I started Citizens Oversight Maryland 10 years ago because of this complete capture of the Democratic Party---all the groups pretending to be PROGRESSIVE---like PROGRESSIVE MARYLAND---were Clinton neo-liberal getting progressively richer groups. That is why I added Maryland Progressives to my social Democratic group to highlight social progressive policy against this raging Wall Street far-right economic progressively rich policy.
The FED under Greenspan created the subprime mortgage loan fraud and bubble while Bernanke created the subprime US Treasury/municipal bond fraud bubble. In both cases Wall Street banks used depositors' accounts to create massive leverage of derivative debt to sell overseas. CitiBank and Bank of America were allowed to expand to China and Brazil under Clinton breaking of Glass Steagall and deregulating banks and those branches partnered with Chinese and Brazilian investment bankers who pedaled these subprime mortgage loans and now all those subprime bond deals. This makes the Chinese and Brazilian partners rich defrauding their citizens and it allows those $600 trillion dollar leverage amounts we are told Wall Street had with subprime mortgage loans and now again with our bond debt. Remember, none of this is real money and it is all based on bank depositors' cash----it is only when these markets collapse and a bailout of banks is called for that Congress, Maryland Assembly, and Baltimore City pols partnered with Wall Street allow all this fraud to take actual revenue sources like our Social Security Trust, our pensions and 401Ks, our houses, cars, and allows interest rates to soar on credit that Wall Street gets actual money.
Wall Street needed debt so the FED created conditions for corporations to take free money----they did not qualify for it----it was not in the interest of building a stable US economy ---the FED's mission-----the FED simply wanted to maximize the amount of debt through municipal and corporate bonds enough to send the US into a deep economic hole. At the same time as I said yesterday-----they wanted to implode all US corporations not tied to multi-national partnerships to merge assets into these global corporate tribunal 1% businesses.
THIS IS FOR WHOM CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA WALL STREET GLOBAL POLS HAVE WORKED FOR THESE FEW DECADES AND THOSE POLS ARE WILLING TO DO WHATEVER AS THEY ARE 'SHOW ME THE MONEY' PEOPLE.
Thanks For The Corporate Bond Bubble, Fed
Mar. 5, 2015 8:15 AM ET
Once upon a time businesses borrowed long term money--if they borrowed at all--in order to fund plant, equipment and other long-lived productive assets. That kind of debt was self-liquidating in the sense that it usually generated a stream of income and cash flow that was sufficient to service and repay the debt, and to kick some earned surplus into the pot as well.
Today American businesses are borrowing like never before--but the only thing being liquidated is their own equity capital. That's because trillions of debt is being issued to fund financial engineering maneuvers such as stock buybacks, M&A and LBOs, not the acquisition of productive assets that can actually fuel future output and productivity.
So it amounts to a great financial shuffle conducted entirely within the canyons of Wall Street. Financial engineering deals invariably shrink the float of outstanding stock among the corporations visiting underwriters. Likewise, they invariably leave with the mid-section of their balance sheets bloated with fixed obligations, while the bottom tier of shareholder equity has been strip-mined and hollowed out.
At the same time, none of this vast flow of capital leaves a trace on the actual operations--such as production, marketing and payrolls-of the businesses involved. Instead, prodigious sums of debt capital are being sold to yield-hungry bond managers and homegamers via mutual funds and then recycled back into windfall gains for stock market gamblers who chase momo plays and the stock price rips that usually accompany M&A, LBO or stock buyback announcements.
Needless to say, central bank financial repression is responsible for this destructive transformation of capital market function. It has made the after-tax cost of debt tantamount to free for big cap corporations--while fueling equity market bubbles that makes stock repurchases and other short-term financial engineering maneuvers irresistible to stock option obsessed inhabitants of the C-suites.
In this context, today's WSJ saw fit to herald the $21 billion of quasi-junk bonds (BBB-) issued by Actavis PLC (ACT) to fund its $66 billion acquisition of Allergan (NYSE:AGN), a company which famously supplies Botox and similar life-enhancing products. Whether this mega-merger will result in any sustainable economic efficiency gains only time will tell, but the odds are not high. The overwhelming share of today's red hot M&A deals fail to earn back the huge takeover premiums invariably paid. And, not infrequently, they are subsequently reborn as equally trumpeted corporate restructurings, spin-offs and other "value unlocking" maneuvers a few years down the road. It's Wall Street's version of "you stab 'em and we slab -em".
