Monday, December 31, 2007

Jasper National Park Centennial

When I was in Jasper this past weekend I learned that the National Park was 100 years old this year. It is still a jewel in the Rockies. In comparison to Banff which is the West Edmonton Mall of National Parks, this is a quiet, quaint, rustic little town, which you can walk through in thirty minutes at a quick gait. There were banners up in town announcing the centennial, but little else to note the event. No special T-Shirts, mugs, or other tourist bric a brak one usually finds. Very underplayed, unfortunately.

I have always liked Jasper since camping there in my younger years. Not much has changed in Jasper , unlike the commercialized corporate 'tourist' town of Banff. And even their centennial was muted and not given much publicity. A shame really, because Jasper in many ways reminds me of what Whyte Avenue used to be, before the boom in bars and trendy yuppification.

The tourists are from all over, Korea, Japan, though not as many as in Banff, Russia, Austria, Germany, Australia, etc. etc. Staff this year in the motels seemed to be a mix of Canadians and Australians, with fewer Quebecois this season. I don't often go in the summer, I prefer the early part of December when the rates are cheap and Ski season has not yet kicked in. Even at Xmas we got a great rate for two of us and two dogs. Three days for three hundred bucks.

Worrying though was the lack of snow. The Eastern face of the Pallisades was bare. And the Western face was a brown snow, spattered across gray rock face.
The rivers were barely frozen in spots, and the snow was a dirty brown across the fields and road ways.

Elk and caribou along with big horn were lowling about grazing the still plentiful standing dead grasses.

The signs warning of fire dangers from last summer were not changed, portending perhaps another bad fire season as climate change impacts even the Rockies.

The first recorded visit to the Athabasca Valley was by surveyor David Thompson in 1810. The North West Company built a supply depot on Brule Lake in 1813, a settlement which later became known as Jasper House after North West Company clerk Jasper Hawes. With the decline of the fur trade, Jasper House was abandoned in 1884. The Dominion Government established Jasper Forest Park in 1907, setting aside an area of some 13,000 sq km. By 1911 the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway had reached Fitzhugh (now Jasper) Station. The Jasper-Edmonton road opened in 1928. In 1930, Jasper Forest Park was officially established as a Jasper National Park. Today more than 3 million visitors pass through the park gates each year, and more than 1.8 million stop to experience this unique wilderness and World Heritage Site.



Location

Jasper is located in Jasper National Park near the British Columbia/Alberta border, 863 km from Vancouver, British Columbia and 414 km from Calgary, Alberta.


http://www.rockyworldtours.com/home/images/site71_000.JPG


SEE:

Return Of The Work Camps II

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2008 Year Of Constitutional Change

Harper likes to talk out of both sides of his mouth. Especially when it comes to the Quebec Nation.

Stephen Harper apparently has been telling the Quebec media (in La Presse specifically) the following:

“Stephen Harper souhaite que la résolution qui reconnaît les Québécois comme une nation soit incluse dans la Constitution canadienne”

Translation: Stephen Harper hopes that the resolution recognizing the “Québécois” as a nation can be included in the Canadian Constitution!
Not only does he want to REFORM the Senate but now he wants to include Quebec as a Nation in the Constitution. Talk about pandering. The reality is that if he wants to reform the Constitution so do we all. Many of us want a new parliamentary system with proportional representation and the elimination of the Senate.

Which should be done as was originally proposed by Louis-Joseph Papineau back in 1867, through a Constituent Assembly of Canadians, not by Parliament or Legislatures.

This is Harpers cynical ploy to win votes in Quebec nothing less nothing more. Like his predecessor Brian Mulroney, Harper is treading a dangerous path, that will earn him the same boot in the butt as BM got. Which ironically was a boot with the name Reform Party of Canada on it.



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Harper Recycles


Stephen Harper, taking a page from Ralph Klein, is recycling old promises and announcements. Guess that's what he considers being Green.

PM kicks off final GST cut at electronics store

Mr. Harper wound up 2007 by holding a news conference at a Mississauga store on Monday to trumpet tax cuts his government has made and which take effect at midnight.

