confront security challenges in their region long has been a priority of the United States, say senior U.S. officials. But the military’s new Africa Command (AFRICOM) also will prove an essential tool in continuing an equally long-standing commitment to helping communities across the continent strengthen governance, improve health care and meet economic development goals.

In November 14 congressional testimony, however, Stephen Mull, acting assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said that in meetings with leaders from Africa and Europe, he continues to encounter many misperceptions about AFRICOM, established by the Defense Department in February as the newest of its six geographic divisions to monitor security threats. (See related article.)

Mull was joined by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under secretary for policy at the Defense Department, and the AFRICOM commander, Army General William “Kip” Ward, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, to dispel the prevailing myths about the new command, such as the notion that AFRICOM represents a “military takeover” of U.S. foreign policy toward Africa.

AFRICOM’s purpose, said Mull, is to build strong military-to-military partnerships in the region. By doing so, it will support and complement, not overshadow, aid programs offered through American embassies by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Henry said the United States spends $9 billion a year through the State Department and USAID to help Africans deliver medical care, promote trade and new business opportunities and build more effective governance structures. In contrast, he said, the United States spends only $250 million a year for security assistance programs — half of which goes directly to supporting the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Sudan.

Like other military commands monitoring Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Ward said, AFRICOM will coordinate its activities with embassies in the region. But in doing so, the new command also will use an innovative new organizational structure that brings together military and civilian experts from across the U.S. government to formulate and exchange new policy ideas with their African partners.

“When coordinated and nested in this manner, AFRICOM’s contributions can help African countries effectively address threats such as political instability, terrorism, human rights abuses, cross-border trafficking and international crime,” Mull said.

Another myth, the officials said, is that AFRICOM represents a move by the United States to place a large troop presence in Africa.

While the United States is in discussions with several African nations on a possible headquarters for the command, no new bases will be established, said Henry. Unlike other U.S. military commands, he added, AFRICOM will have a relatively small staff that is able to “reach back” to the United States for resources if needed.

This structure, Ward said, reflects AFRICOM’s mission to work with regional organizations such as the African Union and its regional economic communities, the nations of Africa and their citizens to provide the tools and training needed to solve regional security challenges before they grow into international crises.

A third myth is that AFRICOM is geared exclusively to fighting terrorism and countering a rising Chinese presence at the expense of other challenges facing the region.

“The United States, China and other countries share a common interest in a stable, secure and rising Africa,” Henry said. “And though we may differ on the means, we look forward to cooperating with China as a responsible international stakeholder to achieve that end.”

While helping governments combat terrorists will be one mission, Ward highlighted several other ongoing activities in the region that illustrate AFRICOM’s future, including joint medical training programs that provide aid to poor communities, training African troops to serve as peacekeepers, and the recently established Africa Partnership Station — a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Guinea that serves as a “floating school” for military and law enforcement personnel from across the region. (See related article.)

“It begins with understanding our African partners’ definitions of their own environment and interests and understanding the complexities of the diverse countries and cultures across the continent,” said Ward. “Appreciation of their perspective will allow us to jointly identify ways and means that address both African and American interests.”

Prepared remarks from Mull, Henry and Ward are available on the House Armed Services Committee Web site.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

U.S. Business Leader Calls for Private-Public Sector Dialogue

U.S. Business Leader Calls for Private-Public Sector Dialogue

Corporate Council on Africa (Washington, DC)
DOCUMENT
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

By Maurice Tempelsman
Cape Town
Dialogue between the public and private sectors in Africa is not only more possible but more necessary than ever before, Maurice Tempelsman, chairman of the board of directors of the Corporate Council on Africa, told the opening of the CCA’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. Tempelsman is also chairman of Lazare Kaplan International Inc., a diamond cutting and polishing company.

It is my great privilege formally to welcome you all to this historic gathering—-the first of the Corporate Council on Africa’s regular biennial summits to be held on African soil.

And although we are at the southernmost tip of the continent, the embrace of our hosts; the beauty of both the land and its people; the vibrancy of its spirit; all these confirm that we are , indeed , on African soil. Thank you, Cape Town, for hosting us here, where South Africa began its unique and extraordinary journey in democracy with Nelson’s Mandela’s first steps to freedom—-a journey that, while not easy, has defied the cynics and the skeptics and thus symbolizes, to my mind, the broader journey on which the continent as a whole has set course.

Of that journey, as many others, women are the unsung heroes ; and in extending our thanks I would like to acknowledge and honor one such woman, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who heads the host country’s delegation. Those of us lucky to know her can testify to her public forcefulness when circumstances demand it; but we appreciate her most as somebody who, without pomp and often without publicity, simply gets things done. She helped get this summit done, and for that among many other things, Madame Deputy President, we are most grateful. I must also single out South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, the Honorable Mandisi Mpahlwa, for his extraordinary support.

My responsibility this evening is to do no more than set the stage; and in that context I think I owe it to this audience to cast my gaze briefly back towards history – the history out of which the Corporate Council emerged and ultimately became what it is today, the pre-eminent body that speaks for those who generate nine-tenths of U.S. investment in Africa.

