2ndlook

70 years later, RBI remains true to its DNA

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on January 22, 2009
An bankrupt West is a bad economic model to follow. RBI in the last 3-5 years has shown some independence in policy matters - finally. (Cartoon courtesy - bhra.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

An bankrupt West is a bad economic model to follow. RBI in the last 3-5 years has shown some independence in policy matters - finally. (Cartoon courtesy - bhra.files.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

there is a curious aspect to the Indian economic System (defined as commentators, policy makers, and academicians). The System systematically thinks in a skewed fashion, and unlike any other System in the world. In particular, it is trigger happy to bring the economy to a screeching halt by raising interest rates, but asleep at the wheel when the economy is in desperate shape — e.g. confidence at historic lows, industrial growth at zero, and exports diving over a cliff. (via Surjit Bhalla: Lazy banking at its finest).

It is not so curious Mr.Bhalla. You only have to look at the history of RBI formation and its objective. Fact is RBI has not outgrown its colonial DNA.

April Fool Joke – The RBI

On April 1st, 1934, while the ‘Squeeze India’ campaign was under execution – and being choreographed by Montagu Norman, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill and Lord Willingdon, RBI, India’s banking authority was set up. From that April Fool’s day till now, RBI character has not changed. It remains isolated, out of touch with the India – and looks at India through colonial viewing glasses.

First things, first …

RBI and the Colonial India Government initiated many reports on the ‘condition’ of the Indian economy. Based on these reports, they passed many of the laws restricting money lending activities. These reports - Central Banking Enquiry Committee (CBEC) report (1929) and its associated Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee reports (of Assam, Bombay, Burma, Ceylon, Central Provinces, Bengal, Punjab, et al) of which the Madras Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee (MPBEC) report is cited by lazy academics and out-moded bureaucratsas authoritative – even in post-colonial era.

Western economies have been hiding their economic stagnation for the last 10 years by handing out loans to voters, industry and banks. For how long can this system work? Cartoon by Michael Ramirez. Click for larger image.

Western economies have been hiding their economic stagnation for the last 10 years by handing out loans to voters, industry and banks. For how long can this system work? Cartoon by Michael Ramirez. Click for larger image.

Based on these reports co-ordinated by the RBI, Debt Conciliation Acts were passed between 1933 and 1936 by the governments of Assam, Bengal, Central Provinces and Berar, Madras and Punjab; the Punjab Regulation of Accounts Act (1930) and the Debtors Protection Acts of 1935 and other such burdensome laws buried the money lender in mountains of paperwork and licenses. These laws required money lenders to comply with extensive and prolonged compulsory licensing and registration – and extensive recording of transactions and accounts.

What these laws achieved was what was desired – a license for police and other ‘inspectors’ to start an extortion racket from money lenders (these days called corruption). A bureaucrat from colonial Punjab, Malcolm Darling (1925) shedding crocodile tears stated “the Indian peasant is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt” became a by line for tarring the money lender – while the cause was extractive, colonial revenue practices.

Options foreclosed

While the world was reeling under a crisis of the Great Depression, these restrictions on money lending foreclosed the liquidity option for the Indian peasant, which would have averted the gold outflow from India and the impoverishment of the Indian peasant. With this legalized persecution, money lenders’ activities were curtailed all over India.

RBI joined in this hounding of the money lenders – which continues to this day. The Bengal Burma link of the ages was broken. Chettiar money lenders were thrown out of Burma. From being a granary of Asia, Burma started declining – and there was no rice for exports. Result – The Bengal Famine of 1943. Tally – 40-50 lakh deaths. Similarly, the role of Chettiars in Singapore was wiped clean.

Subhash Chandra Bose's diplomatic initiatives left the British War efforts nervous and anxious. (Image sources - hindustantimes.com). Click for source image.

Subhash Chandra Bose's diplomatic initiatives left the British War efforts nervous and anxious. (Image sources - hindustantimes.com). Click for source image.