While the FED and national media were reporting the US economy was humming and GDP was growing sometimes they said GDP was 2.5-3%-----all that growth was this subpriming of our US bond market. Congress in 2009 when Democrats had a super-majority with Obama and the HOUSE and SENATE----not really Democrats but Wall Street global corporate neo-liberal majority----voted to change how GDP was measured in the US and they added things like SALES OF US TREASURY AND MUNICIPAL BONDS as GDP growth. This has never been done and does not represent GDP growth---it was all progressive posing to make Americans and the world think the US economy was stabilizing. This allow US corporations that should have been working---hiring employees, creating and selling products for REAL GDP---to simply take that free FED money to expand overseas----these several years were all spent in US corporations merging and accumulating foreign corporations so now these corporations are no longer American----
Wall Street and media sold all this as good---supposedly shareholders in these corporations being imploded with corporate debt were getting dividend checks----kickbacks from corporate profits----which no doubt caused main street to invest more in these corporations being IMPLODED IN DEBT. See the pattern. Fool us once as they did the same under Bush---fool us twice shame on us but many Americans allowed this to happen a second time. I shouted to labor union leaders and members about this and many simply said GO AWAY---OUR PENSIONS ARE GROWING----unable to understand they were being taken again. These will be the people losing all their retirements after this crash settles.
Three Chart Alarm: The Fed Has Set-Up The Corporate Bond Market For A Big Fall
by David Stockman • August 4, 2014
The three charts below, which appeared in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, are still another reminder that the Fed’s heedless fueling of the third financial bubble this century has done enormous damage to the internals of financial markets. In this case, investors and savers being brutally punished by ZIRP were herded into bonds funds in a desperate scramble for yield. Accordingly, bond fund assets soared from $1.6 trillion at the time of the financial crisis to $4.1 trillion today.
Yet the market’s structural liquidity condition has gone in the opposite direction. Dealer inventories of corporate bonds have plummeted by nearly 75% from pre-crash levels, meaning that the ratio of dealer inventories to bond fund assets has virtually been vaporized. In 2008 that ratio stood at 15%, but presently it is only 1.5%. Likewise, daily trading volumes have been cut in half since the crisis.
The implication is no mystery. When the financial markets eventually succumb to a “risk-off” selling panic, the corporate bond market will gap down violently. As one astute analyst put it:
“Everyone is hoping to be first through the exit,” said Matt King, global head of credit strategy at Citigroup in London. “By definition, that’s not possible.”
Stated differently, the Fed’s explicit campaign to force grandpa out of CDs and into corporate bond funds has caused a vast mis-pricing of liquidity. In a healthy free market, bond fund yields would carry a significant discount for illiquidity, and issuers of riskier corporate credits would face far higher yield spreads vs. the 10-year treasury benchmark.
So once again, the serial bubble machine in the Eccles Building has generated a huge unnatural market deformation that is inherently unstable and increasingly fragile. When the break comes, years worth of “extra” yield will be wiped-out in a traumatic drop in bond prices caused by a panic at the exit ramp.
As the balance of the WSJ article makes clear, the risk of log-jam at the exit gates is especially acute in the $1.6 trillion junk bond market. Prior to last week’s initial sell-off, yield spreads had been squeezed to absurdly low levels—less than 300 basis points on the Merrill index. Based on the current rate of inflation and historic 4-5% long-term losses on junk bonds, the spread should be 600 basis points or more. Indeed, during the last junk bond sell-off in 2008-2009, the yield spread over the treasury benchmark blew-out to 2000 basis points before the Fed’s artificial flood of liquidity put a stop to the carnage.
But today the junk bond market is far larger; trading liquidity is far thinner; and the Fed has already used up its trick card—that is, zero interest rates and massive monetization of the public debt. Accordingly, the carnage at the junk bond exit ramp is likely to be far more extensive this time around. More importantly, the punters who harvested gargantuan profits by buying junk at peak yields in the spring of 2009 may find that the fire brigade in the Eccles Building is MIA when the next crash hits bottom.
By Katy Burne at The Wall Street Journal
A shakeout in the junk-bond market is drawing only cautious interest from bargain-hunters, underscoring investor fears that many once-hot securities could prove hard to sell in an increasingly difficult trading environment.
U.S. funds investing in debt rated below investment grade lost an average 1.33% last month, according to a Barclays PLC index, their second-worst monthly performance since November 2011. In June 2013, after the Federal Reserve began hinting that it would scale back its monetary easing, they lost 2.62%.
The latest junk-bond decline intensified last week as investors continued to make heavy withdrawals of money, in part because of worry that a recharged U.S. economy could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than expected, a move that would likely pressure bond prices.
Reflecting the cautious mind set, some portfolio managers are selling riskier bonds and replacing them with safer ones because of concern about market liquidity, or the capacity to quickly buy or sell securities at or near quoted prices. Many investors say liquidity is drying up as the Fed pares its monthly stimulus and large banks trim their bond inventories.
Investors pulled more than $5 billion in July from U.S. junk-bond mutual and exchange-traded funds, according to Lipper, a fund tracker, deepening the liquidity fears and adding to concern that the recent selloff could intensify…..
The downdraft in junk debt highlights concerns that purchasers in the $1.6 trillion U.S. market, lured by higher income than on government and highly rated corporate bonds, have paid too much for the securities. Prices have rallied, sending yields to levels too low to compensate buyers for the risk of the investments, many investors say.