As all in this audience will know, Africa’s independence was born during the Cold War, and in many ways became hostage to that broader geopolitical saga. There were many sides to this saga, of course, but among them were opposed systems of economic governance – one which encouraged private capital accumulation and investment, the other which reserved those vital functions to the state. In the abstract this debate was a serious and indeed a legitimate one, made weightier by those other, vital, sometimes contradictory human impulses that too often escape the economist’s models – the impulse to justice, to equality, to freedom, to social order. But the lives of people, and of nations, are not lived in the abstract, and we know the clear verdict of history on this particular economic debate –with all the qualifications and caution – with all the humility – one must bring to any historical verdict.

I mention the need for humility because with the end of the Cold War came an era of what I would call market triumphalism – a belief that free markets and free trade would not only prevail, but provide answers to many if not all of the messy questions that had bedeviled political life in previous times. And let me make my view perfectly clear : the achievements of markets, and their potential to harness human energies and human imperfections alike, are extraordinary; they are enduring; and they remain fundamental , not only to the logic of modern economic growth, and indeed to the logic of modern life as a whole – they are fundamental also to our efforts to alleviate poverty, expand opportunity, and extend the benefits of modern life to all the world’s citizens. The recognition of these fundamentals – the recognition that in today’s world private initiative and private capital surpass the importance of public initiative and public capital in recycling savings, investment and resources around the globe – this recognition helped give rise to the Corporate Council on Africa some fourteen years ago, and remains a motive force as it grows from strength to strength.

But we at the Corporate Council would also be the first to acknowledge that free markets cannot provide an answer to everything, or even to most things – to acknowledge that the laws of politics, in all their complexity and sometimes confusion – have not been, and cannot be, repealed by the abstract laws of economic logic. We could not fail to acknowledge this, focussed as we are on a continent that contains within it the fullest measure of human complexity, human possibility, and human reality. Africa has from its origins been a mentor to humanity; and I think it today continues to educate us, among many other things, on the balance between theory and practicality.

So I see, and I welcome, an emerging maturity of vision, where government’s proper and essential role in ordering social and political affairs is aligned with the private sector’s dynamic role in creating wealth and leveraging entrepreneurial energy. Economics is the realm where these spheres most obviously overlap, but it is hardly the only one, nor is it is as easy as it once was to distinguish where economics ends and other disciplines begin – if “disciplines” is itself even the right word anymore. In this fluid context, fruitful dialogue between the public and private sectors is not only more possible than ever before, it is all the more necessary. And thus I am a true believer in the value of institutions like the Corporate Council which exist to sponsor such dialogue, and of gatherings such as this one to give expression to it.

This summit in particular comes at a time not only of maturing vision, but also of maturing relations between Africa and the rest of the world, America included. A fresh generation of leadership on this continent, embodied in so many of the men and women around the room, is ensuring that Africa’s fate is no longer hostage to strategic calculation in faraway foreign capitals, but hostage instead to the wisdom – and sometimes, it must be said, lack of wisdom, here as much as on any other continent – of decisions in the houses of state, houses of justice, and, yes, the houses of commerce too, here at home. (From personal history I know all too well that among the things that come with real independence is the inability to blame others for your own mistakes.) Nor, to the extent foreign political capitals matter – and of course they do, just as foreign financial capital does – are they all the same as they once were. The rise of new powers, from China to India to Brazil to those in Africa as well, creates obvious challenges to the United States and opportunities for Africa – but also, I would argue, subtler challenges to Africa and opportunities for my own country. We are all in uncharted waters, and as a long-time sailor, I am familiar with the fine balance between anticipation and apprehension that this brings.

Taking this summit from its normal confines within American borders – taking it to this continent, at this time – is therefore not only the right thing to do, it is the wise thing to do. Thanks to technology, Africans and Americans can now deal with one another largely unconfined by the old divisions of time and distance. Thanks to current history, including the unfolding history of Africa’s emergence, we can also now deal with one another free of the old distortions of ideology or geopolitical conformity. As a businessman I know there is much that we can gain from one another. As a human being I know there is much that we can learn from one another.

It does not fall to me, nor would I presume in any event for an audience of this caliber , to provide some laundry list for mutual success in our dealings, or even of issues to be mutually addressed in our dialogue. One look at the program of themes and workshops on offer at this summit demonstrates that the organizers and sponsors have done a salutary job in putting us on track. I offer you only our collective welcome as an organization, my personal thanks for your participation, and my confidence that we will do good work and enjoy ourselves in equal measure over the next 48 hours.

Economic Progress in Africa was Focus of Secretary Paulson’s Trip

Economic Progress in Africa Focus of Secretary Paulson’s Trip

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
NEWS
13 November 2007
Posted to the web 14 November 2007

By Charles W. Corey
Washington, DC
Economic progress in Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana — including infrastructure development and job creation — will be the focus of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.’s trip to the emerging market countries November 13-19.

While in Africa, the Treasury secretary also will deliver a major address to the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, and attend a G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, according to Ahmed Saeed, deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for Africa and the Middle East.

Briefing reporters on Paulson’s trip November 9 at the U.S. Foreign Press Center in Washington, Saeed identified Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana as places where “sound governance and good economic polices have, over the last half decade and longer, had profound positive economic consequences.”

All three countries are enjoying “robust track records” of economic growth dating back at least five years, he explained. After implementing positive economic reforms, they exemplify the “good financial and economic news stories that are now emerging from Africa,” he said.

