Pages

Saturday, December 31, 2011

TOP 10 ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES OF 2011




TOP 10 DISCOVERIES OF 2011
By Archaeology Magazine, Volume 65 Number 1, January/February 2012 Issue.


Years from now, when we look back on 2011, the year will almost certainly be defined by political and economic upheaval. At the same time that Western nations were shaken by a global economic slump, people in the Middle East and North Africa forcefully removed heads of state who had been in power for decades. “Arab Spring,” as the various revolutions have collectively been named, will have far-reaching implications, not just for the societies in which it took place, but also for archaeology. No year-end review would be complete without polling archaeological communities in the affected areas to determine whether sites linked to the world’s oldest civilizations, from Apamea in Syria to Saqqara in Egypt, are still intact.

Of course, traditional fieldwork took place in 2011 as well. Archaeologists uncovered one of the world’s first buildings in Jordan. In Guatemala, a Maya tomb offered rare evidence of a female ruler, and, in Scotland, a boat was found with a 1,000-year-old Viking buried inside.

We also witnessed the impact that technology continues to have on archaeology. Researchers used a ground-penetrating radar survey of the site of a Roman gladiator school to create a digital model of what it may once have looked like. And scientists studying an early hominid have taken their investigation online by tapping the scientific blogging community. The team is seeking help to determine if they have actually found a sample of fossilized skin that appears to be more than 2 million years old. These projects stand as clear evidence that as cultures around the world undergo sweeping changes, so too does the practice and process of archaeology.

[Note: The listing below is not in the particular order given]

1. Viking Boat Burial - Ardnamurchan, Scotland
by Kate Ravilious
 
An artist’s conception shows how the burial may have
originally looked. (Sarah Paris)

A spectacular Viking boat burial was uncovered this year on the coast of Ardnamurchan, a remote region of western Scotland, the first such burial to be found on the British mainland. The Viking, who is thought to have perished over 1,000 years ago, was most likely a high-ranking warrior. He was buried lying in a 16-foot-long boat, with artifacts including a sword with silver inlay on the hilt, a shield, a spear, an ax, and a drinking horn. “The level of preservation of the objects and the range of grave goods make this one of the most important Viking burials found in the U.K.,” says Colleen Batey, a Viking specialist from the University of Glasgow.

Although the location is isolated today, at the time of the burial, it was right on the main north-south seafaring route between Ireland and Norway. No Viking dwellings have been found in Ardnamurchan, but Vikings are known to have inhabited the nearby islands of the Hebrides. “We don’t know why they chose this location for the burial, but the Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds there may have made it an important place for them,” says Oliver Harris, project co-director from the University of Leicester. Isotope analysis of the Viking’s teeth may eventually help the scientists pin down where he was from.

2. Neolithic Community Centers - Wadi Faynan, Jordan
by Nikhil Swaminathan
 
(David Oliver, WF16 Excavation Project)

The discovery of the remains of a 4,500-square-foot structure at the south Jordanian site of Wadi Faynan is helping redefine the purpose of architecture at the point in history when roving bands of hunter-gatherers transitioned to sedentary societies. Rather than characterizing early Neolithic settlements dating to nearly 12,000 years ago as residential clusters tied to the advent of agriculture, structures such as the tower at Jericho on the West Bank and Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey suggest an initial stage of settlement where people coalesced around communal activities and rituals.

Add to that list the oval-shaped building at Wadi Faynan, known simply as O75. It dates to 11,700 years ago and, according to Bill Finlayson, director of the Council for British Research in the Levant, who led its excavation, “it appears to have been built by digging a pit and then lining the walls with a very strong mud mixture.” A floor was constructed from mud plaster and surrounded by two tiers of benches, three feet deep and one-and-a-half feet high, recalling an amphitheater. Postholes indicate that a roof covered a section of the structure.

Some finds, including mortars for grinding found in raised platforms at the structure’s center, suggest people of the time might have used the building as a venue to collectively process plants, such as barley and pistachio. O75 may have additionally offered a space for communal gatherings. “It could have been a locale where small groups of people were aggregating on a periodic basis,” says A. Nigel Goring-Morris, a prehistoric archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who was not involved in the excavation.