The tremors are being closely scrutinized across Wall Street. Many investors this year have expressed concerns that a pullback in junk-bond prices could signal that market participants are rethinking their willingness to take risk, foreshadowing further declines in stocks and other risky assets.
The conditions are heaping extra pressure on sellers at a time when geopolitical unrest from Israel to Ukraine has caused a pullback from stocks and all but the safest debt securities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped seven of the past eight trading days and is down 0.5% this year.
Jim Swanson, chief investment strategist at MFS Investment Management, which oversees about $438 billion, said he has been demanding extra yield on some bonds to reflect the risk that selling could take longer, and avoiding some less-liquid bonds. “There’s a question of what happens when everyone tries to sell [bonds] at once, and I want compensation for that,” he said.
Brian Connolly, co-founder of hedge fund Millstreet Capital Management in Boston, which oversees more than $200 million in assets, said he recently tried to sell $3 million of energy company bonds but couldn’t find buyers for three days. Typically such a sale takes a day at the most, he said.
“It has become increasingly harder to trade,” he said.
All of this is important to the policy issues of US International Economic Zones and Trans Pacific Trade Pact as multi-national corporations are not considered as American they are now considered as tied to whatever nation has their registered headquarters and that can be in any developing nation. They do that to evade taxes but more importantly, they will be brought back to US International Economic Zones to claim under TPP they can ignore US Constitutional rights, Federal, state, and local laws, and will say they are protected from taxes and regulations under the global free-trade status of US International Economic Zones like Baltimore.
Almost all of the Federal stimulus Obama and Clinton neo-liberals in Congress---AND REPUBLICANS----they said was to stimulate the US economy was tied to these global corporate mergers and acquisitions and expanding corporations overseas. This is why nothing came to Baltimore or any other US city for economic stimulus---but Wall Street Baltimore Development threw a few million at its 'justice' non-profits to keep low-income citizens BUSY.
All the policies sent down from Maryland Assembly by Baltimore pols led by PUGH was geared towards all this KEEPING LOW-INCOME BUSY----and NO economic growth in our surrounding communities.
How to Merge Corporate Cultures
Mergers and acquisitions can create strange bedfellows, but the drawbacks of companies' cultures not meshing together can have an impact on the bottom line.
By Tim Donnelly
Follow these tips from merger experts for a smooth transition.
Through all the mergers he's been a part of, Mike Sprouse has yet to see one that doesn't entail at least a few hiccups.
"I don't think I've ever heard of any colleague of mine who's gone through a combination who said it's easier than they thought," says Sprouse, chief marketing officer for Epic Media Group, a digital marketing company that last year merged with a smaller ad network. "Most people say it's more difficult than they thought."
Many of the problems come from the sometimes-awkward mash-up of two distinct corporate cultures—a relationship that experts say is like the first day of high school or a new marriage, because you have no choice but to navigate the unfamiliar situation.
Mergers and acquisitions can create strange bedfellows, but the drawbacks of companies' cultures not meshing together can have an impact on the bottom line.
"The biggest thing it does is it hinders morale," Sprouse says. "When that happens, there's a tendency to hinder relationships with clients, vendors and that sort of thing."
Follow these tips from merger experts to figure out how to prevent your new marriage from ending in a quick divorce:
Merging Your Corporate Cultures: Do Your Due Diligence
Nancy Rothbard, a management professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvannia, says recent studies show the failure rate of mergers is close to 75 percent, and the majority don't produce the expected financial returns for years after the merger has taken place.
"In some of the research, there's been a lot of discussion on how the culture piece has been really central to why they fail," she says.
That happens because most companies don't consider the differences in corporate cultures when analyzing a potential merger in the first place.
"Often the things that are harder to assess are the qualitative aspects," she says. "It often can create a lot of challenge for getting the best out of employees."
You can get a jump on this problem by thinking ahead: While the legal team is scrutinizing the proposed merger, have someone elsetake a look at the cultural differences between the two companies. This way, you're not just plopping new employees into an unfamiliar environment and expecting them to sink or swim.
Culture clash is too often a scapegoat when mergers go wrong, says Joe Aberger, the president of Pritchett, a strategy firm that specializes in mergers and corporate culture and is headquartered in Dallas. Factoring it into the preparations for the merger helps avoid scapegoating.
"Executives would rather blame culture than shouldering the blame for destroying millions of dollars of shareholder value," he says. "You can't get lost in analyzing culture. You need to keep your eye on the bottom line."
Merging Your Corporate Cultures: Don't Try to Change Everything
One mistake companies often make is assuming they need to completely throw out the pre-existing cultures after the merger. In fact, companies that do it successfully converge on a few shared values, some common operating principles, and standard processes, but leave other aspects as they were.
"You don't need one common culture for everyone to work together," Aberger says. "Sometimes value can be squandered in pursuit of unnecessary consistency between companies."