There are parts of Africa, Saeed said, “where there has been real poverty alleviation — particularly in those countries [Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana] that have done the right thing when it comes to economic policy.”

Along with the good news on Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana, he cautioned that there are still “numerous challenges” in today’s Africa that “we all know” and of which we must remain aware.

Saeed said the continent is seeing its “highest growth rates and the lowest inflation levels in 30 years.” The growth in economic policy management “seems to be quite widespread,” he said, with 23 of 48 countries seeing record high growth levels that seem to be trickling down.

“The last four years we have seen average per capita income growth of 3.8 percent, and … the [International Monetary Fund] is projecting 4 percent per capita income growth for this year,” he added.

While in Africa, Paulson is expected to talk about issues that are directly related to economic and financial performance. “He is going to talk about the critical role played by infrastructure … the importance of having a sound and robust financial structure” and of spreading the benefits of growth and sustainable development, Saeed said.

While in Tanzania, Saeed said, Paulson is expected to travel to a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) farm outside Arusha that is a sustainable community focused on land conservation. He also will hold talks with the Tanzanian finance minister that will include discussion of a $698 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact that Tanzania is expected to sign with the United States early next year, Saeed said.

Before leaving Tanzania, Paulson also is expected to meet with East African Community (EAC) finance ministers from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya to talk about regional capital market integration and how that could foster further economic development across the region. Paulson also will visit the A to Z Textiles mosquito net factory, which is generating jobs and participating in President Bush’s anti-malaria initiative for Africa.

In South Africa, Paulson will be the keynote speaker at the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Cape Town. While in that country, he also will meet with local bankers, participate in a G20 meeting and visit the Khayelitsha Cookie Company, which is creating important job opportunities, especially for women.

In Ghana, Paulson will visit the Ghana Stock Exchange and participate in a round table discussion with bankers from Ghana and elsewhere in the region. He also will meet with President John Kufuor to review Ghana’s economic progress and then travel to Akosombo Dam, where he will talk about the critical role infrastructure plays in the African development process. “Akosombo Dam is the source of more than 50 percent of Ghana’s energy,” Saeed reminded the reporters, and, as such, is an important source of economic development.

The overarching theme of Paulson’s trip, Saeed concluded, is to “shine a light on those changes that are taking place in Africa, have been taking place for some time in terms of implementing fundamentally sound economic policies, and those changes which are now bearing fruit … and talking about how we can partner with those who have a real commitment to reform.”

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

November 18, 2007

Liberia Wants Africom Sited on African Continent

Liberia Wants Africom Sited on Continent
This Day (Lagos)

NEWS
6 November 2007
Posted to the web 6 November 2007

By Juliana Taiwo
Monrovia
Government of Liberia has given its support to the location of the United States military base tagged AFRICOM, presently in Stuttgart, Germany, on the African soil.

The country is also bidding to host the site if possible, in in spite of reservations expressed by some African government including Nigeria, on AFRICOM’s location on African soil.

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Vice President of Liberia, Honourable Joseph Boakai, disclosed this yesterday at the 20th Meeting of ECOWAS Committee of Chief of Defense Staff in Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Monrovia.

He said Liberia saw the development as a good thing and will appeal to African brothers to support it, as it bid to host the site.

He claimed not to be aware of the displeasure expressed by other African countries, who saw it as exposing the continent to the American government.

Defence sources in Nigeria had in September, disclosed that the Nigerian government was already making serious diplomatic inquiries into the US government’s establishment of a military base for Africa in Stuttgart.

AFRICOM was expected to mark a significant re-ordering of the US military, and an increased interest that can be explained in three words – oil, terrorism and instability.

The US gets about 10 per cent of its oil from Africa and it was gathered that thePentagon was being careful to stress the aim of the new command.

It was also revealed that over one-third of approximately 500 staff of Africom will be diplomats and aid specialists, rather than uniformed military men, a move the Federal Government is not comfortable with..Defence sources said contrary to US claims, the move was to halt the huge economic incursion of China, considered the greatest threat to the US economic interests in the African continent.

Also the German government had last week stated the Command in Stuttgartwas temporal. The Embassy Spokesperson, Christina Jöckle, had said proximity to the European Command, which is located in Stuttgart, was responsible for citing AFRICOM in Stuttgart.

“Before AFRICOM, European Command (EUCOM), which is based in Stuttgart, has covered most African states.

At the moment, AFRICOM is also stationed in Stuttgart, but only for a transitional period,” Jöckle had said.

Jöckle, in response to an email, did not disclose the role of the German government in the establishment of the Command, but said “If you are looking for more detailed information about AFRICOM, please get in touch with the US Embassy.”

THISDAY gathered that the Chinese government was already mounting pressure on Nigeria and leadership of the African Union to resist the establishment of the base, seen by some countries in Europe and Asia as a threat to their huge investments in Africa.

“Oil is the bottom line of all these U.S. moves. It is not that US likes Africa. U.S. is moving in to protect its huge investments in Africa and its growing interests in the oil rich Gulf of Guinea. It is also afraid of the growing presence of China inAfrica, especially Nigeria,” the source had said. Nigeria is still pushing ahead with its “no” stance on the establishment of the command on Africa soil, claiming that the country was capable of protecting the Gulf of Guinea. Presidency sources had disclosed further that the issue would form one of the critical issuesNigeria will be taking to the next regional and continental meetings. A statement pasted on Africom websitewww.africom.mil said “the creation of US Africa Command will enable Department of Defence (DOD) to better focus its resources to support and enhance existing U.S. initiatives that help African nations, the African Union and the regional economic communities.