3. Open Source Australopithecus - Malapa, South Africa
by Zach Zorich
 
Mineral deposits found on the fossilized remains of
Australopithecus sediba could be early human skin.
(Courtesy Lee Berger and the University of the
Witwatersrand)

The 2.2-million-year-old fossils of Australopithecus sediba have been providing new insights into human evolution since they were discovered in South Africa’s Malapa Cave in 2010. But now scans of some of the fossils have revealed a thin layer of minerals that could be the remains of Australopithecus skin. To determine whether this is the case, Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and lead researcher on the project, is taking a revolutionary step and making this research project open source.

Berger has enlisted John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist and blogger at the University of Wisconsin, to reach out to the online scientific community for input on how the research should be designed and to help analyze the “skin” samples. Because no one has ever found fossilized early hominid skin, Hawks says, there are no experts on the subject.

According to Hawks, the open-source approach will help the team avoid a common pitfall of early hominid research — the sometimes decades-long delay between a fossil’s discovery and the publication of scientists’ analysis of the find. The team will post project updates online to inform the community of its progress and address any issues that might arise before submitting the research to a peer-reviewed journal.

The project is starting to attract interest worldwide. Berger’s team is in discussions with Russian anthropologists who suggested comparing the Malapa samples to other specimens of fossilized skin. The team is also working with a mineralogist from the University of Oslo, in Norway, to find a way to examine the structure of the “skin” with an electron microscope. If the mineral layer does turn out to be preserved skin, it could provide information about A. sediba’s hair, pigmentation, and sweat glands. If the layer turns out to be something else, paleoanthropology may still have gained a new approach to research.

4. First Domesticated Dogs - Předmostí, Czech Republic
by Zach Zorich
 
One of three skulls of the earliest domesticated dogs
found in Czech Republic. This one was buried with a
mastodon bone in its mouth. (Courtesy Mietje Germonpre)

Researchers have, until recently, thought that dog domestication occurred about 14,000 years ago. In 2011, the case for it taking place much earlier received a boost from sites across Eurasia. Mietje Germonpré, of Belgium’s Museum of Natural History, and a team of researchers published a paper describing three canid skulls that had many of the distinctive traits that separate domesticated dogs from their wolf ancestors, including a shorter, broader snout and a wider brain case. The skulls, which date to roughly 31,500 years ago, were part of a collection from the site of Předmostí, in Czech Republic. In addition, a separate research team found a dog skull at Razboinichya Cave in Siberia that was dated to 33,000 years ago. Both finds support a 2009 research paper published by Germonpré and her colleagues describing a 36,000-year-old dog skull found at Goyet in Belgium. Critics could write off the single dog skull from Goyet as an aberration. “When I received the results of the date I was really disappointed,” Germonpré said of the Goyet skull. “I thought no one would believe it. I couldn’t believe it.” But the evidence from all three sites now makes Germonpré’s case much stronger.

5. Rare Maya Female Ruler - Nakum, Guatemala
by Jessica Woodard
 
(Courtesy Wiesław Koszkul, the Nakum Archaeological Project)

Surprisingly untouched by looters, a well-hidden burial chamber found at the archaeological site of Nakum in northeastern Guatemala may have been the tomb of a female ruler from the second or third century A.D. The eastern-facing tomb held a 1,300-year-old skeleton, a jade pectoral, and a decorated vessel in the Tikal Dancer style, among other items. Through a crack in the tomb's floor, archaeologists uncovered an even older tomb with female remains bearing two vessels atop the head, along with other, more precious items. The tomb's quality and location suggest it was a burial chamber for a royal lineage that lasted half a millennium.

6. Gladiator Gym Goes Virtual - Carnuntum, Austria
by Jessica Woodard
 
A virtual re-creation of the gladiator school found in
Austria. (Courtesy the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for
Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology)

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology has allowed an international team of researchers from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI-ArchPro) to both identify a ludus (gladiator school) at the Roman city of Carnuntum in Austria and bring it before the public in an unprecedented way. What was once a vibrant city of 50,000 residents is now the site of an immense archaeological park. The newly discovered fourth-century A.D. gladiator school, the fourth largest ever found in the world, located just west of the largest amphitheater outside of Rome, is a self-enclosed complex that includes an inner courtyard, circular training area, living quarters, and a cemetery. The high-resolution images collected from the GPR survey show an under-floor heating system, bathing area, and walking paths within the complex. With the improved GPR technology developed by LBI-ArchPro, a complete picture of gladiator life is starting to emerge. Digitally re-created images of the ludus allow visitors to see how the school fit into the city’s landscape, and it’s possible to view them on a smartphone by using the free Wikitude World Browser software.