As the year turns, the GST will drop to 5 per cent, something that Harper's government announced months ago.

Mr. Harper said Canadians should not expect further tax cuts in 2008, adding that his government will be cautious on tax relief or new spending.

Even this is not as big a tax break as the corporations are getting thanks to Harpers generosity with our tax money. And what you save in GST you pay back in payroll taxes.

Starting Jan. 1, Canada's corporate tax rate will be trimmed to 19.5 per cent from the current 22.12 per cent. This rate is slated to come down each subsequent year until it is reduced to 15 per cent on Jan. 1, 2012.

As well, the tax rate on small businesses with incomes under $400,000 drops to 11 per cent from the scheduled 11.5 per cent rate.

Of course, what the government giveth, it often takes away and Ottawa has also brought in a slight increase in so-called payroll taxes.

The taxpayers federation estimates that employees will pay an additional $50.43 in 2008 on employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, while employers will pay $46.02 more per worker.

And it is the payroll taxes, EI specifically that creates the record Government Surpluses whether that government is Liberal or Conservative.

And note that workers still pay more than employers. Time to abolish taxes on the working class!

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Gone But Not Forgotten

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Gone is Andrew Anderson's THE CANADIAN BLOG EXCHANGE one of the best aggregators of political blogs left and right in Canada. For about a month it was being petulant about uploading stories, now it is gone off line for good. Andrew was looking for someone to take over the page for months now. Though it was announced a new site had been found the CBE is gone. Too bad. It was a good way to see political bloggers of all stripes, including the independents who belong to groups.

Here is what is left of links to CBE

The Canadian Blog Exchange on Technorati

Tailrank - Posts for 'The Canadian Blog Exchange'

And here is the Google Cache for Andrew's Bound By Gravity.

For those interested in a non partisan replacement aggregator check out;

Opinions Canada



SEE:

Canadian Blog Exchange Kaput?


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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pakistan: Feudalism Not Democracy

While the pseudo democrats of the Bush and Harper regimes bemoan the passing of Benazir Bhutto let us not forget that she, her family and their political party do not reflect a movement of democracy but rather the entrenched feudal interests of Pakistan's ruling classes.

To one side of the villa is the town of Nau Dero itself; to the other, the family's expansive estates, mirroring the separation between Pakistan's political elite and the country's teeming millions. Today, under the portraits of her hanged father and dead brothers, her testament will be read by Bilawal, her grieving 19-year-old son.

The family's franchise on political leadership will be handed on. The will's contents will determine the future not simply of her party, the Pakistan People's Party, but of Pakistan. But whether it contains enough to stop the violence is, perhaps, out of the Bhutto family's hands as the nation teeters on the edge of perhaps the worst bloodletting since Partition in 1947.

TIME reports that Benazir Bhutto’s son will likely be named on Sunday as new Pakistan People’s Party leader


As Georg Luckas points out in History and Class Consciousness, his seminal ultra left text which should be mandatory reading for all who claim a revolutionary class struggle perspective , this is the political reification of feudalism, that the poor and oppressed identify not with their class interests but with the landlord class.


It is difficult to imagine any good coming out of this tragedy, but there is one possibility. Pakistan desperately needs a political party that can speak for the social needs of a bulk of the people. The People's party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was built by the activists of the only popular mass movement the country has known: students, peasants and workers who fought for three months in 1968-69 to topple the country's first military dictator. They saw it as their party, and that feeling persists in some parts of the country to this day, despite everything.


In effect there has been no bourgeois revolution in Pakistan that would allow it to evolve a modern capitalist democratic state. The creation of modern Pakistan sixty years ago was a still born
bourgeois state.

The coming civil war is the failure of the bourgeois class struggle in Pakistan, to create the conditions for a modern capitalist state. Class War Not Civil War!

See:

Pakistan A Fascist State


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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan A Fascist State

I am still in Jasper on vacation. Yesterday I saw this headline which I had to comment on;

Iran behind flood of weapons to Taliban, MacKay charges


Showing once again the quisling toadying the Harpocrite government engages in by parroting the U.S. political line. I said to my partner what a load of crap, the real threat is Pakistan, not Iran when it comes to succor and aid to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden Inc.

