Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

Japan Slides Into Recession; Obama Presidency Seen as No Help

November 17, 2008

Japan’s economy slid into a recession for the first time since 2001, the government said Monday, as companies sharply cut back on spending in the third quarter amid the unfolding global financial crisis.

The world’s second-largest economy contracted at an annual pace of 0.4 percent in the July-September period after a declining an annualized 3.7 percent in the second quarter. That means Japan, along with the 15-nation euro-zone, is now technically in a recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

The result was worse than expected. Economists surveyed by Kyodo News agency had predicted gross domestic product would gain an annualized 0.1 percent.

Japan’s Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said following the data’s release that “the economy is in a recessionary phase.”

But the worst may be yet to come, especially with dramatic declines in demand from consumers overseas for Japan’s autos and electronics gadgets. Hurt also by a strengthening yen, a growing number of exporters big and small are slashing their profit, sales and spending projections for the full fiscal year through March.

Toyota Motor Corp., for example, has cut net profit full-year profit forecast to 550 billion yen ($5.5 billion) — about a third of last year’s earnings. And Sony Corp., whose July-September profit plunged 72 percent, expects to make 59 percent less this fiscal year than last year.

“What we’re starting to see is the extent of deterioration in external demand start to weigh more heavily on the Japanese economy,” said Glen Maguire, chief Asia economist at Societe Generale. “And I think looking forward, there’s every indication that dynamic is going to continue.”

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For Japan, Obama Signals A Shift Closer to China, Away From “Traditional” Asian Allies
The Japanese do not share the jubilation seen almost everywhere following the election of Barack Obama. 

Economically, Japan sees an Obama White House funding the American Big Three Automakers: GM, Chrysler and Ford.  And that’s bad for Japan’s automakers.

Japan, for one nation, prefers to allow the “system” to work without more government intervention.

On the foreign policy level, Japan fears North Korea’s erratic behavior and nuclear capability.  It also fears China as a tradition enemy of immense wealth, population and size which can easily overwhelm the economy of Japan.

Japan fears the presidency of Barack Obama.  “So far, no good,” one senior diplomat told Peace and Freedom.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapal, Virginia

Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan


Suicide-Terrorism: It’s Time President-Elect Demonstrates He Understands, Has a Plan

November 6, 2008

Despite a noisy campaign, neither presidential candidate ever really understood jihadist terror. Now it is essential that the origins and purpose of suicide-terrorism become fully apparent to the president-elect.

The core meanings of jihadist operations have little or nothing to do with criminality, deprivation or oppression, but rather are founded in fear, hatred and Islamist supremacism. These deeply held personal feelings derive from patterns of shared belief and indoctrination. A consuming horror of death, yearning for the ecstasy of anticipated union with Allah, grotesque joy from targeting “others” who “lack sacredness” and an abiding hatred of “apostates” and “infidels” are the real motivators that drive suicide bombers to their atrocities.

This 2000 US Navy (USN) image shows US Navy and Marine Corps ... 
This 2000 US Navy image shows US Navy and Marine Corps security personnel patrolling past the damaged US Navy destroyer USS Cole following the October 12. 2000 terrorist suicide bombing attack on the ship in Aden, Yemen.(AFP/HO USN/File/Lyle G. Becker)

Louis Rene Beres and Clare Lopez
The Washington Times

Suicide-bombing terrorism comes from centuries of Islamic doctrine, derived from what is held to be divinely revealed scripture. But declarations, charters and Islamist fatwas provide only an abstract of juridical texts compiled by Islamic scholars. These define jihad as just war against non-Muslims to establish the religion. This is not the understanding we expected from our presidential candidates, but it is what jihadist terror is all about.

The monstrousness of suicide terror-violence leaves humanity grasping for some explanation to bridge the gap between those who would deliberately inflict such anguish and ourselves. For many Americans, and likely for our president-elect, such barbarism defies not only language, but also the very definition of what it means to be human. The inexpressibility of pain impedes our ability to recognize terror-violence as evil and unforgivable. Instead, it is easier to fall back on widespread but legally incorrect celebrations of terrorists as “freedom fighters.”