After the fall of Singapore, and the rapid Japanese advance, with Subhash Chandra Bose in the vicinity, a revolt by Bengal would have had catastrophic effect on the colonial administration. Howard Fast, in his novel ‘The Pledge’ believes that the Bengal Famine was deliberate creation – possibly to weaken the local population.

Elephants in the room

Firstly, the answer to your curiosity cannot come from the West. And since, the Indian English press (especially), depends on the West for cues, they miss out some vital elements. For instance, how the Indian economy was used to meet Britain’s Post WW1 liabilities. To ‘dampen’ gold demand for India, the Indian rupee was put on fixed overvalued rate vis-a-vis the sterling.

Indian exports crashed, imports ballooned. Indian accounts would be settled at ‘official’ silver prices, with inflated silver released by the US under the Pittman Act. Gold prices were deflated – and Indians would therefore have to pay more in gold. Thus with with a combination of inflated silver price, deflated gold price, high interest rates and an overvalued Indian rupee, the Indian economy was strangled. Few Western writers or books identify this - unwittingly, or deliberately.

RBI was a pawn in this game – and it remains true to its DNA.

India funded the post WW1 recovery

The mechanics and the development of this plan are laid out in a better book, John Bullion’s Empire by By G. Balachandran. This book traces how much of India’s poverty was a result of economic policies between the two World Wars co-ordinated by these four central bankers.

On October 27th, 1931, the Ramsey Macdonald led “National” Government (Conservatives and Liberals coalition, fearful of the rising Labour Party) in Britain won a huge majority of 554 MPs of 615. The economic crisis of September 1931 (misnamed as the Indian Currency Crisis) was a result of this economic policy which reduced Indian economic activity – resulting in bankruptcy of the Colonial India Government.

Parallel Great Depression era problems in the US, the Weimar Republic problems – and other issues pushed this ‘National’ government to ram through a series of measures (page 130-131) that inflated silver prices, depressed gold prices and raised interest rates in India. The Indian rupee was pegged at a high exchange rate vis-a-vis the sterling. Indian exports crashed. To ensure that Indian farmers had no options, Indian money lenders were regulated and licensed into paralysis. Further the Lees Mody Pact, gave few options to the Indian producers.

Indians were paid, with inflated and abundant silver stock, instead of gold. This silver was the same silver released by the Pittman Act. The silver buffer solution to the gold drain to India was seen as the “only buffer to protect Western gold reserves against the Indian drain (was) a silver buffer.” Of course, later the British Raj decided to settle Indian debts with promissory notes – and not even silver. It was this Indian ‘sacrifice’ which enabled the recovery of the West.

The yawning trench between talk and walk makes Western economiuc theory suspect.

The yawning trench between talk and walk makes Western economiuc theory suspect.

Crash in silver prices

New mines and increased silver production saw a crash in silver prices. US silver coinage was being depreciated due to increasing supplies of silver. On the other side, Britain had a large debt due to WW1. Britain and America stuck a deal at the cost of the Indian subjects of the British Raj. The US passed the Pittman Act which mandated silver sales at more than a dollar per ounce – double the 50c per ounce prevailing price of silver. Britain agreed to settle all Indian debts with silver. Gold prices were deflated. Interest rates in India were increased. Restrictions on gold imports on were placed and gold demand in India was ‘normalized.’

Impoverishment of India

With crashing exports and increased imports, the Indian citizenry had no option but to pay for all essentials and taxes with gold. As a quid pro quo, for this silver for gold scam, the US lent gold to Britain in 1926, which allowed Britain to revert back to the pre-War old standard.

Done over the protests by Gandhiji, trade bodies and merchants and threats of resignation by the Viceroy and his Executive Council , the resulting ‘money famine’ (page 155) had the Lord Willingdon ecstatically say ‘Indians are disgorging gold’ (page 156). Neville Chamberlain pitched in with his classic statement “The astonishing gold mine that we have discovered in India’s hordes has put us in clover.”

Looking back, it was clear that this achieved nothing but the impoverishment of India. In 1948, Montagu Norman had to admit that with these maneuvers “We achieved absolutely nothing, except that we collected a lot of money from a lot of poor devils and gave it to the four winds.”

