Here are ten words recently spoken by Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, regarding use of economic sanctions:
"You do not want to sanction anyone you depend on.”
And, below are a couple of illustrations/pictures – since they are often worth a thousand words.
When in doubt, follow the money. Accordingly, the recent confrontation between Russia and the Ukraine (and the West) has a lot to do about natural gas and energy, proxies for money. And, apparently, Putin and the Russians are not known to be lenient with buyers who get too far behind in paying their bills, as was the case back in 2009 when Russia basically shut off the gas to Ukraine and much of the EU. So, one can expect some form of monetary bailout for the Ukraine so it can pay Russia for past due bills and to assuage Russia's concerns regarding trade account delinquencies.
As such, below is a chart that depicts the reliance by Ukraine and Western Europe on natural gas provided by Russia. It seems, in this instance, Russia is holding all the good cards, as they say.
Nevertheless, Russia and Western Europe (especially Germany) have been circumventing distribution routes through Ukraine and Belarus since 2009, as the illustration below depicts (circa 2009; natural gas capacity in billion cubic meters – “bcm” – for the Nord Stream, Belarus Route, and the Ukraine Route).
Coventry League embraces bicycling as a healthy, sustainable form of transportation, so reading about bicycles’ outselling new cars in practically every European country is encouraging. Small Business Labs wrote a blog today referencing the article at NPR titled In Almost Every European Country, Bikes Are Outselling New Cars.
Small Business Labs also provide some additional statistics and perspectives. For example, it mentioned that even in the U.S. bicycle outsold cars (18 million versus 14.3 million, respectively). Also, last October Coventry League highlighted the Top 20 Bicycle Friendly Cities globally (Portland was ranked #1 in the U.S. and Amsterdam in the Netherlands was the overall #1 city).
Who doesn't want to strive to be a bit more sustainable nowadays? Some of the most respectable companies that have growth and profitability as goals also factor in externalities (costs on society) and the quality of life (note, this is not synonymous with ‘standard of living’) for employees and stakeholders to achieve said growth and profits. Patagonia (an interview with the founder, Yvon Chouinard) and WL Gore (maker of Gore-Tex fabric) are just two companies that are role models for others.
On a more personal level, citizens can put in place legislators who will put forth progressive policies to help achieve better outcomes for their respective communities. I particularly like to reference the policies instituted in Copenhagen, Denmark regarding bicycling (virtually eliminated vehicle street parking; imposed meaningful taxes on purchase and ownership of cars; relatively expensive gasoline; bike tracks separated by physical barriers – not simply painted lines and sharrows; etc.). Also, individuals may choose to be the change they want to see; for examples, bike to work or to do local errands, plant a garden, eat more foods that require less resources to generate, and – well, as the infographic below illustrates – learn how to compost.
As Yogi Berra once quipped, "a nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
Below is a chart from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News depicting the purchasing power of a dollar using a Starbucks Latte. It's probably easier to find the source link from a related post by ZeroHedge titled The Starbucks Index - Coffee Price Parity (27 Feb 2013).
Proven world oil reserves, 2009
Below is a 72-month chart from GasBuddy.com illustrating the price of gasoline per gallon and the price of crude oil per barrel (WTI, albeit Brent has a greater impact on U.S. gasoline).
Nevertheless, for a brief history lesson, oil sold from OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) has been priced exclusively in U.S. dollars since 1974 when the U.S. Government (under then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger) and the royal family of Saudia Arabia (the largest oil producer in OPEC) formed an agreement/partnership in which Saudi Arabia agreed to price all of their oil sales in U.S. dollars and to then invest their surplus oil proceeds into U.S. Treasury securities. This is often referred to as petrodollars (see illustration below from an article titled "The Rise of the Petrodollar System: Dollars for Oil" at the Financial Sense blog).
For buyers of OPEC oil, they must first obtain dollars in order to buy the oil – a significant concern for developing nations and ones that have a meaningfully weaker currency. One consequence is that these nations often need to take on debt to obtain dollars and then are at the mercy of external forces (currency markets; global fractional reserve banking; etc.).
Over the years, many nations have questioned and challenged the fractional reserve banking and oil cartels, most notably Iraq and more recently Iran and China – as they apparently want a more flexible market for commodity trading (see post from August 2011 titled “Oil Being Sold in Euro and Dirham”).
1886 Bank Run: "The War of Wealth"
As Mitch states in his recent blog titled "Greece Public Finances Face Collapse...", if you have your money in Greek, Spanish, or Portuguese banks, get it out - now.
Meanwhile, Niall Ferguson, a Harvard University history professor, urges people to remember what happened to begin the second half of the Great Depression in the early 1930's: European bank runs.
Speaking of which, Wikipedia summarizes a recent list of bank runs; expect the content to be updated soon.
Flag of Hungary
Or, what comes around, goes around: Please reference "Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Maize Fields" as well as the links regarding the investigations by the SEC. The latter is likely just theater to appease the locals (U.S. citizens and farmers); the former has teeth. Nevertheless people globally have had enough of the atrocious behavior and products (pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified whatnots, carcinogens) from Monsanto and some other similar companies, and their enabling politicians. And, some international governments, fortunately, are responding accordingly.