Experts say there's no such thing as a merger of equals: one company always brings the dominant culture. Smart companies will go out of their way to be protectionist and preserve certain parts of the smaller entity, Rothbard says.
"There may be certain aspects of the culture you want to preserve and value in the firm you're merging with," she says. "Make sure you don't destroy what made that company a really great company to buy or to merge with."
Start by identifying which aspects of the culture are most important to the bottom line; the rest you may be able to leave untouched.
"Don't try to change everything," Aberger says. "Be very mission critical in your approach."
Rothbard says to make sure not to establish a system of "haves" and "have nots" in the office, which can quickly create tension.
Merging Your Corporate Cultures: Communicate Expectations
To combat that "first day of high school" feeling after a merger, communication is key. This can be done through regular updates, employee surveys, one-on-one lunches, and meetings.
"You absolutely have got to empower people to have a voice in defining what the new corporate culture is going to be," Sprouse says. "What you want to do is find aspects of both cultures that work in the new combined culture."
Rothbard says something that often sinks mergers is when employees don't know what's expected of them in the new environment.
"When people move from one firm to another, they have cultural baggage they bring with them, in terms of how you think you should be behaving to be effective in their job," she says. She cited a hypothetical example of discount insurance company Geico merging with a higher-end insurance firm. Should employees of the new company go after a few high-premium customers or stick with Geico's model of signing on lots of low-end customers?
"That can be a very, very delicate operation," she says.
Sprouse says to make sure not to focus just on the central office either. If you have sites outside the main headquarters, make an extra effort to keep them in the loop.
Most of all, don't expect all this to happen right away. Like any new relationship, it takes time to settle in, usually much longer than you may be expecting.
"Often times we don't know what it is about the culture that may be incompatible," Rothbard says. "It takes time: When we have these skirmishes as things flare up, values and behaviors pan out."
Below you see why national labor union leaders especially those International unions remain with Hillary even as American workers including labor union members have and will be killed by all these global neo-liberal policies and economic crashes. International unions are feeling they are expanding THEIR MARKET-SHARE----IE THERE UNION MEMBERSHIP with all these mergers creating multi-national corporations. No doubt the national labor leaders are getting rich. This article shows one such action with a merger involving Indian corporations with US corporations and India's courts rule for labor. Know which nation did not sign onto TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT? INDIA. No what TPP will do to unions ----kill any labor laws and rights to affect global corporations in ways that harm profit---that means anything. So, we are seeing some international news making it appear international unions are still in the game but those tied to TPP are always the most abusive to labor. Remember as well, many nations like India and China are forcing US corporations out of their countries to take back their economies----so these union deals will more and more be tied to TPP nations.
The point with this talk is this-----these multi-national mergers will have that once US global corporation registered as Indian---Chinese----African----Brazilian----etc. and expect to operate in US International Economic Zones as they do in these nations. Their partners will come to these US International Economic Zones as FOREIGN CORPORATIONS bringing their workforce from that nation and work them as if they were still in that nation. US workers will either be left unemployed or be forced to work for these foreign corporations as these immigrant laborors do. It is an extension of what is happening to US workers made to compete with Latino immigrant workers who are victim of wage theft. Latino workers will become those Asian sweat shop workers as well. Asian workers have it far worse than Latinos working in the US.
Merger between two multinational companies and Union
May 7, 2015
At the time of merger between two multinational companies, can the union insist upon the company to handover copy of the said merger agreement?
This is also one of the debatable question and to discuss on this issue, it can say that based on the proportion of decision High Court of Mumbai, even under the process governing civil litigation, discovery and inspection of documents is for assisting the Court to arrive at the truth. The principles of civil law have been accepted in relation to the working of Tribunals as well. Existence of confidential documents in any industrial undertaking would create problems more sensitive than in an ordinary civil litigation where it could be one seeking repayment of money or recovery of an item of immovable property. The information which enables employee’s representatives to obtain the truth and fair view of the performance of the entity and helps the Union protecting interests of the workmen employed, cannot withheld from the Court on the ground of confidentiality.
Hope this small write up will give insight about pertained subject.
The nations the US FED and Wall Street used to launder subprime mortgage and other financial frauds were primarily China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. These are the people who became rich in their nations----the 1% or 5% of those nations and most of the immigrant/foreign investment corporations being brought to the US to US International Economic Zones are these partners. They are rich because they aided and abetted these Wall Street frauds. This is of course a generalization---not all folks coming from India, China, Brazil, and South Africa are tied to this---but most are. These are now the NEW AMERICANS-----THE CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL IMMIGRANT CITIZEN WING OF THIS WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL. When we see immigrant citizens running for office the first thing we need to think as I am doing with our elections in Baltimore with black and white candidates---those 5% administering all this corporate fraud and government corruption----is that candidate here in the US because they ran from neo-liberal OPPRESSION or are they here because they are partnered with Wall Street. Since Obama and Clinton neo-liberals made the pathway to citizenship IMMEDIATE for those rich enough to buy it--we are now seeing the newly wealthy world's rich in our elections and of course----they often run as progressive, grassroots Democrats---
While the rich in these nations came to the US with their wealth---the power people in BRIC nations said----
WAIT A MINUTE---WE KNOW HOW CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL THE US WALL STREET SYSTEM IS----WE ARE GOING TO BREAK FROM THAT AND CREATE OUR OWN ECONOMY SO OUR NEW WEALTH IS NOT STOLEN BY US BANKS.