Sure enough even the Afghanistan government agrees;
No proof Iranian gov't behind IEDs: Afghan diplomat


This morning the headlines are that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in Pakistan. CTV News Net has had Eric Margolis on commenting on it pointing out she was more of a threat to the
Musharraf regime than to the Islamist opposition.

Pakistan is not a democracy but a fascist state, one that engages in supporting both clandestine and state terror and has nuclear weapons, unlike Iran. Blame will be placed upon the Islamic opposition and the Taliban, but the reality is that like the earlier attack on Bhutto it is more than likely an act by the State Security Intelligence Service, an agency that has promoted terrorist acts against Afghanistan, Baluchistan and India.

The political assassination of Bhutto is further proof that Pakistan is a rogue nation, far more dangerous than Iran could ever be. But since it is a client state of the U.S. it will be protected from criticism, boycotts, etc. And of course it will not be on MacKay's agenda for criticism like Iran , nor will it be boycotted by the Harpocrites as they have done with the Hamas led Palestinian state.


With Bhutto's death the Terror State of
Pakistan under Musharraf is exposed for what it is; a Bonapartist regime that is now a fascist state. Far more dangerous to its neighbours than Iran can ever be. Assassination of one's political opponents, the setting up of a Reichstag Fire last summer with the raid on the Red Temple all these are the politics of fascism. And of course the war on terror is exactly what fascists used to justify their authoritarian regimes in the past.


SEE

Musharraf's Coup

The Economist Agrees With Me

Afghanistan A Failed State

Pakistan Speaks For the Taliban

I Was An IslamoFascist For MI6

Harpers Silence Over Musharraf

Winning Friends

How To Create Terrorists

Say It Ain't So

Brief Cases vs Batons


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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas, Happy Yule

The First Christmas Card

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In the early 19th century it was common practice to hand write seasonal messages on calling cards or in letters. In 1843, in order to save himself having to hand-write dozens of Christmas messages, Sir Henry Cole had his friend, John Calcott Horsley, design and print a batch of cards. The words printed on the card were 'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' much the same is still found in cards today.


As Habermas points out in his seminal work on the Public Sphere, the post office and communications are key to not only the development of capitalism but also the concept of public space that is public communications arising out of private communications. This post card reflects the reality making public what had been a private matter, that is letter writing. The result would then be a whole communications industry devoted to greeting cards, which then created the conditions for public holidays and the resulting mass consumer society of department stores and mass advertising.

Donalda and I are taking our dogs; Trooper and Tami, off for a jaunt in the mountains for Xmas. So I won't be blogging for several days.

We are going to Jasper. Like Banff a national park created by slave labour, after WWI, using Ukrainian Internees. I will raise a glass in their memory.

Have a great Yule all. Drink a cup o' cheer to keep away the winter cold.

Here are links to my previous articles for this season.

Fiat Lux


Bad Headline


Virgin Birth Announced


WWI Xmas Mutiny

Christmas In the Trenches


Merry Christmas Red Baron

Merry Christmas


Cat Carol


Santa's Sweat Shop

Tannebaum

Rebel Jesus


Chavez Puts Christ In Christmas


Merry Christmashkah


Keeping the 'X' in X-Mas

Chuck Jones Explains It All


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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ezra's Petard

Well it looks like the defunct Western Standard, which is now only a blog online, has been hoisted by its own petard.

Western Standard's apology averts Islamic protest
Canada.com -
CALGARY -- A protest planned for Friday afternoon in Calgary to condemn alleged violent and racist postings has been cancelled after an apology from the Western Standard magazine.
Islamic group drops complaints against local mag Canoe.ca
Magazine apologizes for 'hateful' blog comments CBC.ca


The problem is that former publisher and now guest commentator Ezra Levant's Anti-Muslim rants encourage intolerance and hate speech as being so called freedom of speech in opposition to political correctness.

He no longer is publisher of the Western Standard, he no longer has a column with the Calgary Sun. But he seems to have gotten a job as commentator on Mike Duffy. Guess CTV is trying to keep up with CBC.