7. Ancient Chinese Takeout - Shaanxi/Xinjiang, China
by Lauren Hilgers
 
A researcher samples the world's oldest soup, which
is cloudy and green due to the bronze vessel it was
stored in for more than 2,000 years. (M. Klein,
7Reasons, Imaginechina)

Today, dog soup and millet noodles may be meals only an archaeologist could love. In two tombs at opposite ends of the country, archaeologists have found the remains of intriguing dishes, well preserved in bronze vessels and clay pots and buried with the dead. In a Warring States tomb in Shaanxi Province, one team found a soup containing what they believe to be dog bones. And in Subeixi Cemetery in Xinjiang, another group of archaeologists found 2,400-year-old intact noodles made of millet. With efforts to re-create the meals, archaeologists may soon be eating like the ancients.

8. War Begets State - Lake Titicaca, Peru
by Julian Smith
 
Archaeologists believe neighbors from the nearby
settlement of Pukara (above) burned Taraco.
(Courtesy Charles Stanish, Cotsen Institute of
Archaeology at the University of California, Los
Angeles)

Near the northern end of Lake Titicaca in Peru, a team led by Charles Stanish of the University of California, Los Angeles, found evidence that warfare may have been critical in the formation of early states. The main line of evidence is a 38-yard-long layer of ash and debris in a high-status residential area of a settlement called Taraco, one of the two largest political centers in the region. The site-wide burn, dated to the first century A.D., was so intense it melted adobe walls and carbonized thatched roofs.

Taraco’s fortunes changed drastically after the fire. The production of high-quality pottery and obsidian artifacts plummeted, and residents shifted from building with fine stone to working in the fields. At the same time, the nearby settlement of Pukara took off, expanding its territory by at least 60 miles and showing characteristics of state-level societies such as urbanized settlements, a warrior class, and full-time craft specialists.

Put all that evidence together, and Stanish theorizes that Pukara attacked and destroyed its rival Taraco. After two millennia of coexistence, war had come to the Titicaca Basin — but instead of snuffing the early spark of civilization, it served as tinder. Cooperation between cultures can certainly be a path to success, but sometimes organized conflict can be a more efficient, logical way to acquire resources.

“The models of state formation that do not see warfare as a central key element do not have it right,” says Steve LeBlanc of Harvard University.

9. Atlantic Whaler Found in Pacific - French Frigate Shoals, Hawaii
by Samir S. Patel
 
(Courtesy the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

America's whaling fleet expanded the country's global reach and transformed the economy of the Pacific in the 1800s. Very few wrecks of these vessels have ever been found, as they usually went down in deep water, far from shore. This year, federal marine archaeologists working at French Frigate Shoals in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii finally identified one — Two Brothers, a Nantucket whaler that sank in 1823. The discovery started with a 10-foot anchor, and also included three iron trypots in which blubber was rendered into oil, remnants of the ship's rigging, and another anchor. Two Brothers has a special place in literary history. It was the second ship led by hard-luck captain George Pollard Jr. His first was the Essex, which was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale, providing inspiration for Moby Dick. Oh, and the Essex crew, including Pollard, resorted to cannibalism while drifting and starving on the open ocean.

10. Arab Spring Impacts Archaeology - Libya/Egypt/Tunisia/Syria
by Mike Elkin
 
While claims were made that harm had come to sites
in Libya, such as the Leptis Magna (above), the
damage was negligible. (Rob Walker/Flickr)

No discussion of the year 2011 can be complete without a reference to what's been termed Arab Spring. The political phenomenon has the potential to have an extraordinary impact on archaeology for years to come.

