Daily Archives: September 16, 2017

Venezuela | Venezuela Reports Oil Prices in Chinese Currency, Shunning the ‘Tyranny of the Dollar’

Following the imposition of U.S. sanctions, Venezuela has quoted its oil prices in the Chinese currency, going against the global norm.

Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, began on Friday to report its crude oil prices in the Chinese Yuan, bucking the oil market norm of pricing in the U.S dollar.

USA | The Pentagon’s New Wonder Weapons for World Dominion

by Alfred W. McCoy

This piece has been adapted and expanded from Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power. 

Not quite a century ago, on January 7, 1929, newspaper readers across America were captivated by a brand-new comic strip, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  It offered the country its first images of space-age death rays, atomic explosions, and inter-planetary travel.
“I was twenty years old,” World War I veteran Anthony “Buck” Rogers told readers in the very first strip, “surveying the lower levels of an abandoned mine near Pittsburgh… when suddenly… gas knocked me out. But I didn’t die. The peculiar gas… preserved me in suspended animation. Finally, another shifting of strata admitted fresh air and I revived.”
Staggering out of that mine, he finds himself in the 25th century surrounded by flying warriors shooting ray guns at each other. A Mongol spaceship overhead promptly spots him on its “television view plate” and fires its “disintegrator ray” at him.  He’s saved from certain death by a flying woman warrior named Wilma who explains to him how this all came to be.

How Western Capital Colonized Eastern Europe

by Leonid Bershidsky

Yet another Eastern European country is about to get a populist, anti-immigration, euroskeptic government: Billionaire Andrej Babis’s ANO party enjoys a wide poll lead ahead of the October parliamentary election in the Czech Republic. The central European country would join Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. If that sounds ominous, there is at least one bulwark against extremism in the region: Western European capital.

 Indeed, Western investment plays such an important role in economies of all these countries that nationalist politicians make their countries look more like truculent colonies than partners in a grand integration project.

In a recent paper, Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman bluntly call Eastern European nations “foreign-owned countries.”

 “The owners tend to come from EU countries (in particular from Germany),” they write. “So in some sense it is not entirely different from the situation of peripheral regions that are being owned by more prosperous central regions in a large federal country.” To Piketty and collaborators, this is a nuisance because it distorts inequality measurements: Much of a country’s wealth and income accrues to foreign shareholders who do not belong to the local top one percent, so the country looks more egalitarian than it actually is. But it also has broader implications.

Relative to their economic output, Eastern European nations have the biggest negative net investment positions in the EU, unless one counts Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain — all recipients of big bailouts during the recent financial crisis.