Ezra is a provocateur and nothing else. He comments to inflame. And then his followers use his excess's to justify their ignorant racist outbursts. Ezra is the problem, as much as those who comment on his rants.


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Justifying the Inquistion

Came across this stunning bit of logic from those nice folks who believe that abortion is worse than well worse than burning folks at the stake. No really I kid you not. Imagine if they get the chance to return society to their medieval values.

If you think that the Inquisition was evil or misguided, just consider the state of those countries today where the Inquisitions were the most active – Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Nearly everyone in those countries is Catholic, and consequently, all three of those nations have the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

Over the course of six hundred years, the Catholic Inquisitions sent between forty to sixty thousand individuals to the scaffold to be burned by the secular authorities. This is less than half the number of abortions done in the United States every month.

Let's not forget who these folks were that the Catholics burned at the stake.

In the beginning, the Inquisition dealt only with Christian heretics and did not interfere with the affairs of Jews. However, disputes about Maimonides’ books (which addressed the synthesis of Judaism and other cultures) provided a pretext for harassing Jews and, in 1242, the Inquisition condemned the Talmud and burned thousands of volumes. In 1288, the first mass burning of Jews on the stake took place in France.

It is not known when burning was first used in Britain, but there is a recorded burning for heresy in 1222, when a deacon of the church was burnt at Oxford for embracing the Jewish faith so he could marry a Jew.
Book burning and burning folks at the stake just a step to the right of banning books.

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SEE:

Unsafe Abortions Continue

Abortion Is Not A Sin

Pro Life?

Antinominalist Anarchism

The War Against Women

Jacques DeMolay Thou Art Avenged

Secular Society Demands Pope Apologize

Pope Benedict Deus Cannus Est

Bring Back Slavery

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Catholic Values

Catholic board bans 'Golden Compass' indefinitely

I guess we are lucky not to live under a Catholic Theocracy like feudal Europe did. Or else poor Phillip Pullman and his books would not just have been just banned by a Catholic school board. His books would have been used for kindling as the Church committed him to an auto da fey which was their punishment for the crime of heresy.

http://www.mimenta.com/Images/Extra%20Graphics/VA07/Burning%20at%20the%20stake.jpg

Now aren't you glad you live in a secular pluralist society which allows you the Freedom to Read unless of course you go to a taxpayer funded Catholic School.
Ironically the Catholic Church and its school boards are proving Pullman correct when he asserts the Church and organized religion is a threat to humanist enlightenment values.

Since they accept public funding while rejecting secular and public values in favour of their private morality it is time to tax the churches. Make em pay for their crimes against secular society and its enlightened values that they oppose.



SEE

An Open Mind

Nitwits

More Silly Censorship


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Person of the Year

Time wimped out and made Putin their Person Of The Year. All the right wing media in the U.S. is whining that it should have been Petraeus. But good old Bill O'Riley on Fox last night let the cat out of the bag. The real reason for Time's choice was that they made a choice of the lesser of two evils the real POTY should have been; Al Gore. But that would have driven the American rightwhingnuts even battier.

And Time's Canadian 'Person of the Year' was not a person but a coin; the Loonie. And again that was the lesser of two evils because their real POTY should have been Dion. After all they gave it to Harper last year. And because it has been annus horribulus for the Liberal Leader in Waiting, he should have made Times cover. After all the Liberals adopted a bird as their symbol this year.



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Harpers Other War



This is Harpers other war, though it shares something in common with his War in Afghanistan. The war on drugs. Well actually the war on Pot. The new anti-drug law Bill C-26 was announced the same week Karlheinz Schrieber was making headlines, so quietly the Harpocrites slipped their crime bill into parliament complete with mandatory sentences for marijuana growing and possession. And the media as well as the Liberal Opposition ignored this new draconian legislation.

While New Democratic Party (NDP) drug policy critic MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East) has already denounced the measure, neither the Liberals nor the Bloc Québecois have issued statements on it. Nor had either party responded to Chronicle requests for comment by press time.