In Libya, a Russian journalist broadcast that thieves plundered the country's museums and NATO bombed the ancient Roman sites of Leptis Magna and Sabratha. At the end of September, a three-person team from Blue Shield, a nonprofit organization concerned with the protection of cultural heritage in areas of conflict, traveled to western Libya and found Leptis Magna untouched. The theater at Sabratha suffered minor bullet damage, but the rest of the site was fine. Rebels had entered Tripoli's National Museum, but only wrecked Qaddafi's old cars on display; museum staff had previously hidden or moved important artifacts. Overall, the Blue Shield report said, they found no evidence of organized looting at the museums or archaeological sites they visited. Nevertheless, there are still concerns.

“There is a lot of hearsay, but artifacts have been smuggled out of the country through Egypt,” says Ray Bondin, Malta's ambassador to UNESCO, who has worked with Libyan heritage authorities for many years. “The sites are not well protected and the department of antiquities is still organizing itself.”

After rebels drove Qaddafi's forces from Benghazi, for instance, the so-called Treasure of Benghazi — around 8,000 bronze, silver, and gold coins and other artifacts from the ancient city of Cyrene near modern-day al-Bayda — disappeared from a bank vault.

Egypt appears to have been affected more than its westerly neighbor. After the revolution erupted in late January, then Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass offered assurances that all sites and artifacts were safe. Later, however, this proved not to be true. Looters had attacked dozens of sites and broke into storerooms throughout the country, including in the delta region, Abydos, Abu Sir, Giza, Dashur, Lisht, Saqqara, and Quntara. Thieves also pilfered artifacts from Cairo's Egyptian Museum, while protests and street battles went on outside in Tahrir Square.

Archaeologists in Egypt now say security has returned, but organization has faltered since the Mubarak regime fell. In an attempt to stabilize the situation, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is no longer part of the Culture Ministry, and instead is part of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's portfolio. “The SCA is going through a very painful auditing process,” says Tamar Teneishvili, a UNESCO specialist in Cairo. “And the treasury for cultural heritage management, funded by tourism, is empty.”

Tunisia, the first Arab Spring country to evict its dictator, appeared to have avoided post-uprising archaeological problems. Once Ben Ali and his family fled the country, however, an earlier, state-sponsored looting epidemic was discovered. On a program on France 2 television, Complément d'enquête, Fathi Bejaoui of Tunisia's National Heritage Institute was filmed as he entered Ben Ali's daughter's abandoned beach mansion. There they found nearly 200 artifacts used as decoration. Ancient columns held up a large exhaust hood in the kitchen and marble friezes were cut to frame the fireplace.

Syria could be the next country to oust a regime, but the government has sealed the country to outsiders and information is sparse. The state-run news agency reported in September 2011 that looters had hit the Seleucid city Apamea, not far from modern-day Hama, the seat of opposition to the Assad regime.

[Source: Archaeology Magazine]

THE 10 WORLD NEWS STORIES OF 2011



THE 10 NEWS STORIES OF 2011 YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE MISSED
By Scott Adelson, Ecosalon, 29 December 2011.

 
10 global events we were all intrinsically part of.

What makes an event memorable? How does a “happening” sear into our collective mindset and take up permanent residence in our hearts and in our souls? Most often, of course, we are not personally there to witness or directly experience occurrences of global importance.

How many of us were in Cairo’s Tahrir square as protests raged earlier this year?

Who among us lost a loved one or ate radioactive food in Japan, or suffered pangs of hunger in East Africa?

In our media-saturated world, memorable events – indeed memories themselves – are delivered to us via an increasingly wide range of words and pictures, bits and bytes, accounts that stream to our attention, some touching us for a moment, some for a lifetime. Here’s a look at our Top 10 (in no particular order), with links to the stories and accounts that made them indelible to us.

1. March of Horrors: Japan’s Suffering


A tsunami generated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of northeast Japan killed nearly 20,000, caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and triggered a nuclear power plant disaster that unleashed radiation into the environment. Within hours, videos of the unimaginable waves crushing the Japanese shoreline flooded world consciousness via YouTube and other Internet outlets.

