Thursday, 26 February 2009

"Are the Germans giving up on the Euro? Another Shocker from Ambrose

The Telegraph has never been a lover of the Euro, so it is not surprising to read that one of its foremost economic journalists suggesting as much. But this article suggests economic disintigration of the European Union in a most shocking fashion. The EU's most indebted states are being slowly strangled by a currency that is grossly overvalued. The consequences for countries like Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy staying in the Euro may now possibly prove too great - mass unemployment and deep retrenchment in public services, with the added burden of much higher taxes. These countries need to devalue by around 60% but are constrained by richer northern countries like Germany who have no intention of bailing them out. It's a real shocker!  Going forward, a gold-backed currency for everyone may be the only way out.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Can Paul Volcker Save The US and Capitalism Again?

In his fascinating speech given yesterday former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, gives his analysis and reactions on how the US and the world's economies have weakened "at a shocking rate" over the last year. ( See below ) What is most interesting about his speech is how he explicitly avoids what he and the President's team will do about the crisis in the coming days. There are strong hints that the banking system is going to be organised and regulated in manner far different from before. He is probably working with most of the world's governments to put together international regulations on banks to take account of our global business world: something the previous US administration did not have the wit nor relationships to do. It is increasingly apparent that the manner in which the world's banks and financial institutions were regulated had more in common with the Victorian age than with our own. Volcker thinks that he can save "capitalism" by doing this. But by his own admission if he fails, so too, will the capitalist world as we know it.

It was Paul Volcker who saved the US economy and its dollar in the early 80s with high interest rates. The cost of this was the destruction of much of the US's industrial base. At 81 whether he and his economic team can salvage the capitalist economic system remains to be seen. Due to globalisation the economic problems this time are far greater and higher interest rates would damage the US and much of the world's economies. Masses of jobless, homeless, starving people would demand a revolution and a different economic system.

In an interview with Charlie Rose last September Volcker offered a vignette about FDR Roosevelt closing the banks for several days to sort out the good ones from the bad. Roosevelt gave a fire-side chat on the radio to reassure Americans that the new banks would be safe and when the banks opened after four days the US public believed him. They trusted the banks that reopened because of the President's crediblity. Volcker laughed at this because Roosevelt knew that there was no way that the banks could have been thoroughly checked out in that time. It was a piece of theatre intended to inspire public confidence, something that most bankers and politicians are unable to emulate today. Roosevelt inspired confidence and that made the difference. Of course, the US economy and others around the world continued to suffer the effects of the Depression because their economies were too badly led and damaged before Roosevelt's arrival in office. Banks are the backbone of capitalism and if Volcker and Obama's economic team can restore confidence in banks the rest will fall into place.

By the way, the other thing that FDR Roosevelt did that should have been done before he entered office was to devalue the dollar and increase the price of gold. His predecessor and his advisers did not understand the damage that a strong dollar would inflict on the US economy. Somehow I don't think Volcker and Obama will repeat this mistake.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The UK - a land where workers have fewer rights than ANYWHERE else in Europe

The sacking of the "agency" BMW workers where they only received "one hour's notice" is just one of the "fruits" of Tony Blair and P.M. Brown's proudly proclaimed "opt outs" from workers' rights, such as "the working time directive" and other rights which would have protected agency workers; workers who would never have been "agency workers" in the first place had they the luck to be citizens in other, less punitive, European Union states. 

The trades unions have also conspired against their members by drawing their own generous salaries, no doubt enhanced by commissions for selling home and car insurance, and the like, instead of striving to protect and improve the working rights and conditions of their members. Like the "watchdogs" who failed to monitor Britain's banks and other financial institutions Britain's trade unions have, with only rare exceptions, embraced consumer style capitalism and forgotten what they formed to do!

When British workers wake up to having been sold out "for years" by successive governments, their media and their unions there will be hell to pay in that increasingly impoverished country.

The "muddy trench" of Labour's "Third Way" has been the consumer strewn path to oblivion - for everyone.

The YouTube video shot by one of the workers shows the shameful collusion of the union, Unite, with its officials representing management telling the workers that they were sacked. The Union were in talks with BMW's management for three weeks but said nothing to the agency workers until an hour before they were sacked. The workers had PAID DUES to the union but union representation was an illusion. Notice how the union representatives look like middle-aged skinhead thugs whereas the workers are mostly immigrants. The union "representatives" show little sympathy and actually say that they support the reduction of shifts that led to the sacking of the agency workers. The collusion of unions with big business and in the public sector has led to the betrayal of workers' rights for 'geld' and position over the last thirty years. This just could not have happened in the 1970s.

The union officials in the video are the modern equivalent of the Jewish policemen in the Warsaw Ghetto. Too many unions have allowed themselves to become management's industrial police men and women. Their exposure as such will become even more evident as the banker induced 'Depression' hits home over the next few years.