'BRICS' nations to form development bank to rival World Bank, IMF
The leaders of so-called BRICS nations: Russian President Vladimir Putin, left; India Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff; Chinese President Xi Jinping; and South African President in Fortaleza, Brazil, for the BRICS Summit. (Nelson Almeida / AFP/Getty Images)
'BRICS' nations to start development bank that will be located in ShanghaiThe so-called BRICS countries agreed to form an international development bank with aspirations to challenge the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa said Tuesday that the New Development Bank will start with $50 billion in capital and $100 billion as a currency reserve fund for liquidity crises. Operating details still need to be resolved.
Still, the BRICS bank, which could add more member nations, represents a bid to expand the influence of the BRICS emerging markets and act as a counterbalance to institutions run by the U.S. and other developed nations, experts said.
"This is about the consolidation of BRICS 2.0," said Marcos Troyjo, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University and co-director of the BRICLab Center. "If BRICS 1.0 was about capturing investor attention to the scale of their economic relevance, BRICS 2.0 is about embarking on institution building."
The BRICs acronym was coined by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O'Neill in 2001 to describe the four large emerging markets — Brazil, Russia, India and China — that could play a large role in global economic growth. They began meeting for periodic summits in 2009, and were later joined by South Africa.
As developing countries began playing a larger role in the world economy, their leaders repeatedly complained that they have not been given correspondingly larger voices in international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, both based in Washington. The U.S. typically appoints the World Bank president, and European countries appoint the IMF chief.
"International governance structures designed within a different power configuration show increasingly evident signs of losing legitimacy and effectiveness," said the official statement signed by the BRICS leaders, who met in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Tuesday. "We believe the BRICS are an important force for incremental change and reform of current institutions toward more representative and equitable governance."
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma hammered out some of the final details before signing the agreement Tuesday.
Among the terms are that the bank will be in Shanghai, its first president will be from India, and the first chair of the board of directors will be from Brazil.
On Wednesday, the BRICS leaders will meet with the heads of South American countries through the intergovernmental Union of South American Nations, which was founded in 2008.
The new bank is expected to make loans for development and infrastructure projects. It also will function as an incubator for development expertise from other emerging economies.
Other countries, such as Indonesia, Mexico or Turkey, could eventually join the bank, Troyjo said, noting that BRICS countries have seen their growth slow over the last few years from the peak of international investor interest in emerging market countries.
"The only thing they may have in common is the use of some kind of state capitalism in their growth," he said. "The BRICS are needing to reinvent themselves, and it's unlikely their route forward can be the same route that got them here."
Here you see what Obama/Bush/Clinton have been working overtime to push-----these major economies BRICS to join the ONE WORLD Trans Pacific Trade Pact and so far they are saying NO WAY. This is why the Wall Street 1% plan of ONE WORLD will not work and is already falling apart. The only way US, Canada, and Australia is tied to it is why these corrupt elections keeping Wall Street neo-liberals in those nations in office as we are seeing in the US----citizens don't want this---we simply cannot get rid of the pols because of US International Economic Zones like Baltimore having systemic election corruption.
The other nations tied to TPP are the poor Asian nations where all the US International Economic Zone enslavement, environmental damage have dictators made rich keeping US in the game in those nations but----THOSE ASIAN NATIONS ARE FEELING THE BURN---OF A STRONG CHINESE ECONOMIC PRESSURE against this partnership with the US and Clinton/Obama/Bush know these deals are not a done deal. Wall Street is mostly focused on bringing Europe and the US down to Asian third world level so global corporations can operate in the US as they do overseas so will continue to push TPP in the US no matter what.
All of this international public policy is very complicated for those people just starting to look at policy. The important issue is seeing how US corporations are no longer US----and how the foreign rich and foreign corporations are integrating into our US International Economic Zone cities like Baltimore. It will not end well for Americans even those 5% Wall Street players as it will get real third world soon---no holds bar.
Pivoting without the BRICS?
February 25, 2013, 11:22 am
One of the many neoliberal slogans often heard in the corridors of power of the rich (and very much indebted) industrialised west is the virtue of free trade. The theory of free trade preaches that when all follow the same rules all will later enjoy benefits. Practice, however, is very different. The powerful western economies are selective when it comes to membership in free trade areas and those who benefit the most are those who make the rules. Presumably this is the political calculus behind the proposed free trade zones comprising the US and the EU and Washington’s Trans-Pacific Partnership talks – both enterprises intentionally exclude or target the BRICS.