2. The Harder They Fall: Arab Spring


Beginning with a small demonstration in Tunisia that grew to topple a regime, flames of unrest spread to Egypt, ousting dictator Hosni Mubarak, and then to Bahrain and Yemen. Eventually Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi would be dead, and even today, Syrian protesters remain caught in a bloody battle with dictator Bashar al-Assad. Did social media enable and perhaps even spark these events?

3. European Disunion: Economic Crisis in the E.U.


The global economic downturn wreaked havoc in the European Union where austerity measures in Greece resulted in riots and protest, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was driven from office, and measures taken by Germany and France exacerbated an ongoing fissure between the E.U. and Britain. Meanwhile, disagreement about how to avoid a catastrophic meltdown flared across the Atlantic, as opinions about what to do remained as numerous as there are pundits and stakeholders.

4. Wanted Dead: American Operation Kills Osama Bin Laden


In May, American helicopters bearing a special operations team raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, whose followers carried out the 9/11 attacks. Within hours his body was buried at sea, and images of the corpse suppressed. Instead, a powerful and now-famous image of White House personnel – including president Barack Obama and Secretary of state Hillary Clinton – remotely watching the mission was made public.

5. The Fruit of Invention: The World Mourns Loss of Apple Founder Steve Jobs


The world lost some great minds to cancer and health issues as 2011 wore on, including writer and polemicist Christopher Hitchens and Czech playwright, dissident and politician Vaclav Havel. But, despite the sense that “it was coming,” the loss that seemed to most deeply move our high-tech world was that of innovator, inventor and Apple Founder Steve Jobs. As news of his death spread across the internet in October – in part via millions of his own inventions – biographer Walter Isaccson’s iBio hit the presses, eventually to set new sales records.

6. From Wall Street to Main Street: Occupiers Take a Stand


Beginning with a September protest in a New York City park near Wall Street, what became known as the “Occupy” movement quickly spread to many major American cities and beyond. The “leaderless” protests are said to represent “the 99 percent” against the richest 1 percent of Americans, who benefit from corporate and political corruption and greed at the majority’s expense. In November, images of a campus police officer at the University of California Davis pepper-spraying students went viral over the internet, instantly becoming a rallying point for the movement.

7. Us vs. Them: Obstructionism Paralyzes Washington


Despite being fractured between party traditionalists and Tea Partiers, a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives shackled the hands of Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic-led Senate. On issues ranging from the economy to the environment, American leaders reached a seemingly endless stream of stalemates. Most notably, the President unveiled a massive jobs bill that was labeled dead-on-arrival by members of both parties. The New York Times commented on the political gamesmanship, and EcoSalon presented the many rifts dividing America.

8. Weather, Weather Everywhere:  Climate Change Marches On


With drought in Texas, killer cyclones in the Philippines, and monster floods in South America and Thailand, 2011 was another year in what seems like an annual escalation of climate change and severe weather. Perhaps the most wrenching weather-related disaster was the return of drought to the Horn of Africa. Data continues to show the impact humans have on the world’s climate, yet deniers continue their war on science. In October, EcoSalon named names.

9. We are the World: All 7 Billion of Us


As the human population reached the 7 billion mark (with 3 billion more projected by the end of the century), debates about resources and birth control reheated. Can our planet sustain such exponential growth? In its inimitable way, National Geographic gave us the story in pictures.

10. Ask and Tell: End of Anti-Gay Military Policy in the American Armed Forces


After 18 years of controversy, the Pentagon repealed its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in September. After encouraging those who have been expelled under the policy to reenlist, President Barack Obama declared: “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” An MSNBC story covered a historic kiss.

[Source: Ecosalon. Edited.]

CHINA'S BUBBLE BURST BY ILLUMINATI-BANKER MANIPULATION?



As my previous post shows, China is one of the three global pillars of the world economy. As the world’s most important trading nation currently, China’s trade data has become a key gauge of global economic health. And China’s reach into countries around the globe is extensive.

The following articles, however, argued that China's economy is artificial and the China bubble will be burst by the manipulation of the globalist bankers and the Illuminati.

ILLUMINATI WILL BURST CHINA'S BUBBLE
by David Richards, Henry Makow, 28 December 2011.

The Illuminati have chosen China to be the main producer/manufacturer of the New World Order (NWO). China's economy is completely artificial. The stated economic justifications for China's current rise are lies, and a veil for an agenda.