Burnaby MPs say they will vote against the bill.

Bill Siksay, NDP MP for Burnaby Douglas, says similar laws have already failed in the U.S.

"They fill up the prisons, they disrupt families, but they don't solve the problem," Siksay said in an interview Thursday.

"We've given fare to many people's criminal records for marijuana use, and we've clogged the courts for way too long."

Instead, the government should decriminalize marijuana, Siksay said.

"We need to upset the apple cart when it comes to drug policy, he added.

Peter Juilan, NDP MP for Burnaby New Westminster, agreed, saying the federal government should spend more money on front line policing.

"The bill is the wrong approach to take," he added.


It's Harpers other war. And it is a dangerous one. For it would return us to convicting recreational drug users for victimless crime. And in creating harsh minimum sentences it attempts to duplicate the creation of a prison industry in Canada like that in the U.S.


With an eye on past complaints from the U.S. that Canadian chemical drugs and the country’s booming illegal marijuana industry are threats to America, the bill imposes a two-year minimum for possession of more than one kilogram of a schedule I drug for the purpose of export trafficking. Possession of cannabis and marijuana for the purpose of exporting – with no aggravating factors or minimum amount – would carry an automatic one-year minimum.

But, despite the political drumbeats about drugs and the image of public hysteria, Ertel says the legislation goes too far, too severely.
A conviction for producing from one to 200 marijuana plants for the purpose of trafficking carries a minimum jail sentence of six months. The scale rises to a two-year automatic sentence for the production of more than 500 plants. The maximum penalty for production of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking jumps to 14 years from seven.

“This is obviously crazy stuff,” says Ertel. “They’ve got a minority government and they’re playing cheap politics and the idea of the cheap politics is ‘go ahead and vote against us on this crazy bill and then we’re going to say you guys love drugs.’”

He argues the automatic jail time — no allowance for mitigating considerations — will inevitably prompt the kind of appeal that led to a 1987 Supreme Court of Canada decision striking down a seven-year mandatory-minimum sentence under the Narcotic Control Act as cruel and unusual punishment.

In R. v. Smith, the case of a B.C. man who pleaded guilty to importing seven and a half ounces of cocaine from Bolivia, Justice Antonio Lamer wrote, “The serious hard drugs dealer who is convicted of importing a large quantity of heroin and the tourist convicted of bringing a ‘joint’ back into the country are treated on the same footing and must both be sentenced to at least seven years in the penitentiary.”

Justice Lamer, though, included this obiter: “A minimum mandatory term of imprisonment is obviously not in and of itself cruel and unusual punishment.”
Ertel says the new Conservative bill may not only violate s. 12 of the Charter in certain circumstances, but it also targets the wrong problem, with the wrong weapon.

“Nobody’s putting anybody who’s making liquor into jail, and almost all violent crime, it’s above 90 per cent, is alcohol related,” he says. “I’ve never seen a case where somebody beat up their wife after they smoke a joint; it doesn’t happen.”

A Statistics Canada Juristat report shows drug trafficking accounted for four per cent of all cases in Canadian adult criminal courts in 2004, compared to 11 per cent for impaired driving. Common assault accounted for another 11 per cent, theft cases were nine per cent and major assault accounted for six per cent. Homicide, including attempted murder, accounted for 0.2 per cent of the cases.

Ertel says the mandatory minimums will mean more and longer drug trials because it will be impossible to bargain pleas: “The courts grind to a halt when there’s no incentive for pleading guilty.”

NDP MP Joe Comartin, a former criminal lawyer in Windsor, offers another twist. He says prosecutors will stay drug charges in an attempt to ration court time.
“They just can’t prosecute, they’ve run out of resources,” says Comartin. “They’ve got 100 more files behind them.”

SEE:

Contact High

Canada Goes To Pot

Canada's Prison Industrial Complex

Narco Politics

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Bernier Blows It

The MSM is all gushy over the fact that both U.S. President Bush and Condoleezza Rice mentioned Canada when talking about Afghanistan. I guess this is the big difference between the Conservative Government and the previous Liberal one. When the Liberals were in power Bush forgot to mention Canada. Wow what a victory for the Stephen Harper Party they got the U.S. to 'mention' Canada.