Meanwhile, Vice President Boakai have said the prolong conflict that engulfedLiberia in 1990s resulted in gross human rights abuses at an unprecedented scale. “Our experience from that conflict, therefore, has resulted in a holistic approach to our concept of security. Security is seen both in terms of the traditional concept of national security, which focuses on the defence of a state from external attack, as well as human security, which focuses on the protection of individuals and communities from any form of political or ethnic-related violence. National security and human security are integral to lasting peace in the sub-region”.

He said Liberia was developing a new professional armed forces that is apolitical and subordinated to the constitution of Liberia; ethnically and religiously integrated; capable of defencing the nation’s borders and internal regions from foreign and domestic threats; and capable to undertake other missions as permitted by law.

He said already the United States has train a 2000-man army in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in Accra, Ghana. He thanked the governments of Nigeria and China for the valuable role they continue to play in providing training opportunities for Liberia.

“A new culture must be formed within the military, one that is firmly rooted in the rule of law and respect of democratic institutions and processes. Old practices and structures – which have in the past been obstacles to democracy and human rights protection, will have to be changed”, he said.

Also in his remark, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Nigeria’s Maj. Gen Suraj Abdurrahman, said aside the 2000 men the US have offered to train, the AFL has enlisted and trained 645 personnel for the new AFL. A further batch of 500 recruits will commence training next week. in the same vain, the peoples Republic of China has offered to trained 30 slots to the AF: and is equally going to renovate the military barracks in Gbanga, while Nigeria has so far offered a total of 220 training slots with a promise to do more.

He said the only way to overcome the nation’s limit was to build on capacity and at the same time develop in the people the sense of improvisation, patriotism, self defence and hard work. He expressed optimism that at the end of the two day meeting, far reaching decisions would be made.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Andrew Azazi said Nigeria play’s prominent role in restoring peace to Liberia and in the sub-region. The meeting is to deliberate on security issues in the sub-region, afford the CDSs the opportunity to observe firsthand infrastructure developments and security situation in Liberia, as well as the challenges faced and the substaintial work and achievements to date, of the United Mission in Liberia.

October 17, 2007

U.S. Claims Africa a “Foreign Policy Priority”

State’s Frazer Says Continent is a U.S. “Foreign Policy Priority”

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
NEWS
3 October 2007
Posted to the web 3 October 2007
Washington, DC
Africa stands as a “foreign policy priority” of the Bush administration, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi E. Frazer told the United States Congress October 2.

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Frazer said the United States is working to promote conflict resolution; humanitarian assistance; strengthening of transparent, democratic African governments; greater economic growth and a strengthening of counterterrorism efforts.

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“All of these elements are part of the picture when we consider the Horn of Africa subregion and Ethiopia in particular,” she told the lawmakers in her prepared testimony. Frazer’s testimony updated the lawmakers on the latest conditions in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa subregion.

Frazer said the United States government has provided more than $200 million to support humanitarian programs throughout Ethiopia in fiscal year 2007.

Turning to Eritrea, Frazer told the lawmakers the United States continues to have “grave concerns” about human rights issues in that country, including the level of democracy, rule of law, freedom of the press and religious freedoms.

“Fourteen years after independence, national elections have yet to be held, and the constitution has never been implemented,” she said. “Several thousand prisoners of conscience are being detained without charge indefinitely and without the ability to communicate with friends and relatives. The government has severely restricted civil liberties, and arbitrary arrest, detention (including two Eritrean employees of the U.S. Embassy detained since 2001), and torture are serious problems. Security forces detain and arrest parents and spouses of individuals who have evaded national service or fled the country, despite the lack of a legal basis for such action.”

On Somalia, Frazer cautioned that the current situation there “poses a threat to regional stability.” She added, however, that the United States has provided more than $89 million in fiscal year 2007 to respond to that nation’s emergency humanitarian needs.


Copyright © 2007 United States Department of State.

October 1, 2007

Craig Eisele Creates Trans-African Development Strategies, Inc.

Craig Eisele Creates:

Trans-African Development Strategies, Inc.
 

            Trans-African Development Strategies, Inc or “TADS” is a New “Private” NGO focused on Infrastructure Development in Africa.

            The purpose of TADS is as follows:

1.    To provide Infrastructure development throughout Africa, whereas the Countries of Africa incur NO DEBT.

2.    To rehabilitate the 108,000 km of roads in Sub-Saharan Africa as identified in a study for the World Bank in 2006 (co-authored by David Wheeler) to facilitate development of trade throughout the Continent of Africa.

3.    To establish a modern limited access 4-lane “Highway” extending from the Mediterranean Cost of Africa and ending in South Africa (hopefully Cape Town, and 1 to 2 kilometers wide the full length of approximately 10,000 km.

4.    To encourage investment in the major portions of Infrastructure in the areas of Communications, Transportation and Power along the path of the “highway listed above in Item #3 and itemized below.

5.    To facilitate the development of a Trans-African Railroad

6.    To facilitate the development of a series of Pipelines to include Oil and Gas (refined and crude products) and Transportation of Water resources to areas in need.