The mainstream media generally portray the US as a dying giant and China as an unstoppable rising power.

And yet, both countries have virtually the same debt-to-GDP levels. The US has $15 trillion worth of debt and a GDP of just over $14 trillion, while China has a GDP of $5.8 trillion (see chart below) and debts of $5.7 trillion.

Data from World Bank, World Development Indicators.

So why is China portrayed as being strong? Because, as the Goldman Sachs graph below shows, over the next 40-years the Illuminati plan to weaken the US and strengthen China. Economics are a veil for an agenda.


China is picked to be the economic powerhouse of the New World Order.

A 2003 projection of the world's economies by Goldman Sachs 'predicts' that China's GDP will overtake the US in 2040. By 2050 China's GDP will have reached $45,000 billion, leaving the US a distant second with $35,000 billion. Germany, the powerhouse of the EU, will only have a GDP of $2,500 billion.

Huge Debts

This projection is at odds with China's current economic weakness. The economy is fueled by a construction bubble that should have burst years ago.

Recently Larry Lang, an economics professor and Chinese TV personality, gave a speech spelling out China's dire economic predicament.

He calculates China's debt to be about 36 trillion yuan (US$5.68 trillion). This calculation is reached by adding up Chinese local government debt (between 16 trillion and 19.5 trillion yuan, or US$2.5 trillion and US$3 trillion), and the debt owed by state-owned enterprises (another 16 trillion). The combined interest on these debts is a colossal two trillion yuan per year.

Lang believes China is bankrupt and can't understand why the country isn't in economic free-fall. By his memorable calculation 'every province in China is Greece.' Why aren't they imploding like Greece?

China's economy is completely artificial. According to Lang, private consumption makes up just 30% of Chinese economic activity.

In 2010, 70% of GDP came from infrastructure construction, including real estate development, railways, and highways. An investment banker recently described China's construction bubble as the 'greatest bubble in history.'

Clearly, China cannot afford to fuel this bubble itself. The Illuminati bankers fuel it to aid the country's development.

Collapse Delayed

The Illuminati like a country to be in monstrous debt so they can crash its economy at will, and use the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to hijack the country's political system and major corporations.

It is likely that China will experience an economic collapse once it reaches the desired level of development.

This is what happened to South Korea, one of the  'Asian Tigers' that crashed in 1997. Like China, South Korea had been going through a rapid period of growth, posting growth figures of 6-10% each year, due to having a protected economy receiving plenty of overseas investment.

However, once South Korea reached the desired level of development, the bankers crashed their economy and took full control of the country.

South Korea needed IMF loans to survive. Before the South Korean general election in 1998, the IMF took the unprecedented step of demanding that all Presidential contenders agreed to their will.

In the 're-adjustment process' all the major South Korean corporations were sold off to foreign investors, e.g. General Electric bought a controlling share in the technology giant LG.

The information on IMF's gutting of South Korea comes from Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine book, p. 263.

The same scam could be pulled on China.

The Illuminati have put China on a rapid course of development, while keeping the country under their control by making it an economic powder keg that can be lit at any time.

[Source: Henry Makow. Edited.]

CHINA'S 'ARTIFICIAL ECONOMY' TO CRUMBLE AMID BANKER MANIPULATION
By The Coming Depression Editorial Staff, 30 December 2011.


Currency Death Spiral

The US and China are locked in a long term ideological battle over currency rates, and preserving the value of the US dollar IS NOT part of the strategy. The Illuminati like a country to be in monstrous debt so they can crash its economy at will, and use the IMF to hijack the country’s political system and major corporations.

Illuminati symbol in China's currency Yuan

It is likely that China will experience an economic collapse once it reaches the desired level of development.

This is what happened to South Korea, one of the ‘Asian Tigers’ that crashed in 1997. Like China, South Korea had been going through a rapid period of growth, posting growth figures of 6-10% each year, due to having a protected economy receiving plenty of overseas investment.

1. The US wants China to allow its currency to appreciate (as it would if allowed to float freely – more accurately reflect market forces) and reduce the trade surpluses China is running (Chinese exports would decline while US exports would increase as the Chinese currency strengthened relative to the US).