The RBI was a vital element of this plan.

Ceterus paribus …

Today, in similar situation, the RBI, a colonial era body, continues with these colonial anti-Indian policies. They keep ever-greening and recycle colonial policies. Old laws with new labels and different wordings are made – with the same intent. Kill the money lender. While all this was happening, Indian agriculture and the peasant suffers.

The tragedy is that RBI is not alone. The IAS (a successor to the ICS) and the Planning Commission are the other two. Compare that with the brilliant track record of modern Indian regulators and organizations like the SEBI, TRAI.

New Global Reserve Currency – Connecting the dots – Part 2

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on October 23, 2008

ECB’s Nowotny Sees Global `Tri-Polar’ Currency System Evolving Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe and the U.S … leaders of the U.S., France and the European Commission will ask other world leaders to join in a series of summits on the global financial crisis beginning in the U.S. soon after the Nov. 4 presidential election, President George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.

European leaders have pressed to convene an emergency meeting of the world’s richest nations, known as the Group of Eight, joined by others such as India and China, to overhaul the world’s financial regulatory systems. … Sarkozy wants the G8 to consider re-anchoring their currencies, the hallmark of the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement that also gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps

The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue – and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons. Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the likely President of the US - Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices - which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals – considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.

Imagine! The EU in the middle of a global crisis goes out and restores diplomatic ties with Cuba.

The US Gameplan

US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama (or maybe McCain) to emulate Roosevelt - who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term – giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while – and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.

The US has been making its moves – differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know. The other ploy that is being bandied about is the re-launch of the fraud called the Gold Standard - now in a better packing.

The Oil-Dollar Tango

The Oil-Dollar Tango

What Has Been India Upto?

While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving. Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement – and now his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. Am I reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.

After the ministerial meeting, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister PC Chidambaram talked about how the ‘developed’ world’ was now ‘listening’ to the developing world – and was willing to ‘give more representation.’

This language itself indicates the distance that the Third World needs to travel.

China and Russia

The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate. This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers – but they cannot be the life of the party.

For financial and military reasons, the inclusion of Russia and China is useful – though not essential to the emergence of a tri-polar currency system. The cost of Russian and Chinese inclusion is high degree of influence that these ‘super powers’ will want – which the developing world will not approve.

Why supplant one form of exploitation with another?

Contours Of The Deal

The EU-USA-Asia may agree on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a multiple currency regime – an improved, better IMF.

The new 3rd currency may take some time to figure out. Not that it is difficult, expensive, or impossible. Some of Asia may want to cling to the dollar skirt. The new currency may be an Asian-Developing world currency. This may see the emergence of a tri-polar currency regime – which the US and Europe duopoly is desperate to avoid.

The 2ndlook proposal for the Third Global Reserve Currency has been in circulation for some time now.

Bretton Woods – What they wont teach or tell you …

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on October 8, 2008

Prequel to Bretton

Keynes’ first book that gained him some following in the world of economics was the ‘Indian Currency And Finance‘. This work examined in significant detail the workings of the Indian currency system. The Indian colonial currency system was anchored to the British pound – and various other local Indian currencies were in use – and even legal tender in large parts of India.

G5 will take on G8

G5 will take on G8

Thus there was always great pressure on Britain to keep the British pound on gold standard – as there was always the option for the common citizen to use coinage from other kingdoms and princely states. In 1900, the British colonial Government tried to enforce circulation of British sovereigns in India - which failed.

Of course, gold importation into India was severely restricted. The gold blockade against India was effective as the major gold production centres were under Anglo Saxon occupation (Australia, Canada, USA, South Africa, Rhodesia, Ghana, etc.).

The Birth Of Bretton Woods

As WW2 was winding down, the Anglo Saxon Bloc went ahead and devised the Bretton Woods system. This system was a copy of the Indian currency system – where instead of the British pound, the American dollar became the Index currency.