Understanding jihadist terror-violence is a responsibility that carries legal consequences for those who swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. It carries existential consequences for all who cherish a way of life based on the values of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. For both citizen and policy-maker, the most important truth is that the jihadist terrorist fights not only to compel unbelievers to embrace Islam. The jihadist terrorist kills and dies to end the sovereignty of unbelievers, a sovereignty that prevents the supremacy of Islam from transforming Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam.

Jihadist terror is literally commanded by Allah in the Koran. “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power … to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies.” Early Muslims seized eagerly on such divine injunctions, launching a campaign of political assassination against local Jewish poets and leaders. These killings were followed by the siege and expulsion of Jewish tribes around Medina, the massacre of Jewish men, and enslavement of their women and children. Horrified, other tribes capitulated, fled or converted to Islam. Calculated, calibrated application of terror can work, and jihadist terrorists know it.

German soldiers -- with the NATO-led International Security ...
German soldiers — with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — on a night patrol near Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. A defence ministry spokesman says a suicide bomber targetted German troops in Kunduz, without providing any details on the number of casualties or deaths.(AFP/DDP/File/Michael Kappeler)

China-US ties seen smooth under Obama presidency

November 6, 2008

China-US ties should remain steady under an Obama presidency, due largely to Washington’s need for cooperation on the global financial crisis from an increasingly powerful Beijing, experts said.

Obama, who won office on Tuesday, criticised Chinese trade policies during his campaign, but not in particularly strident terms.

Chinese President Hu Jintao at a G8 press briefing in Sapporo ... 
Chinese President Hu Jintao at a G8 press briefing in Sapporo in early July. China-US ties should remain steady under an Obama presidency, due largely to Washington’s need for cooperation on the global financial crisis from an increasingly powerful Beijing, experts have said.(AFP/File/Jewel Samad)

And with myriad other problems to face, including two wars and the US financial meltdown , his attention will be diverted from such concerns as China’s currency policy and its military build-up, analysts said.

By Dan Martin, AFP

“It should be a very smooth transition. Obama is not a president who ran against China,” said Professor David Zweig, an expert on Chinese foreign relations at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

By contrast, he said, the campaigns of the past four US presidents, with the exception of the elder George Bush, all featured tough words for Beijing.

“This could be the smoothest transition since 1980,” Zweig said.

The need to coax China into global efforts to address the world financial crisis could force Obama to mute criticism on other issues, observers said.

“Obama will not try to project China in negative terms,” said Bahukutumbi Raman, a fellow with India’s Chennai Centre for China Studies.

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Is the Wall Street Crisis Reflecting Fear of Obama?

October 13, 2008

By Charles Gasparino
The New York Post

Barack Obama has re mained cool and confident amid the financial melt down, even as John McCain at times has been embarrassing, lurching from one proposal to the next. But while the polls are reflecting Obama’s steady hand, the markets haven’t. In fact, they’re getting worse by the day as Obama’s lead widens.

Most investors know the devil is in the details – and the details of Obama’s economic plans are anything but reassuring.

Of course, the market turmoil is first a reflection of grim reality – the bursting of the housing bubble and the billions upon billions in writedowns and losses that have forced upon the hugely leveraged financial firms companies that had cranked big profits during the bubble years.

The resulting credit crunch is hitting Main Street harder than ever before. The country is headed for recession; the only question is: Just how low can the markets and economy go?

It could be a lot lower – it all depends on the policies of the next president.

And, as it looks increasingly likely that Obama will be that man, the markets are casting a vote of “no confidence.”

To be fair, McCain hardly instills confidence among the Wall Streeters I speak to. Why has his campaign spent the last week focusing on Obama’s friendship with former terrorist William Ayers – when it should be hitting Obama’s blind loyalty to policies that bring together the worst elements of Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter?

Recently, Obama said he wants to expedite loans to small businesses, so he seems to have a clue that they produce much of the country’s job growth. Yet his income-tax hike on upper brackets will hit vast numbers of small businesses – they’d face the highest rates they’ve seen in decades.

Overall, his plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He’d expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan – plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else.

