Category Archives: Currencies

The Making of Juan Guaidó: US Regime-Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader, by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal

Juan Guaidó is right out of CIA central casting. From Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal at consortiumnews.com:

The Washington favorite has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization, write Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal of Grayzone.

Before the fateful date of Jan. 22, fewer than 1-in-5 Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela’s constitution.

But after a single phone call from from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself as president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the U.S.-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.

Echoing the Washington consensus, The New York Times editorial board hailed Guaidó as a “credible rival” to President Nicolás Maduro with a “refreshing style and vision of taking the country forward.” The Bloomberg News editorial board applauded him for seeking “restoration of democracy” and The Wall Street Journal declared him “a new democratic leader.” Meanwhile, Canada, numerous European nations, Israel, and the bloc of right-wing Latin American governments known as the Lima Group recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

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If the Army Stands With Maduro, What Is Plan B? by Patrick J. Buchanan

As in most dictatorships, or call it an authoritarian regime if you’d like, the military plays the essential role in Venezuela. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Pay the soldiers. The rest do not matter.”

This was the deathbed counsel given to his sons by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 211.

Nicolas Maduro must today appreciate the emperor’s insight.

For the political survival of this former bus driver and union boss hangs now upon whether Venezuela’s armed forces choose to stand by him or to desert him and support National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

Wednesday, Guaido declared Maduro’s election last May to a second six-year term to be a sham, and had himself inaugurated as acting president.

Thursday, the defense minister and army chief General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, with his top brass, dismissed the 35-year-old Guaido as a U.S. puppet, and pledged allegiance to Maduro.

Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

By Friday, however, the world had already taken sides.

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US Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap for Venezuelan Regime Change, by Whitney Webb

The US government is basically following the blueprint it laid out in Ukraine and Syria. Unfortunately, neither of those has turned out particularly well, and prospects don’t look any better in Venezuela. From Whitney Webb at theantimedia.org:

Since the decision of the Trump administration on Wednesday to recognize a member of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaidó, as an unelected “interim president,” the situation in the South American country has become increasingly tense, with efforts to force the current government of Venezuela — led by Nicolás Maduro — out of power having grown in intensity over the past few days.

Despite the enormous pressure, his government faces from both local and international sources, Maduro has managed to maintain his position thanks to a combination of factors. These include the loyalty of the country’s well-armed military, in addition to popular support from Venezuelans who recently voted for Maduro, as well as Venezuelans who may not like Maduro but prefer him to a politician hand-picked and foisted upon them by the United States.

Yet, the long-standing campaign of the United States to effect regime change in Venezuela — a campaign that has been ongoing ever since Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, was elected in 1998 — has shown time and again that the U.S. is unwilling to let go of its dream of installing a “friendly” government in the world’s most oil-rich country.

For that reason, if the Trump administration’s attempt to simply install a Venezuelan president fails to produce the intended result (regime change), there is substantial concern that the U.S. will turn to other means to bring about a change in government, including the instigation of a new proxy war.

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Crossing Borders with Gold and Silver Coins, by Doug Casey

There are some very good reasons to own gold and silver coins. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

It’s well-known that you have to make a declaration if you physically transport $10,000 or more in cash or monetary instruments in or out of the US, or almost any other country; governments collude on these things, often informally.

Gold has always been in something of a twilight zone in that regard. It’s no longer officially considered money. So it’s usually regarded as just a commodity, like copper, lead, or zinc, for these purposes. The one-ounce Canadian Maple Leaf and US Eagle both say they’re worth $50 of currency.

But I’ve had some disturbing experiences over the past couple of years crossing borders with coins. Of course, crossing any national border is potentially disturbing at any time. You might find yourself interrogated, strip searched, or detained for any reason or no reason. But I suspect what happened to me crossing a few borders in recent times could be a straw in the wind.

I’ve gradually accumulated about a dozen one-ounce silver rounds in my briefcase, some souvenirs issued by mining companies, plus others from Canada, Australia, China, and the US. But when I left Chile not long ago, the person monitoring the X-ray machine stopped me and insisted I take them out and show them to her. This had never happened before, but I wrote it off to chance. Then, when I was leaving Argentina a few weeks later, the same thing happened. What was really unusual was that the inspector looked at them, took them back to his supervisor, and then asked if I had any gold coins. I didn’t, he smiled, and I went on.

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Will Policy Makers Turn a Global Economic Slowdown Into a Crisis? by Daniel Lacalle

This is a far better description of how the economy actually works than anything you’d get out of economics textbooks. From Daniel Lacalle at mises.org:

The recent macroeconomic data of the leading economies point to a widespread slowdown. What is more concerning is not just a logical moderation in the path of growth, but the acceleration in the weakening of economies that were supposed to be stronger and healthier. It is even more concerning that this aggressive worsening of key leading indicators in China, the EU, and most emerging economies happens at the peak of the largest monetary and fiscal stimulus in decades.

It is easy to blame this widespread weakening on political headlines, trade wars, and — of course —Trump, but it would be disingenuous to believe those are the real factors behind the negative economic surprise.

The pace of global recoveries since 1975 has been slower and weaker, consistently, according to the OECD. Recoveries take longer and happen slower. At the same time, periods of crisis are less aggressive albeit more frequent than prior to 1975.  Another interesting evidence of the crises and recoveries since 1975 is that almost all economies end the recession period with more debt than before.

These factors are all concerning, but the evidence also shows that economic progress has continued regardless and that the main factors of wellbeing have improved dramatically. I had the opportunity of meeting Johan Norberg, author of “Progress” and we discussed all the positive elements we have seen in the past decades. In the same period, from 1975 to 2018, extreme poverty has been reduced to all-time lows. Hunger, poverty, illiteracy,  child mortality… all those terrible problems have been dramatically reduced to the lowest levels in history. That is the positive.

However, recognizing the positive is important, but ignoring the risks is dangerous. Global debt has ballooned to all-time highs, more than three times the world GDP. For those elements of progress to continue improving, we must stop the race of perverse incentives created by the wrong analysis of the origin of crises and the solutions that are often proposed in mainstream economics and politics.  I agree with Johan Norberg that the two main factors that have driven the phenomenal progress we have seen are free markets and openness. The freedom to innovate, experiment, create and share must come with the right incentives.

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Fire the Fed? by Ron Paul

Central banks are an idea whose time never should have come. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

President Trump’s frustration with the Federal Reserve’s (minuscule) interest rate increases that he blames for the downturn in the stock market has reportedly led him to inquire if he has the authority to remove Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Chairman Powell has stated that he would not comply with a presidential request for his resignation, meaning President Trump would have to fire Powell if Trump was serious about removing him.

The law creating the Federal Reserve gives the president power to remove members of the Federal Reserve Board — including the chairman — “for cause.” The law is silent on what does, and does not, constitute a justifiable cause for removal. So, President Trump may be able to fire Powell for not tailoring monetary policy to the president’s liking.

By firing Powell, President Trump would once and for all dispel the myth that the Federal Reserve is free from political interference. All modern presidents have tried to influence the Federal Reserve’s policies. Is Trump’s threatening to fire Powell worse than President Lyndon Johnson shoving a Fed chairman against a wall after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates? Or worse than President Carter “promoting” an uncooperative Fed chairman to Treasury secretary?

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Debt and Deficits: They’re Unsustainable, by Bob Luddy

There’s a certainty to increasing debt and compounding interest: eventually they must end. Either the debt is repaid or repudiated. From Bob Luddy at spectator.org:

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