On November 12, 2011, the leaders of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States – announced the broad outlines of an ambitious, 21st-century Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) aims to be an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects US economic priorities and values. The slated aims of this agreement are that through the TPP, the Obama Administration is seeking to boost US economic growth and support the creation and retention of American jobs by increasing exports in the region.
China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) seeks to link 16 Asia-Pacific countries with the notable absence of the US [Xinhua]
The idea of a US-EU free trade zone has also been around for a while. From a purely trade point of view there are compelling reasons to integrate these two huge markets closer than they already are. However, this idea will probably go nowhere on its merits. The Americans and the Europeans need to get their financial house in order before they can seriously consider a closer trading relationship. Further trade integration would be akin to bad money chasing bad money. Meanwhile, the world is rapidly moving forward.
No all-out war
Then there is the issue of serious political realities. American and European publics are in no mood for more integration of anything when the issue of diminished sovereignty is considered. The supporters of this new mega trading zone are prepared for this accusation – it is a card called the BRICS. Tighter economic integrations is not the selling point of a US-EU trading zone; the PR pitch is to counter the economic, financial, and monetary dynamism of the emerging market world. This approach is backward looking and defensive – and is probably doomed to fail as a result.
The idea of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to overtly counter China’s growing regional economy hegemony and keeping it from going global.
Meanwhile, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama confirmed last Friday, that Japan will not have to vow to remove all trade tariffs if it joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade initiative, coaxing the country’s early entry into the ongoing talks.
In a very meaningful way the US is creating a red line with the global trading system. China will not let this stand. But what is ahead will not be an all-out trade war embroiling Washington and Beijing. China didn’t become the second largest economy by accident – expect a robust (by Chinese standards) response to Washington.
Again the rhetoric of this “partnership” is free trade. Though it is clear Washington is most interested in corralling its strategic military allies within the Pacific Rim into a trading bloc that is demonstratively at odds with Beijing’s trading interests.
Obama announced US support for a US-EU trade pact during his State of the Nation address [Getty Images]
BRICS to consolidate in face of exclusion from TPP
Washington is pursuing this approach that imperils its own trade and security interests in the region and far beyond. Essentially, Asian trading countries are being asked to choose between a fading economic superpower with entangled alliances all over the world and the “factory of the world.” At this point, it should surprise anyone many Asian countries (even under Washington’s military umbrella) are taking a wait and see approach to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Why are the BRICS excluded? The simplest reason is the lack of vision and uncompetitiveness of the industrialised west. Unable or willing to reform at home, Washington and Brussels are looking for ways to recast much of the global trade system to maintain their advantage. However, without the constructive participation of the BRICS and other emerging economies there is little prospect the west will continue to be able to drive global trade flows. The BRICS today have the wealth, consumption power, geopolitical position, expertise and the political will to influence and re-arrange the global system to their net advantage. And there is the obvious unintended consequence: targeted by the US-EU deal and excluded from Trans-Pacific Partnership will only push the BRICS world closer together (and at the expense of the west).
The Washington-Brussels “pivot” on global trade fails to take into account the protectionist nature of trading blocs today and underestimate the power and dynamism of globalisation. The BRICS have learned the hard way. If you join a club in which you can in no meaningful way influence the rules, then you will always be a junior member, essentially a second-class partner. Since global growth continues to be driven by the emerging market world, there is no reason whatsoever for the BRICS to settle for less.
Here is just such a multi-national corporation made a global giant during Obama's terms by all these mergers and acquisitions----in the US this global water VEOLA is tied to Ivy League endowments through Wall Street global HighStar Investment Firm part of this multi-national mix. This article show how it is doing the same in nations around the world as it is in Baltimore and US cities deemed US International Economic Zones. The major issue for Baltimore citizens was water bills----all of Wall Street Baltimore Development 'justice' organizations PRETENDED to be fighting against this as they only highlighted the establishment candidates in mayoral forums and Dixon/PUGH----both the most responsible for having attached VEOLA ENVIRONMENTAL to Baltimore's water department a decade ago. Yet, these two LED THE PACK for citizens and I will not believe that many voters actually voted for this KNOWING these privatization ties.
As Wall Street, the FED, and Congress with Obama worked as hard as they could to create these mergers and massive global corporations-----Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall pols were passing laws allowing them to partner with our public agencies creating this pathway to control when this economic crash---also created by these same pols occurs.
Reviving the old demons of water privatisation? Veolia in India
15 October 2013 by Olivier Petitjean
Today, India is a favored market for Veolia and the French water industry. This is both for commercial reasons and because public private partnerships (PPPs) in India are seen as a good opportunity to restore their international reputation and rehabilitate water privatisation. Veolia is eager to paint a very rosy picture of the new contracts it has signed in Nagpur, Delhi and elsewhere. Reality on the ground, however, is very different. Financial opacity, conflicts of interest, opposition from local residents and officials - all the usual problems associated with water privatisation are still there. Have French water multinationals learned nothing from the past?