Instead of milking only India, the Anglo Saxon Bloc could now milk the whole world. Keynes noted how America when dealing ‘her dependencies, she has herself imitated almost slavishly, India.’ So, when the time came, it took very little time for the US to scale the Indian currency model on the rest of the world.

The success of Bretton Woods-I depended on blockading India from buying gold – which was effectively done by Morarji Desai. (I wonder why the ungrateful Anglo Saxon Bloc has not made a statue of Morarji Desai at Mount Rushmore). He has after all been the single biggest contributor to their prosperity for the last 50 years.

What was Bretton Woods

The world stamped their approval on Bretton Woods.

As per the agreement, all countries of the world would use the dollar as the index currency – for international trade and foreign exchange reserves and for nominal exchange rate fixation. This system allowed the USA to print ‘excess’ dollars. These ‘excess’ initially in limited quantities, but soon at an accelerating pace. Today the USA has flooded the world (and the USA markets with more than US$50 trillion) of excess currency. The housing bubble, the M&A frenzy, the credit crisis are by products of this printing of dollars. With these excess dollars, the US consumers and others bought what they wanted – and US went ahead and printed some more dollars.

Bearing the dollars cross

Bearing the dollar's cross

Behind Bretton Woods – Gold

If the Bretton Woods system was defective, unfair, weighted et al, why was it accepted? Why did the world believe that only the Anglo-Saxon Bloc could deliver.

Why?

In 1944, the Anglo Saxon Bloc (countries, colonies and companies) controlled more than 90% of gold production and reserves. The largest private gold reserve in the world, India was still a British colony. Hence, it was fait accompli.

The Cornering Of Gold Supplies

For the last 150 years, the ABC countries (America, Australia, Britain, Canada) comprising the Anglo Saxon bloc (countries, colonies and companies) have controlled 90% of the world’s gold production. Till (a large part of) India was a British Colony, they also controlled more than 50% of the above-the-ground gold reserves. This gave them absolute liberty to print depreciating currency and flood the world pieces of paper(called dollars and pounds), manipulate the world financial system and keep other populations poor and backward.

Who paid for the dollar hegemony

Who paid for the dollar hegemony

Bretton Woods – Broken Promises

The promise of the Bretton Woods system was stability. USA promised the world that they will redeem the US dollar for gold – at a rate of US$35. Anyone could (except Indians and Americans) buy an ounce of gold from the USA for US$35 – managed by the the London Pool system. Within 20 years, the first promise was broken. Redemptions of dollar for gold to individuals was stopped in 1968 (March15th).

The Bretton Woods system worked for 20 years because Indians were not allowed to buy gold. India’s finance minster during that crucial period, Morarji Desai, (allegedly on CIA payroll during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency 1963-1968), presented a record 10 budgets, between February 1958, up to 1967.

His break with Indira Gandhi began when the Finance portfolio was taken away from him. Morarji Desai’s ban on gold imports allowed the sham of Bretton Woods to continue for 20 years. His adamant attitude on gold cost the government popularity and electoral losses – and the Indian economy and Indians much more. Was it a co-incidence that many of the RBI functionaries later got (and even now) plum postings at LSE (IG Patel) and BN Aadarkar (IMF)?

The Bretton Woods Twins

Bretton Woods also gave rise to the the Bretton Woods twins (the IMF and the World Bank) which are run and managed by the Anglo Saxon countries. The ABC countries, their client states like Japan, OECD, etc. have 65% of the voting rights. With this huge voting majority, less than 5% of the world’s population (of the ABC countries) decide how 95% of the world lives.

The Bretton Woods twins (the IMF and the World Bank) been significant failures. Aid (spelt, ironically, very similarly to AIDS) projects are approved – which are tied to imports from these Anglo Saxon countries.

Bretton Woods Fraud

The Bretton Woods system was technically created by more than 700 delegates from the 44 allied nations. But the match was fixed.

It was designed by the Anglo-Saxon countries (America, Australia, Britain, Canada), for the benefit of the Anglo Saxon countries. Notice how much Britain resisted and finally did not join the European Currency Union. This system has swamped the world with accelerating inflow of dollars (American, Australian, Canadian) and British pounds. Producers and exporters are left with vast reserves of a depreciating currencies.