Japan - The Worst Economic Crisis Since World War II

Comparisons with World War II are in full swing as Japan says its economy contracted by almost 13%!!!  Will this lead to hyperinflation? You bet your life it will!

I've heard of customer loyalty but . . .

The next business quarter around the world will be quite something to behold.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

'A Monetary Stalingrad" is on its way to Europe

With journalists like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and at least two other colleagues at The Telegraph this newspaper sports the most knowledgeable financial journalists in print of any UK newspaper. Little, if anything can be learned from those in other broadsheets and the tabloids offer mere escapism. Nor is financial education much better on the radio or TV. The BBC'S Robert Peston is laughably overrated and followed by the ignorant in the media as well by the public. He is always behind the economic curve. Only Max Keiser's satirical programme "The Oracle" offers "a late night" realistic view of world economics on the BBC.

Europe's loans to Eastern Europe's states within and outside the EU are going to cause the next world economic storm - and that is still while the US and UKs' banks are bankrupt and their debts are bankrupting their countries. Latvia's economy along with most UK and US banks is "clinically dead" and the Bank Austria and its Italian owner is facing "a monetary Stalingrad". Depending which figures one wants to accept Germany's gross domestic product shrank between 8 to 9 per cent in the last quarter! Ireland and several other EU countries are effectively bankrupt! The storm could hit within days or weeks. Major political upheaval and change will ensue.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

"Snake" by D.H. Lawrence

This is the poem that we read as "an unseen" in class the other day. It's a modernist poem full of symbolism and the central tension between the "voice of education" or civilisation and "earth-bound" feelings. It's a good choice to try out the various analytical skills you need to understand poetry.

The following acronym should help

Subject and theme(s)
Rhythm (and rhyme in poems where appropriate)

Form and Structure and other areas such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, enjambment, assonance, symbolism, etc. should also be noted for the meaning that it adds to this and other poems.

Remember that Lawrence thought that a poem's form was determined by the emotional patterns caused by the feelings of the narrator. The lingering, pauses and rhythm (pace) is essential for meaning. Of course, other literary texts, for instance,  Genesis, John Milton's "Paradise Lost"  and S.T. Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" are are also alluded to in 

Monday, 9 February 2009

Thomas Hardy on an earlier Dorset poet, William Barnes

William Barnes 1801–1886

In 1918 Thomas Humphry Ward published in several volumes, The English Poets. The works of the poets being introduced by another author. The works of William Barnes, the ‘Dorset Poet’ were introduced by that other Dorset poet and author, Thomas Hardy, and it is that introduction which follows.
The veil of a dialect, through which except in a few cases readers have to discern whatever of real poetry there may be in William Barnes, is disconcerting to many, and to some distasteful, chiefly, one thinks, for a superficial reason which has more to do with spelling than with the dialect itself. As long as the spelling of standard English is other than phonetic it is not obvious why that of the old Wessex language should be phonetic, except in a pronouncing dictionary. We have however to deal with Barnes’s verse as he chose to write it, merely premising that his aim in the exact literation of Dorset words is not necessarily to exhibit humour and grotesqueness.
It often seemed strange to lovers of Barnes that he, a man of insight and reading, should have persisted year after year to sing in a tongue which, though a regular growth and not a provincial corruption, is indubitably fast perishing. He said that he could nothelp it. But he may have seen the unwisdom of such self-limitation — at those times, let us suppose, when he appeared to be under an uncontrollable impulse to express his own feelings, and to convey an ampler interpretation of life than his rustic vehicle would carry unenlarged, which resulted in his putting into the mouths of husbandmen compound epithets that certainly no user of the dialect ever concocted out of his own brain, and subtle sentiments that would have astonished those husbandmen and their neighbours.
But though true dramatic artistry lies that way, the way of all who differentiate imaginative revelation from the blind transcripts of a reporter’s note-book, it was probably from some misgivings on the score of permanence that now and then he would turn a lyric in “common English,” and once or twice brought out a little volume so written as an experiment. As usual, the prepossessions of his cocksure critics would not allow them to tolerate what they had not been accustomed to, a new idea, and the specimens were coldly received; which seems to have discouraged him. Yet in the opinion of the present writer the ordinary language which, as a school-master, Barnes taught for nearly forty years, could soon have been moulded to verse as deftly as dialect by a man whose instinct it was to catch so readily the beat of hearts around him. I take as an example the lines (which I translate) on the husband who comes home from abroad to find his wife long dead : —
“The rose was dust that bound her brow,Moth-eaten was her Sunday cape,Her frock was out of fashion now,Her shoes were dried up out of shape —Those shoes that once had glittered blackAlong the upland’s beaten track;”
and his frequent phrases like that of the autumn sun “wandering wan,” the “wide-horned cows,” the “high-sunned” noons, the “hoarse cascade,” the “hedgerow-bramble’s swinging bow.”
Barnes, in fact, surprising as it may seem to those who know him, and that but a little, as a user of dialect only, was an academic poet, akin to the school of Gray and Collins, rather than a spontaneous singer of rural songs in folk-language like Burns, or an extemporizer like the old balladists. His apparently simple unfoldings are as studied as the so-called simple Bible-narratives are studied; his rhymes and alliterations often cunningly schematic. The speech of his ploughmen and milkmaids in his Eclogues — his own adopted name for these pieces — is as sound in its syntax as that of the Tityrus and Meliboeus of Virgil whom he had in mind, and his characters have often been likened to the shepherds and goatherds in the idylls of Theocritus.
Recognition came with the publication of the first series of Dorset poems in 1844, though some reviewers were puzzled whether to criticize them on artistic or philological grounds; later volumes however were felt to be the poetry of profound art by Coventry Patmore, F. T. Palgrave, H. M. Moule, and others. They saw that Barnes, behind his word-screen’, had a quality of the great poets, a clear perception or instinct that human emotion is the primary stuff of poetry.
Repose and content mark nearly all of Barnes’s verse; he shows little or none of the spirit of revolt which we find in Burns; nothing of the revolutionary politics of Beranger. He held himself artistically aloof from the ugly side of things — or perhaps shunned it unconsciously; and we escape in his pictures the sordid miseries that are laid bare in Crabbe, often to the destruction of charm. But though he does not probe life so deeply as the other parson-poet I have named, he conserves the poetic essence more carefully, and his reach in his highest moments, as exampled by such a poignant lyric as The Wife a-lost, or by the emotional music of Woak Hill, or The Wind at the Door, has been matched by few singers below the best.