7.    To bring a Fiber Optic Cable through the CENTER of Africa allowing Communication, Video and Internet into areas beyond the coastlines of Africa.

8.    To erect an Electric Transmission line from North to South through the Center of Africa.

9.    To develop electric Generation facilities including Hydro, Solar, Wind, Nuclear and Natural Gas along this same route.

10.  10 To assist in the development of Manufacturing Facilities and secondary and tertiary processing facilities for Natural resources to maximize value added services within Africa and to substantially add and foster job creation.

11.  To Assist in the building of Schools and Hospitals along this same pathway.

12.  Assist in the development of large scale commercial farming and ranching operations.

13.  To repeat Items 3 through 12 on at least one possibly 2 East to West Trans Continental Paths in Africa intersecting with the Primary Route of North to South and tying the Continent of Africa together with World Class Facilities.

We are certain that this will allow Africa to not only be self sufficient, but also Increases Wages to alleviate Poverty, reduce human suffering increase health care availability, and foster educational benefits throughout Africa and allow other NGO’s to better server those people who are in need but are not getting the aid they now desperately need because of the lack of infrastructure.

We also believe that the increase in GNP and GDP will spawn an increase in Tax Revenues and the ability for the countries to be able to access international financing for other projects that each individual country deems appropriate for its population.

TADS expects to raise 100 Billion Dollars of “AID” for the Roads and Highway Projects paid over the next 7 years. With Direct Spending on African Labor and materials to exceed 40 Billion Dollars up to 70 Billion dollars over the 7 year period. A Strategy to obtain these funds has been developed and refined over the last 2 years. While meet with skepticism by many the project is real and attainable despite the nay-sayers and those who would detract form the ultimate goal of a “New and Brighter Future for Africa.”

This estimate does not include anything except the road and highway projects.

TADS has a REAL Vision for Africa and invites anyone wishing to see this vision realized to participate in anyway they feel is appropriate.

While this is the first in a series of Announcements, more information will be provided over the near future.

 

Craig Eisele

Managing Director

Trans African Development Strategies, Inc.

 

September 29, 2007

US Companies losing in Africa

Yes, The headline is correct. Companies in the USA are losing out on major business opportunities in Africa… as are European Companies… and they are losing to China!!

But do not take my word for it, google “China Africa” and you will see for yourself. China is not only winning in Africa they are moving at an ever increasing pace and will dominate African trade and be the primary “investor” in Africa because of the “west’s” inability to effectively coordinate investment strategies.

What do I mean by coordinated investment strategy…. it is not a complicated idea…. it is the working with other companies in a form of horizontal integration to assure the success of the investment.

For example: If the US Company is interested in Mining. then transportation becomes an important issue… yet the availability of efficient roads or rail transport is limited at best.

The coordination becomes searching for partners who wish to build a Trans-African Railroad or who are interested in highway/road development such as Trans-African Development Company.

Telecommunications and Internet is similarly available by numerous companies wishing to justify their investment and looking for “customers” to make their network affordable.

Electricity or other power sources also lend themselves to partnering with such companies.

Simply: Since no “company” has the ability or resources of a COUNTRY… like China…. then Companies interested in investing in Africa MUST find a way to compete NOW…. by affiliating with other Companies, Groups or Organizations that can facilitate their Investment into Africa.

This Article is somewhat self serving… yet it should also help Companies interested in investing in Africa, a Strategy for making such investments.

Self-serving because Trans African Development is looking to rehabilitate the road infrastructure that could make their investment economic model look better and increase the feasibility of such investments. HOWEVER, Trans African Development is NOT looking for investors to rehabilitate the existing road infrastructure in Africa… Yes, we are looking to raise the 50 million Euro to jump start our efforts in Africa… BUT, the real money to rehabilitate MUST come from those Governments of the Industrialized world to rehabilitate the basic road infrastructure in Africa.

DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) has but 300 miles of PAVED roads… yet it’s land mass is that of ALL of Western Europe. It is not enough to get a concession for the development of Natural resources in DRC… it must be transported to global markets.

Trans African Development is looking for sponsors to implement a strategy of marketing and promotions and PR to raise the funds for this Road rehabilitation that will not only bring African gratitude to those countries (and therefore those countries Companies) but will help hundreds of millions of Africans as well as give these “traditional” Western Companies access to those resources and be able to effectively compete with China for those resources and markets.

Sadly I believe that the “traditional” Western Companies may be too late already as their existing strategists have lacked the ability to think beyond their industry and their standard business models. But I welcome feedback form those “Companies” who wish to find alternatives to their current models and who are willing to seek markets outside the black box of traditional thinking that will only cause them to lose out to China in the long run especially in Africa.

September 25, 2007

US State Department: Africa’s Fight Against Hunger Requires Enlightened Policies

Fight Against Hunger Requires Enlightened Policies
United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

NEWS
10 September 2007
Posted to the web 11 September 2007

By Phillip Kurata
Washington, DC
Policies that spur subsistence farmers to start growing crops for profit rather than survival and that expand market opportunities for private traders enhance agricultural productivity and reduce hunger in the developing world, according to U.S. government officials seeking to enhance food security.

“Underlying our agriculture strategy is the assumption that there has to be a market,” says George Gardner, senior agricultural economist at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “We’re trying to get producers linked to markets. We don’t work with command economies.”