Nixon Chop And Bush Whack

From the Nixon Chop to the Bush Whack final months of Dubya’s Presidency, the Bush Family has been in the Presidency for 12 years of the 37 years. And in positions of lesser power for the entire period. George Bush Sr. was the US representative to the UN during the Nixon era – when Nixon made his infamous remarks to Kissinger about the ‘sanctimonious Indians’ who had pissed on us (the US) on the Vietnam War’. George Bush Sr. was also the US Vice President during the 8 years of Reagan Presidency.

The bend in the flow

The bend in the flow

During these 37 years – between the Nixon Chop (1971) and the Bush Whack (2008), the world has changed significantly.

The Nixon Chop

On August 15th, 1971, President Nixon after a two day huddle with 15 advisers at Camp David, delivered the Nixon Chop to the world. The Nixon chop (my name for this event), one month after his China breakthrough, cut the convertibility peg of US$35 to gold as US gold reserves were severely depleted.

The French had been regularly redeeming gold for their dollar earnings – and for this ‘perfidy’ the US had not forgiven France. This was much like the pre-WW2 French methodology of devaluation, new peg, old debt for new gold routine which got the US hackles up. Many decades have passed since these redemption by France, and the new French President, Sarkozy believes it is now possible to renew US-French relations again.

On the opposite side of the world, a beleaguered Indian Prime Minister was celebrating 24 years of Independence with a “ship-to-mouth” economy, dependent on PL-480 grain. Private gold reserves in the Indian economy after nearly 25 years of post-colonial rule, were steadily rising. Over the next 10 years, the western world (and most of the rest) blamed OPEC for post-1971 inflation, gold scaled US$800 an ounce; the Hunt Brothers launched their bid to corner the silver market; stagflation made an entry and Soviet power grew. Nixon Chop , itself the result of many years of gold reserves erosion, was one in many steps that brought the US$ to its knees.

Can the dollar be fixed?
Can the dollar be fixed?

On August 15th, 1971, the world got the Nixon Chop - where even Governments could not redeem dollar holdings. The dollar was put on float. In little time, dollar value depreciated from US$35 per ounce of gold to US$800 in 1980. Over the next 20 years, through various clandestine methods (check out the Edmond Safra and the Yamashita stories links), gold prices were managed and brought down to US$225 per ounce – but still 80% reduction in value of dollar value. Foreign reserves of poor countries got eroded. It was a gigantic fraud on the world – especially the poor, developing countries. And the fraud continues.

Every Few Years

Every 10-25 years, the world seems to go from one financial crisis to another. Trucks full of economic analysis follow each crisis – and everyone agrees after each meltdown, that there will not be another catastrophe. What the poor (and not so poor) economists don’t see is that the Anglo Saxon bloc with 80% of the world’s gold production in a choke-hold does what it wants.

On December 31st, 1974, nearly forty years after Roosevelt nationalized private American gold stocks, Americans were allowed to invest in gold again. Again Indian liberalization (1991) of gold imports happened a good 17 years after the US laws (1974) were liberalized. I wonder, how that was tied.

And that is what has happened for the last 60 years. Of course, all good (for the Anglo-Saxon Bloc) things come to an end. And so has Bretton Woods – I & II.

China And India – 2 Books, Two Views, Take a 2ndlook

Posted in Current Affairs, Indo Pak Relations, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on September 29, 2008

The India China Relationship

To most in India, China is possibly the biggest defence threat and is a ‘feared’ competitor.

However, the 2ndlook blog has discounted the ‘threat of the Chinese dragon’ based on an active engagement with China – and not benign neglect.

No less than Arun Shourie has weighed in on the ‘Chinese threat’ side of perception. This puts the 2ndlook blog in a minority. In the 2ndlook blog dated May 31st 2008, there was a significant analysis of the China-India face off. More on that later.

Two Books – Opposite Themes

In the meantime, Arun Shourie’s book has evoked scant interest – excerpted below.