This is a link for more information on Barnes and where you can listen to one of his poems

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A reading of Christopher Marlowe's "A Passionate Shepherd To His Love"

Marlowe's carpe diem lyric with its idyllic rural setting became very popular as a poem of seduction in its day ( the Elizabethan period of the late 1500s ). The speaker makes several naturalistic promises for the voiceless woman's chastity but he does not make an offer of marriage.

Here's a full set of notes on this poem.  When you get there examine the links on the right of the page  for further information on this interesting poem.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Henry Fielding and London in the 1750s

By the 1750s, when Thomas Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" was published (although it was probably begun in 1742) London was growing at an astonishing rate through trade and from an influx of people from the countryside. More than 575,000 souls existed in overcrowded streets in which crime, disease, gin-drinking, fake lotteries, afflicted everyone. 

As today, the differences between the rich and the poor was increasing year, by year. Great affluence existed alongside grinding poverty. It was still the age of  "The Peacock Man" which had begun after the Restoration 90 years before. It was an age of excessive behaviour in dress and immoral living; it was an age of exuberance and depression - an age of science and and an age of extremes.

For more information on London during this period try this link:

An Extract from La Follia by Arcangelo Corelli 1653-1713

To understand the context of a period, say the late 1600s to the early 1700s, it helps to listen to the music that was popular at the time. This extract from "La Follia' (the latter word is derived from "folly") is useful for understanding the ornate nature of the baroque, the style in music, art, architecture and furniture at the time.

Arcangelo Corelli died a rich man because of aid of his patrons and the quality art of his compositions. Captain Corelli in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" from the A2 text of the same name derives his name and nationality from Arcangelo Corelli.

"Elegy in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, a reading and notes

"Elegy In A Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, published in 1751. Surely one of the greatest poems ever penned.

Michael J. Cummings Study Guide

More excellent notes from the University of Toronto

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Is the FED making progress on reflating the US economy?

Two articles from different sources weigh up the evidence that the US Federal Reserve is already making progress on reflating the US economy. The implications for gold and silver from the Fed monetizing treasury bonds and other financial assets are highly favourable - although you would never know it from the action in gold and related PM stocks today. The next two to three weeks may hold pleasant surprises for some gold and silver bugs.

Boris Sobolev is a known PM investor

Bloomberg represents "Main Street"

Monday, 2 February 2009

A Chart Explaining Elizabethan, Metaphysical, and Cavalier Poetry

This is a pretty clear explanation of the differences between each poetic style from the three periods. It's also very useful for understanding the literary, historical and cultural contexts ( AO5ii ).

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Max Keiser and the Oracle for 30th of January 2009

Get past the jaunty presentation and Max and his guests have serious things to say on the world economy and gold. Last week Max's Oracle predicted a currency crisis for the Pound in April this year. This is part one of the current program. If you want the other parts you can click on the program and search on Youtube.

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.