Bernier, Rice to discuss Afghanistan, border issues
Canada.com, Canada - 15 hours ago
Canada's deployment in Afghanistan is expected to be high the agenda at a meeting in Washington on Thursday between Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier and US ...
'Finish The Job,' Rice Says National Post
Canada praised by Bush for role in Afghanistan; seeks more US ... The Canadian Press
Rice praises Canada's role in Afghanistan CTV.ca

What Foreign Affairs Minister Bernier did not get was freedom for Canadian Citizen and teen ager; Omar Khadr still languishing in Gitmo, while the Brits have gotten their citizens released into British custody.

Ex-Gitmo detainee released on bail

Three Gitmo detainees return to Britain


Nor did he mention Mehar Arar let alone get him off the the U.S. terrorist list.


So as a foreign affairs mission it was a bust. It was simply cheer leading for Harpers War.



SEE:

Khadr -Canada's Shame

Cry Justice

Contradictions of the Security State


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Fiat Lux


Let There Be Light

The winter solstice — what many refer to as the shortest day of the year — arrives on Friday at 11:08 p.m. Of course, the day still has the same amount of time but the amount of daylight is at its least. Sunrise on the solstice is at 8:10 a.m. and the sun sets at 4:36

It is the longest night of the year but it has been celebrated by humans since the beginning as the rebirth of the sun. It fills this season with that most ancient human aspiration; hope.

SEE

Happy Solstice

Tannenbaum

Keeping the 'X' in X-MAS

The Monument Builders

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Humpback Victory

Japan halts humpback whale hunt
CNN International -
TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japan has "temporarily halted" its much-criticized plan for a humpback whale hunt in the seas near Antarctica, said the chief Japanese government spokesman on Friday.
Japan removes humpback whales from Antarctic hunt Reuters UK
Whaling: The Japanese positionBBC News



Now lets end Japanese whale hunting period.


Stop Japan's Whale Hunt



Japan's Scientific Whaling Hoax


Japan's Whaling Outrage


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lenin Was Right


"When we go to hang the last aristocrat it will be the capitalist that sells us the rope." Lenin.

As American Capitalism fails it will be Chinese State Capitalism that bails it out.

Kill the competition: China bails out Morgan Stanley,

The Times: Morgan Stanley reported the first quarterly loss in its 73-year history after taking writedowns of $9.4 billion (£4.7 billion) on mortgage-related investments. The bank was forced to agree a $5 billion cash injection from Beijing.


The reason is that they are sitting on trillions in Foreign Direct Investment funds that they have not expended yet. Allowing them to be able to come in and bail out their capitalist competitors.

Dr. Kathryn Dominguez of the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy presented her paper on this topic at the U of A School of Business annual Eldon Foote Lecture in October which I attended.

I recommend reading her paper as it will explain why China's investment in Morgan Stanley is not unexpected, and in fact is the beginning of their bail out of big banks and financial corporation which are suffering as the credit crunch expands from the subprime meltdown.

International Reserves and Underdeveloped Capital Markets

International reserve accumulation by developing countries is just one example of the puzzling behavior of international capital flows. Capital should flow to where its return is highest, which ought to be where capital is scare. Yet recent data suggest the opposite – net capital flows from developing countries to industrialized countries. This paper examines the role of financial market development in the accumulation of international reserves. In countries with underdeveloped capital markets the government’s accumulation of reserves may substitute for what would otherwise be private sector capital outflows. Effectively, these governments are acting as financial intermediaries, channeling domestic savings away from local uses and into international capital markets, thereby offsetting the effects of domestic financial constraints that lead to excessive private sector exposure to potential capital shortfalls.
SEE

China: The Truimph of State Capitalism

State Capitalism By Any Other Name

Petro Dollars Bail Out The CITI

Bank Smack Down

U.S. Economy Entering Twilight Zone

Sub Prime Exploitation

Wall Street Deja Vu

Housing Crash the New S&L Crisis

US Housing Market Crash

America's Debt Economy

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