… important parallels, as Shourie points out, between the situation pre-1962 and the situation now. Border talks are regressing, Chinese claims on Indian territories are becoming publicly assertive, Chinese cross-border incursions are rising, and India’s China policy is becoming feckless … India has always been on the defensive against a country that first moved its frontiers hundreds of miles south by annexing Tibet, then furtively nibbled at Indian territories before waging open war, and now lays claims to additional Indian territories. By contrast, on neuralgic subjects like Tibet, Beijing’s public language still matches the crudeness and callousness with which it sought in 1962, in Premier Zhou Enlai’s words, to “teach India a lesson”. (Stagecraft and Statecraft: Lessons for today’s India from the 1962 Chinese invasion).

The lack of coverage in Indian media for an important book like this is a matter of concern. At the same time, another book on a similar subject, from an American perspective is vastly different – and closer to the views of the 2ndlook blog.

This one, … (by) Ms Shirk (former deputy assistant secretary of state who dealt with China) … should become a must read for every Indian who cowers and cringes at the very mention of China. For, as Shirk shows, there is no reason to do so. The core of her message is that only one thing has changed over the last two decades: instead of being a paper tiger, China has become a cardboard tiger.

… recall how China responded to the Tibetan uprising just before the Olympics to get a sense of its vulnerabilities and the resultant paranoia. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi was surrounded by three rings of defence against attacks by Tibetan women. You don’t become a super power merely because you have some money and some guns.

the Chinese leadership no longer has to fear the foreign devil who speaks English; it has to fear the average Chinaman who does so. She also shows how there is no shortage in the variety of unrests in China: you name a type of discontent, and it is there. But unlike India, China has not had the sense to develop political outlets for the head of steam that is building up. The only way it knows of dealing with mass discontent is repression.

Shirk also deals with the aspect that the Chinese leadership is most anxious to hide: a split not in the ranks of the party, but in the highest echelons of the leadership. And the second- and third-level Chinese leadership knows this. The drive against corruption, for example, when mayors are hanged, is seen as just a tea leaf, a straw in the wind that the big boys are pulling in opposite directions.

contrary to popular belief, especially in India, China can’t get along with anyone. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India all have difficulties with a neighbour whose word can’t be trusted and who tends to rely more on strong-arm tactics than diplomacy. This, too, seems to be a part of the Communist party repertoire, merely their way.

As we see in this book, when push comes to shove, China always backs down. Its leaders simply don’t have the stomach for a confrontation because they don’t know how it will turn out for them personally. That’s the key thing: the personal interests of the Chinese communist leaders. It now always comes before the country’s interests, or is at least seen as being coterminous with it. (Book Review of FRAGILE SUPERPOWER by Susan L Shirk).

The Chinese Paper Dragon

The Chinese success is similar story. Much like USSR’s break-up, the Chinese monolith is more fragile than apparent. Apart from the usual suspects of democracy, economic disparities, social upheavals, etc, there are 3 factors, which most Chinese analysts miss.

One, the Tibetan’s are held together by force – and no one imagines that this holding them together by force, can be in perpetuity. The Muslim provinces of Xinjiang (another one-third of China) is usually ignored. These issues are usually minimized by the current strength with which China holds these provinces together.

But possibly, the biggest issue is the share of revenues of the Chinese central governments.

Secondly, the Chinese Central Government commands less than 25% of the total tax revenues - and the 75% goes to provinces. This, possibly is why the Chinese Government cannot reduce cigarette usage in China. Most expenditures on health, education, pension, unemployment, housing etc. are borne by the local government – and hence there is patchwork of systems which run across China. Most of executions and imprisonments of bureaucrats (including the Mao’s Cultural Revolution) is to demonstrate central authority. The PLA is the only factor that keeps China together. A Chinese Lech Walesa or a Nelson Mandela could unwind China very quickly.

Significantly, and thirdly, the Chinese diaspora and Western MNCs are biggest investors in China – and also the main beneficiaries. This currently keeps resentments of the local Chinese under control – as the neighbour is not getting much richer. But at one stage the domestic Chinese will want to greater say and control over the Chinese economy. He may not be happy with just a well paying job and abundant, low quality goods.