2. China says NO on grounds that a stronger currency would result in a reduction in its exports which increase discontent at home (revolutions would occur against the Chinese communist government – the revolutionary government is now counter-revolutionary!).

3. The US realizes that it can do little to force the change of Chinese behaviour in this exchange rate matter; however, the US does realize the Chinese have NO CHOICE but to keep on buying US Treasuries in order to peg its currency at a fixed rate against the US dollar (with some negligible band to 'float' within).

4. Knowing the Chinese have no choice, the US is ACTIVELY DEBASING the US dollar to try to make the Chinese change their minds about increasing the value of the Chinese currency. As the US dollar goes down, so does the Chinese currency against other non-US currencies. This causes exports in China to increase further to the non-US world causing rising inflation pressures within China. If the Chinese insist on the pegged currency, they are going to be left holding the bag as the US currency devalues and import inflation into the Chinese economy as the Chinese currency follows the US currency down.

5. The US knows from experience that this import of inflation into the Chinese economy will eventually overcome the Communist Party's ability to manage inflation and WILL RESULT in an eventual increase in the value of the Chinese currency.

6. Unfortunately, this market movement will be all at once and a VERY MESSY exercise as market forces overwhelm Chinese management of its currency – it will happen quickly and in an uncontrolled manner rather than a gradual and controlled (orderly) manner.

7. Hang on to your hat folks!



Related posts:

1. Why world flocks to US amid EURO, Korean War woes.
2. French economy stalls amid zero growth second quarter.
3. China threatens US economy with currency revaluation.
4. Chinese Yuan reaches 17 year high.
5. China's economy overheating: Bernanke.
6. China slapped with tubing tariff sign of deepening depression.

[Source: The Coming Depression. Edited.]

CHINA'S GHOST CITIES

By Business Insider and World of Mysteries.

The hottest market in the hottest economy in the world is Chinese real estate. The big question is how vulnerable is this market to a crash.

One of China's empty cities
One red flag is the vast number of vacant homes spread through China, by some estimates up to 64 million vacant homes.

Satellite photos of these unnerving places
were tracked down, based on a report from Forensic Asia Limited. They call it a clear sign of a bubble: "There’s city after city full of empty streets and vast government buildings, some in the most inhospitable locations. It is the modern equivalent of building pyramids. With 20 new cities being built every year, we hope to be able to expand our list going forward."

Here are some samples of the amazing satellite images of empty Chinese cities.


China's most famous ghost city: Ordos
Ordos even has an avant-garde art museum - totally empty
China's biggest ghost city: Zhengzhou New District
Zhengzhou New District residential towers - EMPTY
Chenggong already has 100,000 new apartments with no occupants
Brand new, empty houses outside Jiangsu
Another empty development outside Jiangsu

Click the source links below for more images.

[Source: Business Insider and World of Mysteries. Edited.]


Friday, December 30, 2011

GLOBAL ECONOMIC OUTLOOK 2012 PART III: THE GLOBAL BALANCE SHEET'S DANGEROUS NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP OF DEBT



Global Economic Outlook 2012 Part I
Global Economic Outlook 2012 Part II

This post reproduces a summary (with slight editing) of the December 2011 Cohen Plan Monthly Report which, backed by statistics, charts, and historical references, provides an excellent analysis of the ongoing – and worsening – global debt crisis.

The Report focuses on the current unhealthy global government balance sheets and structural economic problems which were brought about by years of excess and financial engineering. These problems have in turn created a dangerous negative feedback loop which is expected to cause recessions around the globe in 2012. The Report outlines this negative feedback loop and explains why a difficult market environment in 2012 is predicted.

SUMMARIZING THE GLOBAL BALANCE SHEET'S NEGATIVE FEEDBACK LOOP OF DEBT
by Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, 24 December 2011.

Cohen Investment Strategies courtesy of Contrary Investing, submits:

Global Balance Sheet Recessions

Global governments are carrying more debt than ever and raising question as to whether or not a second — and perhaps even more dangerous credit crisis — is inevitable. The clock is ticking and every second, the world takes on more debt. In 2001, global government debt totaled $18.2 trillion. Fast-forward a decade, and the figure now totals nearly $44 trillion, an increase of 140 percent (more than 9.0% a year). The chart below depicts the countries with the highest and lowest debt levels.