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William Hammink, who directs the USAID’s Food for Peace program, says that getting a subsistence farmer to think in terms of profits requires a cultural shift.

“Small holders, who have been subsistence growers for thousands of years, must start thinking about growing things besides basic staples, such as maize, sorghum or millet,” he told USINFO.

Hammink said that the farmers need to diversify, think about market demands, fertilize their land and increase yield. He added that the experience in Uganda, Senegal and Mali — three African countries that have increased food production and diminished hunger — has shown that boosting competition for private traders has brought about the most change in that direction.

To invest in their land and make it more productive, farmers need to know that they have legal rights to it.

Gardner told USINFO that issuing farmers titles to land creates land markets, where none existed previously, and provides the tillers with collateral to get agricultural credits and loans to buy fertilizer, seeds and other inputs.

A major impediment to good agricultural policy in Africa is that governments tend to favor urban areas over rural areas.

“African governments learned long ago that hungry consumers in urban areas bring down governments long before rural scattered producers do,” Gardner said. “Urban consumers are more vocal. They can block the road to the airport.”

Although the vast majority of Africans live in rural areas, their governments do not spend enough on agricultural sectors, according to Gardner.

“We have been trying to get African governments to invest proportionately in the agricultural sector, which typically employs 60 to 80 percent of the labor force and produces 50 to 60 percent of the gross domestic product,” he said. “If a national budget allocates only 5 percent of resources to the agricultural sector, you’ll never catch up with investments needed for irrigation, roads, information services and so forth.”

John Thomas, the director of the Office of Agriculture in USAID, said policy commitments by African governments to develop their agricultural sectors are necessary if the continent is to create a “green revolution” similar to the one that took place in South Asia. Thomas said the tremendous increase in agricultural productivity in South Asia was a result of commitments made by Pakistan and India back in the 1970s to invest in roads, fertilizer and improved seed varieties.

“It takes first a country that is committed to invest in agriculture and supporting the enabling environment for agriculture,” he told USINFO.

Thomas praised the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), which the countries of sub-Saharan Africa wrote and adopted, as an initiative “being built from the bottom up by African countries” to develop their agricultural sectors. CAADP calls for each African government to devote 10 percent of its budgetary resources to agriculture in a manner tailored to each country’s needs.

Policies unrelated to agriculture also can have decisive effects on reducing food and alleviating hunger. Sometimes getting the national budget under control and refraining from pursuing inflationary policies are sufficient, but often governments must do more.

For example, Ron Croushorn, the director of the food assistance division at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said that Ghana, a leader in West Africa, has done a lot to improve its investment climate, both foreign and domestic. Kenya and Tanzania have had dramatic increases in stock markets, he added, and noted that all three governments have educated their citizens about the opportunities for investment. Croushorn told USINFO that infrastructure improvements and electrification allow farmers to increase production dramatically.

A key element of introducing beneficial policy reforms is finding a “policy champion,” an influential lawmaker who can convince the government of the need for reforms.

“It’s really important to find a champion, somebody who is aggressive and can understand the impact of bad policy and can help influence people within the government that changes are necessary and present some options,” Thomas said.

Gardner said such a champion in Kenya was instrumental in removing the restrictions against the internal transportation of maize, which had been in place since colonial days as a measure intended to prevent the spread of plant disease. Gardner said the champion was able to show that there was no scientific basis for the restriction and get it rescinded. As a result, maize production and trade increased.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

September 23, 2007

Summary of Africa-China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue

Summary of Africa-China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue
Council on Foreign Relations (New York)

DOCUMENT
13 September 2007
Posted to the web 13 September 2007

The following is a summary of the Africa-China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue, co-sponsored by the Brenthurst Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Leon Sullivan Foundation.

Introduction

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Over the course of the last thirteen months, delegates from Africa, China and the United States have met three times in an effort to identify strategies of cooperation among their respective nations with the goal of accelerating economic development in Africa.   The meetings were held in Tswalu, South Africa in August 2006, in Beijing, in March 2007 and in Washington in September 2007.

The Trilateral Dialogue is a unique initiative.   The purpose of this paper is to summarize the discussions which have taken place.

The Trilateral Dialogue process is in no way complete.There are issues that are still under discussion and there are other issues on which we have noted areas of divergence. Nevertheless, there has been a great deal of convergence, and that is what we want to share at this time in the hopes that we might stimulate other initiatives that will benefit Africa.