India vs China

On these three counts India scores significantly better than China. India’s problems with Kashmir are a British legacy, an external creation – as is the North East problem, to a degree. India’s significant issue (probably temporary) is the Naxalite problem. India’s central Government has greater control and share over total revenues – than the Chinese. India’s recent economic and political successes are entirely home bred – with the exception of remittances from the expat workers in the Middle East.

2ndlook blog proposes a different way out of this India-China stalemate.

The Detritus

As various colonial powers were forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. And it is the stereotypes and images of each other that seem to be determining the relationships between the two countries.

India

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

We Hereby Resolve

Let us (India and China) decide that for the next 60 years, these legacy border issues will remain in cold storage! There are far more pressing issues that need our attention. Let us focus on those issues. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Nixon Chop And Bush Whack

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Indo Pak Relations by Anuraag Sanghi on September 24, 2008
The Bush Era Balanced Score Card

The Bush Era Balanced Score Card

The Dollar-Oil Tango

From the Nixon Chop to the Bush Whack, in the final months of Dubya’s Presidency, the Bush Family has been in the Presidency for 12 years of the 37 years. And in positions of lesser power for the entire period. George Bush Sr. was the US representative to the UN during the Nixon era – when Nixon made his infamous remarks to Kissinger about the ‘sanctimonious Indians’ who had pissed on us (the US) on the Vietnam War’. George Bush Sr. was also with the CIA and the US Vice President during the 8 years of Reagan Presidency.

During these 37 years – between the Nixon Chop (1971) and the Bush Whack (2008), the world has changed significantly.

Every Few Years

Every 10-25 years, the world seems to go from one financial crisis to another. Trucks full of economic analysis follow each crisis – and everyone agrees after each meltdown, that there will not be another catastrophe. What the poor (and not so poor) economists don’t see is that the Anglo Saxon bloc with 80% of the world’s gold production in a choke-hold does what it wants. And the second element – they also control and influence 80% of the Oil production.

Why has this system been such a failure? Simple!

Oil & Dollars

After the Nixon Chop, the OPEC went into a huddle. After all they were selling a limited resource against payment through pieces of paper. After the Nixon Chop, the chain of events, post 1970 developments were as follows: -

The international monetary developments as of 15 August 1971 prompted OPEC, in its meeting in Beirut on 22 September 1971, to call for negotiations with the oil companies holding concessions in member countries. By 14 January 1972 there was no progress in negotiations. OPEC, in spite of a total loss of more than 11.5%, was asking for a hike of only 8.57% –- which was the loss in value of the US dollar relative to gold. In fact, what OPEC was asking for was very close to what the International Maritime Conference had, at the time, announced: a minimum increase in the dollar freight rates of 8.6%. Finally, an agreement was reached in Geneva on 20 January 1972 that provided an immediate increase in the posted prices by 8.49%. The settlement also included provisions for further adjustments until 1975 based on an index that reflected changes in the dollar and other key currencies.

Concurrently, on October 17th 1973, OAPEC members (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced embargo against shipping oil to all countries supporting Israel in the the ongoing Yom Kippur War against Syria, Egypt and Iraq – i.e. the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. Non Arab OPEC members decided to leverage their power to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the Oil Companies (then popularly called “Seven Sisters”).

The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency. Europe tied with Russia for the trans-Europe gas pipeline. North Sea Oil production was ramped up. Norway and other countries also increased their output. Thus while not fully dependent on the OPEC, this served an important purpose – to demonstrate that the West and OPEC were on opposite sides, whereas the truth was opposite.

OPEC and West – Partners In Loot

Actually, the West saw a transfer of wealth, all over again from the Third World, via the OPEC Petro Dollars. The dollar regime was significantly beneficial to the Western World in general – and US in particular. The Oil dollar linkage allowed the US to create global reserves with other countries of US$6 trillion in just foreign exchange reserves. Other debt and trade add upto another US$14 trillion.