According to The Economist, global sovereign debt is forecasted to grow an additional 7% in 2012 reaching a historical high of $47 trillion. Measuring debt against gross domestic product (GDP), the global debt-to-GDP ratio at the end of 2010 reached approximately 80%. While the heaviest balance sheet offenders include troubled European countries like Italy, Greece and Portugal (See Figure 1 below), the United States isn’t far behind with $15 trillion in debt and a debt-to GDP ratio topping 100%. And tipping the scale at over 200% at the end of 2010 was Japan. The result of this rising debt means more government interference, a further slowdown in the already debilitated economic environment and the possibility of further citizen uprisings.


One of the problems with economic crises is that mainstream economists and financial advisors either don’t see them coming or simply won’t admit to them. That’s exactly what happened in the fall of 2008, when the financial crisis kicked off in the United States. Since that time, governments have continued to spend, all while production has slowed and unemployment has skyrocketed.

As we enter the fourth year of the post-crisis environment, there is no sign of growth that is impressive enough to get us out of the negative feedback loop in which governments have continued to operate. A negative feedback loop takes hold when massive government debt loads, a weakening financial system and a slowing economy feed off each other, interrupted by Federal Reserve and other central bank reflationary attempts.

As shown in the Dangerous Negative Feedback Loop chart below, rising debts become unsustainable and trigger austerity measures designed to reduce spending and/or increase taxes or other revenue sources to try and reduce debt. In significantly depressed economies, the drag continues and a recession or even depression-like conditions hit. The more production and employment falter, the more lending contracts, causing further harm to the economy, missed budgets and higher bond yields.

The result is a downward spiral of business and financial activity and a banking crisis usually ensues. Under pressure to stimulate the market, the Federal Reserve and other central banks carry out band-aid fixes by printing money and governments implement additional austerity measures which starts the vicious cycle of the feedback loop all over again.

Dangerous Negative Feedback Loop


In the center of the feedback loop is what we call Euphoric Mania. This is when the Federal Reserve and central banks step in to help with their band-aids whether it’s printing money, lowering rates, coordinating central bank action, or expanding the balance sheet by trillions. But, like any high, the lift is temporary and doesn’t take hold. In no time at all, we are back to where we were at the top of the loop, because without sustainable economic growth, the band aids don’t solve the problem.

Roger Nightingale, well-known European economist and strategist at RDN Associates, believes a 2012 global recession is a 65 to 75 percent probability and that further deterioration into a lengthy depression is possible. So what does this mean in terms of a growth outlook? Nightingale offered this forecast:
“The peak rate of growth for the world's economy occurred more than 12 months ago. We are probably going into negative territory around spring of next year; it is not for certain, but that is the most likely scenario… should recession kick in; the global economy might be too weak to generate any GDP growth for years, or even decades. When the downturn ends, and when the upturn begins, will it be powerful enough to take us into some sort of growth again? Or are we going to find ourselves in a protracted depression-type scenario?"
The fix needs to come from a unified front, not just a single country or continent. When we look at the three global pillars of the world economy — the United States, Europe and China — sure, each has its own problems, but each one’s fiscal choices impact the globe as a whole. And really, it’s four pillars when we add the Federal Reserve. We are a four-legged intertwined economic and financial system that relies heavily on each other for banking resources, government debt issuance, investments and exports. The feedback loops are never ending. And when economic growth stalls, debt accumulation increases. Without taking tough, systemic and coordinated economic measures including fiscal consolidation and a commitment by governments to cut rising deficits and reduce what are, in some cases, dangerous levels of national indebtedness, a second crisis may indeed be inevitable. The world is trying to recover from the worst financial crisis in 70-years and is suffering from debts levels not seen in decades and the crisis continues to intensify. And, as the graph below shows, with the exception of Ireland, countries need just as much, if not more, financing to cover debts in 2011 compared to 2010. Nothing has changed...


Download and read the full analysis at Zero Hedge or Scribd.

[Source: Zero Hedge and The Contrary Investing Report. Edited.]