Areas of Agreement

  • There is no strategic conflict between the U.S. and China in Africa, and there is no zero-sum dynamic between the two countries.
  • Closely related to this is the African perspective that it is essential to avoid another scramble for Africa.
  • There are divergent interests between the U.S. and China in Africa and they can be reconciled to Africa’s benefit.   It was also noted that there is no reason that China and the U.S. will cooperate automatically.
  • Business competition between the U.S. and China will take place in Africa but that by definition is not necessarily a negative, especially when new technologies are shared with Africans, skills are imported into Africa and jobs are created.
  • There was agreement that the U.S. and China are important commercial partners for Africa and that both can be helpful in the mobilization for capital and debt relief.
  • When it comes to energy, there was agreement on the need for the security of supply and stability of price.   There was also a general consensus that Africa could benefit from all partners, especially the U.S. and China, agreeing on a framework to ensure that the revenue from these resources genuinely contributes to economic development and stronger institutions.
  • Africa will have to rely on exploiting its natural resources and using the revenues from these resources more productively for social and economic development.   China and the U.S. can best assist by strengthening institutions to ensure that these resources are accounted for and invested in human and national development.
  • There was also agreement that we have to be careful not to look at Africa exclusively through the lens of energy production and consumption. At the same time, it was noted that the global interest in Africa has never been higher, and that it is vital that this attention is seized for Africa’s long-term benefit.
  • Related to this point was the comment made by the Chinese delegation that not all have benefited equally from globalization. It is the responsibility of the world to support Africa but, at the same time, Africa has to adapt to increased globalization.
  • Given the increased international attention on Africa and the democratic and economic reforms that have taken place across the continent, it was agreed that African countries have a unique opportunity to “own” their decisions over development.
  • All delegations agreed that peace and security are prerequisites for stability and economic development.
  • There was also agreement that all countries affirmed their “responsibility to protect” against genocide and crimes against humanity, and that there are a number of UN and African Union (AU) conventions and principles which need to be observed.
  • All delegates welcomed that Africa has taken great strides forward in the area of democracy, as illustrated by the success of the AU, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the African Peer Review Mechanism.   The refusal by the AU to recognize unconstitutional seizures of power is another significant development underscoring the trend to democracy.

Areas of Discussion

  • There was considerable discussion over the degree to which China can be seen as a model of economic development.   China is a developing nation that has brought a very significant number of people out of absolute poverty.   China has also attracted a significant amount of foreign investment and in a generation has gone from the 30th largest nation in global trade to number three.
  • At the same time, one aspect of China’s path to development was predicated on the emergence of an extremely competitive light manufacturing sector.There is a difference of opinion over whether African nations will be able to ascend the industrial ladder over the next generation in the same way.
  • There was much conversation about whether there can be a genuine convergence of objectives among China, the U.S. and Africa on how best to promote development in Africa. For example, the Chinese delegation identified their objectives as promoting peace and development. The African delegation noted that their governments want development and poverty alleviation as their first priority. The U.S. delegation emphasized policies that focus on improved governance, accelerated growth and enhanced peace and security. At the same time, the American delegation noted that it is important to strengthen the role of African entrepreneurs and civil society organizations as a stimulus to development, and that corruption and crime impose the largest obstacles, or taxes, on development.
  • It was also noted that Africa is projected to be the only region in 2030 in which absolute poverty will still exist. With a growing threat posed by climate change and global warming and a decline in per capita food production, there was discussion of the appropriate agricultural and scientific technologies for Africa.
  • The African delegation submitted a paper on business principles for a stronger Africa, which has become one of the bases for our continuing discussion. (The paper has been distributed separately in full.)

Areas of Divergence

Some Chinese scholars pointed out that there is no consensus on a definition of good governance. Therefore, China does not pre-condition its assistance on the existence of democracy and places more emphasis on a balance among reform, stability and development.

  • The American delegation noted that the U.S. tends to condition assistance on the existence of democracy and provides direct assistance for democracy-building.
  • Similarly, as it concerns peace and security, the African delegation challenged the U.S. and China to do more to help resolve the situation in Darfur. Whether or not there can be agreement among the delegations on actions for recommendation remains to be seen. The crisis of governance and economy in Zimbabwe and Somalia would also fall in this category.
  • On the issue of transparency and how best to use revenues generated from commodities, there was a difference of emphasis as it concerned external codes such as the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, the Global Sullivan Principles, the Equator Principles and others. There is a long way to go to get governments and companies to adhere to these codes and there is not agreement among the delegations on how to achieve this.
  • Finally, on several occasions in Beijing, the Chinese delegates underscored their government’s commitment to the principles of non-interference and mutual reciprocity. How this plays out in the area of conflict resolution and the responsibility to protect remains to be seen.

Strategies on the Way Forward

There is agreement among the three delegations that the initial three meetings of the Trilateral Dialogue started a process that has great potential.   In terms of the longer-term objectives, there are several:

  • Influence the African Union and the governments of China and the United States to establish an official trilateral mechanism that will address key issues pertinent to the interests of nations in Africa as well as China and the U.S.
  • Provide a forum to generate ideas about American and Chinese cooperation in Africa that would be of benefit to policymakers, researchers and analysts throughout the world who are engaged in African investment, development and peace and security issues.
  • Bring together stakeholders in working groups in sectors such as agriculture, health and energy who have the resources and institutional capacity to train Africans, introduce new technologies and create expanded opportunities in these sectors.
  • Maintain and possibly expand the existing mechanism that there be a regular dialogue among the delegates of the Trilateral Dialogue and officials from government, international organizations, corporations and non-governmental organizations with the objective of leveraging resources, technologies and expertise on behalf of African development.
  • Recognizing that peace and security are essential to African development, continue to discuss how to increase AU and UN peacekeeping capabilities.

To achieve these objectives, the Trilateral Dialogue could well continue in its current form or in an agreed alternative form.   At the same time, it could establish issue-based working groups that would have specific agendas that would meet more frequently in an effort to achieve agreed upon goals.

PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRILATERAL DIALOGUE PROCESS

Chinese Delegation

Professor Yang Guang, Chair, Director-General, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

Professor Wang Rongjun, Deputy-Director of American Economic Studies, Institute of American Studies

Professor He Wenping, Director of African Studies, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

Dr. Zhang Yongpeng, Deputy Director of International Relations Studies, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

Ms. Zhang Qiaozhi, Program Officer, Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Professor Tao Wenzhao, Institute of American Studies

Professor Yu Yongding, Director, Institute for World Economic and Political Studies

Professor Li Zhibiao, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

Professor Yang Lihua, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies

Professor Ru Xin, former Vice President, CASS

Professor Zhang Hongming, Deputy Director-General, Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, CASS

Professor Cui Yongqian, former Ambassador to African countries

Professor Xu Weizhong, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations

Professor Wang Hongyi, China Institute of International Studies

African Delegation

Dr. William Lyakurwa, Chair, Executive Director, Africa Economic Research Consortium, Kenya

His Majesty King Letsie III, King of Lesotho

Professor Stephen Chan, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Ambassador Joe Mollo, CEO, Corporate Diplomats and Former High Commissioner of

Lesotho to the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada

Mr. Michael Spicer, CEO, Business Leadership, South Africa

Hon. Patrick Mazimhaka, Vice Chair, African Union Commission, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Hon. Sydney Mufamadi, Minister of Local and Provincial Government, South Africa

Hon. Lopo do Nascimento, Former Prime Minister of Angola

Hon. Neo Moroka, Minister of Commerce, Government of Botswana

Dr. Greg Mills, Director, Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa

R. Adm. Steve Stead, Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa

American Delegation

Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Co-Chair, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Ambassador Andrew Young, Co-Chair, Chairman of the Board, Leon H. Sullivan Foundation

Dr. Witney Schneidman, Senior Adviser, Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Hills & Co., former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Professor Chester Crocker, Georgetown University, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg-Bistrong, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Hon. David Goldwyn, CEO, Goldwyn International Strategies, former Assistant Secretary of Energy Mr. Stephen Hayes, President and CEO, Corporate Council on Africa

Ambassador Howard F. Jeter, President and CEO, Leon H. Sullivan Foundation

Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Kissinger Associates, Inc.

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Business Principles for a Strong Continent

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Trialogue Identifies Agreement and Divergence on Chinese and American Approaches
allAfrica.com

NEWS
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007

By Courtney Hess
Washington, D.C.
The “divergent” interests of the United States and China “can be reconciled to Africa’s benefit,” according to representatives from Africa, China and the United States who took part in a trilateral exchange of views over the past year.

However, stark differences in approach can also produce diplomatic and economic complications that need to be regularly addressed, according to participants in the trialogue process, which was launched in August 2006 to promote conversation on the differing American and Chinese approaches to investment and aid on the African continent.

Participants in the discussions included academics, policy analysts and current and former government officials. They met in South Africa in August 2006, in China in March and last week in Washington, DC for their third and final gathering.

China’s rapidly expanding economy has fueled a growing interest in Africa’s natural resources, which has pushed up prices of raw materials Africa produces and has led to massive increases in Chinese trade and investment throughout the African continent. China has also become one of Africa’s largest aid donors – all but two countries have been Chinese aid recipients. In November 2006, during a summit with African leaders, the Chinese government pledged to double its aid to Africa by 2009, matching a similar pledge made at the 2005 G8 Summit, where leaders of the largest developed countries promised to double aid to Africa by 2010.

Among the conclusions trialogue participants shared during sessions at the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was the hope that Africa can benefit economically from growing competition between the two majors powers. The African delegation introduced a set of principles [aimed at ensuring that growth produces benefits for Africa. “More and more democratic and peaceful, Africa today battles not against colonialism or neo-colonialism, but against exclusion from the global economy, diseases and poverty,” the African delegation’s document says. The principles address how business should act, how international assistance should be managed and how African governments should respond to globalization.

Participants in the trialogue made clear that they did not reach consensus on all the issues they discussed. “We sometimes had to agree to disagree,” Princeton Lyman, a former U.S. ambassador and policymaker and co-chair of the American delegation said, adding that the process nevertheless produced invaluable insights into policy thinking for all the parties involved. The summary document lists areas of agreement, areas of discussion and areas of divergence. During the presentation of the trialogue process at AEI, Patrick Mazimahaka, deputy chairman of the African Union Commission, criticized Beijing’s policy of aiding African governments without pre-conditions, citing China’s cooperation with Sudan. “In terms of democratization and good governance in Africa,” he said, “we have been asking China to review its policy of noninterference.”

China is also facing criticism over labor standards and environmental concerns along with product safety and quality control for corporations working in Africa. However, AEI conference participant Deborah Brautigam, a professor at American University, believes China may be instituting higher corporate standards, citing Beijing’s recent consultations with the International Finance Corporation. Brautigam called on African countries to insist upon these standards when negotiating with the Chinese.

Several Trilateral Dialogue participants said they favor the creation of an official forum for Chinese, African, and American dialogue on interests and challenges in Africa. Many see American and Chinese interest in Africa as a positive opportunity. According to Michael Spicer from Business Leadership South Africa, “There is a feeling of new beginning, a dawn of a new era – there’s optimism,”

DOCUMENTS:

Summary of the Africa-China-U.S. Trilateral Dialogue

Business Principles for a Strong Continent

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