Approx US$20 trillion is the amount of dollars that the OPEC has managed to transfer from the Third World to the West. But the unhappy outcome of the Oil Crisis of the ’73 (for the West) was the riches and power of the Arab countries. What followed was a rising crescendo of Islamic Demonization for the last 37 years.

Oil output is currently over-valued as Western producers and OPEC jointly rig up prices. The Rest of the world pays (recently its is largely India and China) – and pays in dollars which again benefits the West.

The West limits its own output to keep up the prices. OPEC has the advantage of high oil prices. The petro dollars are reinvested back in the West. Finally, OPEC gained – and so did the West.

Who paid!

Mostly poor Indians and Chinese. And even poorer Africans.

Bush Whacked

Bush Whacked

War, Oil , Dollars & The Middle East

The justifications for invading Iraq given by the USA, were finally found to be false. The invasion was finally not related to 9/11. Iraq did not have any WMDs either. So, what was were the reasons for Iraqi invasion?

A ring side observer, former Indian Ambassador to Iraq, Ranjit Singh Kalha’s book, ‘The Ultimate Prize’ makes some interesting observations on the genesis of the Iraq invasion.

“The first mistake Saddam made was when he decided in October 2000 to move away from using US dollars as the currency for oil exports, …under the UN ‘oil-for-food’ programme.” Saddam also converted Iraq’s USD 10 billion reserve fund from US dollars to Euros. “Although this act of Saddam was not of very great economic significance in overall terms, it represented for the United States a direct challenge to the use of the dollar as a currency for transactions,” … in his just-released book, “The Ultimate Prize”. Iran followed Saddam’s move and Venezuela started initiating barter deals outside the dollar system. “If most other Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) followed the Iraqi and Iranian example, the stability of the US dollar would be at stake,” Kalha, who was posted in Baghdad during the tumultuous 1992-94 period, says.

Sidelined to the (Indian) National Human Rights Commission, Kalha’s book was also buried under a mound of silence, not reviewed and made no impression in the popular media. One press release by PTI was recycled by The Economic Times, Outlook, Sahara Samay, The Hindu, India Today, and NDTV. Google and Live Search hardly turned up anything. Yahoo.co.in showed some these links.

Bush Whacking Iraq

Bush Whacking Iraq

Iran and Venezuela followed Iraq and also moved away from designating oil sales in US dollars. After the Bretton Woods-I collapse, instead of gold, it was oil that anchored the US currency. West Asian Oil producers agreed to denominate oil in dollars after the Nixon Chop – and in turn there was no real resistance by the West to OPEC oil cartel increase oil prices by a factor of 10.

Western Oil companies also acted in concert with OPEC by limiting their own oil production. From around 4 dollars a barrel to US$40. The West was relatively unscathed – as these petro-dollars were re-invested back in the West. Europe managed to insulate itself with the North Sea Oil (Britain, Norway were the main producers along with Germany and Denmark. Europe also concluded a deal with Russia for a pipeline into Europe. North Sea Oil Production peaked in 1999-2000 with a 6 million barrels per day.

India was also not highly impacted as Bombay High started production in 1974. It was the rest of the Third World which paid this bill.

Bretton Woods – I & II

As Ron Paul noted,

“The agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in dollars has provided tremendous artificial strength to the dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. This has created a universal demand for the dollar, and soaks up the huge number of new dollars generated each year.”

The Bretton Woods-I system worked for from 1945-1971 (26 years) years because Indians were not allowed to buy gold. India’s finance minster during that crucial period, Morarji Desai, (allegedly on CIA payroll during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency 1963-1968), presented a record 10 budgets, between February 1958, up to 1967.

Bretton Woods-II, based on oil-dollar anchor, worked for another 35 years (1973-2008) till now. Oil exploration is a 5-10 year investment. Oil should be made another commodity. An easy option is to create a Republic of Pacific Islands – Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, and other West Indies. These islands can become vast oil production centres – that will help them raise their economies and can feed Asia with oil, peacefully.

The third currency bloc is essential – and it can happen only if India and South Africa decide to make it happen.

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