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Fear, Panic, the Economy and Ridding Ourselves of Debt

October 13, 2008

By Robert J. Samuelson
The Washington Post

It’s easy to explain the continuing financial chaos — and the failure of governments to control it — as the triumph of psychology. Fear reigns, and panic follows. Everyone dumps stocks because everyone believes that everyone else will sell. Only rapidly falling prices attract sufficient buyers. All this is true. But it ignores the real engine of mayhem: “deleveraging.” That’s economic shorthand for purging the financial system of too much debt.

Just how this deleveraging proceeds will largely determine the fate, for good or ill, of the crisis. The turmoil has already moved beyond “subprime mortgages,” which (it now seems) merely exposed widespread financial failings. These were global, not just American, and their pervasiveness explains why leaders of the major economies have struggled, so far unsuccessfully, to fashion a common response.

An employee of the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) counts U.S. 100-dollar ...

Alone, American subprime mortgages should not have triggered a global crisis. Losses are smaller than they seem. Mark Zandi of Moody’s estimates that all U.S. mortgage losses will ultimately reach $650 billion. But that hefty amount pales against the value of all financial assets — stocks, bonds, bank loans. For the United States, these totaled almost $60 trillion at the end of 2007; for the world, the comparable figure exceeded $250 trillion.

Such a vast financial system should have absorbed the subprime losses without calamity. By way of contrast, the stock market’s drop since its peak in October 2007 to Friday was $8.4 trillion, or 42 percent, reports Wilshire Associates. The official response to the subprime losses also seems larger than the problem. The government has taken over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the Federal Reserve is pumping out short-term loans of $1 trillion or more; and Congress’s $700 billion rescue allows the Treasury Department to buy subprime securities and to make direct investments in banks.

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McCain: Taking the Low Road to Win?

October 11, 2008

Here’s one view:

By Harold Ford Jr.
The Washington Post
Saturday, October 11, 2008; Page A21

Although our nation’s economic house is on fire, John McCain isn’t unveiling proposals to put out the fiscal flames. Instead, he is pursuing the presidency by taking the low road, as he and his surrogates attack Barack Obama in harsh, personal terms. It’s hard to believe this is the same man who in 2004 said of the Swift-boat attacks against John Kerry: “I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. ... 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. waves at a rally at the Genoa Park and Amphitheater in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In fact, after McCain lost the Republican nomination to George Bush in 2000, he declared that there was a “special place in hell” for the Bush operatives who had run a smear campaign against him. By adopting the same approach against Obama, McCain diminishes his reputation and raises questions about his commitment to fairness and decency.

I know that John McCain is a man of courage and character. His ability to overcome the torture he endured at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors is a tribute to his strength and to the human spirit. But as Americans yearn for a president to lead us courageously into an uncertain future, McCain appears to be abandoning his creed of putting country first.

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“I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” Senator John McCain told a supporter at a town hall meeting in Minnesota who said he was “scared” of the prospect of an Obama presidency and of who the Democrat would appoint to the Supreme Court.

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Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts after ...
Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts after a question from a supporter during a town hall meeting in Waukesha, Wisconsin October 9, 2008.(Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Bush says anxiety feeding market instability

October 10, 2008

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent
October 10, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush said Friday that the government’s financial rescue plan was aggressive enough and big enough to work, but would take time to fully kick in.

“We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal … We can solve this crisis and we will,” Bush said in brief remarks from the White House Rose Garden.
President George W. Bush speaks about the global financial and ... 

Bush spoke as leaders of the world‘s leading economies gathered in Washington amid frozen credit markets, panic selling in stock markets and a looming global recession.

The president noted that major Western economies were working together in an attempt to stabilize markets and end the spreading panic.

“Through these efforts, the world is sending an unmistakable signal. We’re in this together and we’ll come through this together,” Bush said.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven — the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France Italy and Canada — were here for a weekend meeting. Bush plans to meet with the leaders on Saturday.

Bush said he understood how Americans could be concerned about their economic future, “that anxiety can feed anxiety and that can make it hard to see all that’s being done to solve the problem.”