This article was originally published in French. Also read Veolia’s response (also in French).
Recently, French multinationals Suez and Veolia have been eager to present India as a new El Dorado for water privatization. The largely untapped India market, with its almost infinite potential, would allow them to renew with commercial expansion, restore their reputation, and prove that private water management – a model that has come under heavy criticism recently, both in France and abroad - is still a valid option in today’s world.
In March 2012, Veolia hailed its first contract in India involving the delegation of the water service as a whole across an entire municipality for 25 years, in Nagpur, Maharashtra (2.4 million inhabitants). This came on top of a multitude of smaller deals (pilot projects, construction and maintenance of treatment plants, technical and administrative assistance, etc.), often conceived or advertised as spearheads for future, larger privatisation contracts. In Delhi and in the state of Karnataka, local authorities have implemented pilot projects which are almost openly designed to pave the way for a more general privatisation of their water services. A tantalizing prospect for Suez and Veolia given the scale of the potential market and its needs.
But reality was quick to catch up with the French water companies and their Indian partners. There has been strong resistance to water privatisation both from civil society and within the bureaucracy. Several dubious financial transactions have been exposed, as well as, more generally, a widespread collusion between political and economic interests. These accusations were not without echo in the Indian political context, which is still marked by the important social movements against corruption of 2011 and 2012. Finally, despite the usual stereotypes about the alleged superiority of private management, Suez and Veolia quickly became entangled in multiple technical and operational difficulties on the ground. There, they found exactly the same problems that have hindered the development and operation of successful public water services in Indian cities – plus the disadvantages of their own inexperience in India and of the new requirement to siphon out money from the water service for the benefit of their shareholders and (legally or not) of their local partners.
According to a June 2013 report by the Indian magazine Outlook, identical problems have surfaced in every “public private partnership” (PPP) contract in India, whether they involve French groups or not. Of 30 PPP projects identified by the magazine, none has yet lived up to its promises, although water rates have increased on average by 100%. Several PPPs are on the verge of collapse, such as the contract between the city of Mysore and Jusco (Tata Group).
In Nagpur, the private consortium led by Veolia does not seem to have many allies left. Politicians of the nationalist BJP party (which controls the municipality) and of the Congress (municipal opposition) have unusually agreed among themselves to ask mayor Anil Sole for the PPP contract to be cancelled. They reported a multiplication of mistakes, delays and incidents, especially those involving the tanker trucks supposed to supply off-grid areas, spoke out against the rising cost of water for residents. The mayor promised to launch judicial action in order to force the consortium to meet its contractual obligations, but refuses for now to challenge the contract itself. Recently, Veolia and its partners have had to officially admit that they would not be able to meet the deadline prescribed under the financing agreement with the Indian government, which could lead to a cancellation of all national subsidies for the project and thus increase the final bill for the Nagpur municipality .
Ultimately, one is left with a nagging sense of déjà vu: accusations of corruption, conflicts of interest, political and financial opacity, threats of dramattic increases in water rates, unfulfilled promises, difficult relationships with local political authorities... It’s like being back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, at the time of the first great wave of water privatisation, which resulted for Suez and Veolia (then Vivendi) in a succession of scandals, conflicts and forced exits. Are the French water multinationals repeating the mistakes of the past, and are they headed towards the same kind of failures? The dream of reviving and rehabilitating private water management already seems to be running out of steam.
The Indian dream of French water multinationals
Why India? The country offers the double advantage of being an “emerging market” and, somewhat against the global current, being governed by politicians who openly support the privatisation of water. In opposition to what happens in China, for example, where political authorities still control the extent and nature of foreign investments in the water and sanitation sector, the Indian government is a strong supporter of "public-private partnerships". It actively promotes them both through its new "National Water Policy" and, more pragmatically, by making its subsidies to states and municipalities for water projects conditional to the involvement of private investors, Indian or foreigners.
Most of the contracts signed to date in India by Veolia and Suez are joint-ventures with a small group of Indian firms with strong political connections (and probably interested, in the short or medium term, to capture most of the benefits of water privatisation). These deals are also heavily subsidized by the Indian government. This is a reality which Suez and Veolia choose not to stress in their communication. They to emphasize the almost unlimited potential of the Indian market, because of its demographics, its haphazard urban growth and the often poor state of its public infrastructure and water networks. How is it conceivable, they argue, that the Indian giant, as it is gaining the status of an economic and political superpower, is still be unable to provide a modern and efficient water service to a large proportion of its urban population (not to mention rural areas)? How is it conceivable that not only the poor and excluded, but even the middle and upper classes do not have a continuous supply of running water, every hour of every day (which is termed in India "24x7")?
In the era of financialisation, corporate communication and promises of future profits play a critical role in the operation of transnational companies. And especially so for Suez and Veolia, the French water firms. Their traditional business model has been dramatically challenged in recent years because of increasing demands and critics, including in their historical French stronghold. The Indian El Dorado was to provide them with a new commercial and moral legitimacy: Suez and Veolia would bring their technology and expertise to the Indians, in order to meet both the aspirations of the rich and the basic needs of the poor.
And there was even some icing on the cake. This Indian scenario would also allow Suez and Veolia to present themselves as “friends” of the poor without access to water - particularly women, untouchables and all those discriminated against by Indian society. Of course, Veolia and Suez would not repeat their mistakes of the past. The page was turned. They would demonstrate how private companies could facilitate access to water for the poor, by adapting to their “specific needs” thanks to anthropological expertise and to innovative “social business” methods. And thereby they would also prove that they, private sector water multinationals, do have a key role in achieving the “Millennium Development Objectives”, which justifies the subsidies and other advantages granted to them by international financial institutions and development agencies. For instance, Veolia operates in India through its subsidiary Veolia Water India Africa, of which it owns 80.5%, the rest being owned by the French Development Agency (AFD) through its subsidiary Proparco (5.6%) and by the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank Group, 13.9%).
Breaking through the Indian market was particularly crucial for Veolia in this respect since, as the NGO Food and Water Watch has shown, despite the rhetoric of the company on the right to water and the Millennium Development Goals, it almost systematically avoids countries where lack of access to water actually is a problem. India is one of the few exceptions. In Nagpur, Veolia proudly publicised its objectives of connecting slum dwellers to the water system (“A first in India”, they said), as well as the fact that they had commissioned a research study by ESSEC Business School in order to “better understand the needs of local people, especially those living in slums and better meet their expectations”.
To ensure that the message would go down well with international agencies, investors and the French public, Veolia even invited a group of French journalists in Nagpur in September 2012. Although this visit took place only a few months after the French firm had taken over the water service (in March of the same year), the tone of the resulting articles - published in the Figaro, Paris Match and Les Échos - was as euphoric as it was paternalistic: “Finally running water!”, “A revolution inspired by a French firm”... These reports all tell the same story (often interviewing the very same people): how Veolia, providing water continuously to all, was going to save Indians, especially women, from disease, poverty, backwardness and exclusion. And how, at the same time, Veolia was opening for itself a new market of endless potential.
Nagpur: Veolia entangled
Needless to say, what these reports did not mention is that the vast majority of investments in Nagpur come from public sources (national or local). Veolia was allowed to take all the credit for the ’success’ of the PPP (however doubtful that success actually is) without having taken much risk, including in financial terms. The press reports did not mention either that the French group only owns a 51% stake in the consortium, Orange City Water Ltd (OCW), and is associated with local partners, including the giant construction firm Vishvaraj Infrastructure, on which it depends for its political connections and its day-to-day operations. Vishvaraj Infrastructure is a good example of the type of Indian players with which Veolia and Suez have had to work with: after having reaped enormous profits in recent years from its motorway concessions, the group is now looking to expand into the water sector, taking advantage of his “expertise” in PPPs.
More importantly, these reports totally ignored the problems that were accumulating at the very same time and gradually poisoning the relationships between the private operator, residents and local authorities. According to the Times of India, Veolia had even invited the French journalists without notifying municipal authorities, even though they had them visit facilities which are municipal properties.
And all this came at a time when the political authorities were rather expecting the arrival of an official delegation from Veolia’s headquarters in Paris to “put some order”, following complaints that had been addressed, both in writing and orally, to company’s top executives some months before, about delays in undertaking the works. The municipality had even refused to pay its fees to Veolia for the period from December 2011 to February 2012, as no work at all had been done. While the French press was hailing Veolia’s contract as “mission accomplished”, official figures from the Nagpur Municipality showed that the private consortium had only replaced 27 kilometers of pipes and connected 876 new homes in nine months, a pace largely insufficient to meet its contractual obligations. Meanwhile, OCW agents were accused of illegally charging large sums of money to slum residents for their connection to the water network (which in theory is free) and their water consumption, and of threatening them to cut off water in case of nonpayment.
It does seem that for the leaders of Veolia, the complaints of local authorities did not have much weight in comparison to the firm’s dire need of upbeat financial communication, at a time when the company’s share value was going downhill. While in France Veolia was polishing his financial marketing, Veolia India CEO Patrick Rousseau declared the to Times of India: “We are facing problem of finding trained manpower, machinery and equipment in the city. But the company hopes to expedite the works and complete them in time with the help of the local partner. It upsets me that Veolia is being blamed when the responsibility is of OCWL [of which Veolia owns 51%, Ed]”.
Citizens and politicians of all stripes are now calling for the cancellation of the water contract with Veolia and accuse the private operator of sheer incompetence. According to them, OCW has made so many mistakes that it has caused an artificial water shortage in the city.