Many Arabs fear McCain would continue Bush policy

March 24, 2008
By Nadim Ladki

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Arabs keen to see the end of George W. Bush‘s presidency fear that a win for likely Republican candidate John McCain will bring little change to U.S. policies they blame for destabilizing the Middle East.

For Arab politicians who have gained from U.S. policy in countries including Iraq and Lebanon, continuity may be a good thing.

But Bush’s many critics in the Arab world worry that McCain will continue current U.S. policies, which they fault for unleashing chaos in Iraq and providing unflinching support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

McCain wants to keep troops in Iraq until it is more stable, setting him at odds with Democratic rivals who want to withdraw from a country which has been wracked by violence since U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein five years ago.

During a Middle East tour this month, McCain’s statements on Israel also sounded alarm bells for Arabs who have long criticized Washington for not exercising enough pressure on the Jewish state to withdraw from occupied Arab land.

“The first time McCain started to catch attention was when he visited … Israel and committed himself to recognizing Jerusalem (as its capital) and not pressuring Israel,” Mohamed al-Sayed Said of Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies told Reuters in Cairo.

“This confirms the natural inclination of Arabs to think that whatever the next administration is, it will be a tool of the Israelis.”

But while Arabs see little difference between candidates when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict — with all repeatedly committing themselves to Israel’s interests and security — Iraq is seen as a different story.


The 2003 U.S.-led invasion, which was opposed by Washington’s Arab allies including Egypt, empowered Shi’ite factions such as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council — a group with longstanding ties to Shi’ite Iran.

Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a cleric and senior member of the group, said a McCain presidency would be a good thing. “I believe it is a positive matter if the Republican candidate wins in the coming election. We know now how the Republicans think.”

“McCain is so close to the Bush administration and they both adopted the same policy.”

McCain, speaking during a visit to close U.S. ally Jordan, said that a premature withdrawal from Iraq would enhance Iran and Sunni Islamist militant group al Qaeda — both foes of America — and endanger the region.

But Mudhafer al-Aani, a senior member of the largest Sunni bloc in Iraq’s parliament, urged a correction of “the great mistakes of the administration.”

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Fire Sale of Bear Stearns Bear Sparks Rout, Bush Tries to Calm

March 17, 2008
By Jack Reerink 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A fire sale of Bear Stearns Cos Inc (BSC.N) stunned Wall Street and pummeled global financial stocks on Monday on fears that few banks are safe from deepening market turmoil.

A U.S. two dollar bill is taped to the revolving door leading ...
A U.S. two dollar bill is taped to the revolving door leading to the Bear Stearns global headquarters in New York March 17, 2008.(Kristina Cooke/Reuters)

Trying to assuage worries that the credit crisis is spinning out of control, President George W. Bush said the United States was “on top of the situation,” but the sell-off intensified in the early afternoon.

The U.S. Federal Reserve geared up for a deep cut in interest rates on Tuesday to blow money into the fragile financial system — the latest in a series of rate cuts that has brought down borrowing costs by 2-1/4 percentage points and hammered the U.S. dollar to record lows.

Staff at Bear Stearns‘ Manhattan headquarters were welcomed to work on Monday by a two-dollar bill stuck to the revolving doors — a spoof on the bargain-basement price of $2 per share that JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) is paying for the firm. A hopeful Coldwell Banker real estate agent was hawking cheap apartments to employees who saw the value of their stock options go up in smoke.

The combination of Bear Stearns’ bailout and the Fed’s offer on Sunday to extend direct lending to securities firms for the first time since the Great Depression highlighted just how hard the credit crisis has hit Wall Street.

And it scared market players worldwide….

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Fear, apathy corrode Pakistan elections

February 8, 2008
By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Worshippers were standing in silent prayer in a village mosque when a suicide bomber struck. Former Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao survived the attack, the second aimed at him in eight months, but 53 people around him died in a hail of shrapnel.

A wave of Islamic militant attacks on both senior opposition and government figures is casting a long shadow over Pakistan‘s parliamentary elections, especially in the volatile northwest, where candidates like Sherpao have been reduced to campaigning behind closed doors.

“They want….