Daily Archives: January 25, 2012

Iran’s Ahmadinejad ups rates to stem money crisis

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By Mitra Amiri and Robin Pomeroy

TEHRAN | Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:29am ES

(Reuters) – Iran increased bank interest rates on Wednesday and indicated it would further restrict sales of foreign currency, hoping to halt a spiraling currency crisis after new Western sanctions accelerated a dash for dollars by Iranians worried about their economic future.

“The economy minister has announced that (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad has agreed with the approval of the Money and Credit Council to increase interest rates on bank deposits to up to 21 percent,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

The central bank also told Iranians they should only buy dollars if they are travelling and not hoard them to guard against economic uncertainty.

New U.S. and European sanctions targeting Iran’s vital oil exports and its central bank seriously exacerbated a slide in the Iranian currency that was already under way, creating what one senior politician described as economic instability not even witnessed during Iran’s 8-year war with Iraq in the 1980s.

The West hopes the economic pressure will force Iran to curb the nuclear work they fear is aimed at making bombs but which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

The rial started weakening after a decision last April to cut interest paid on bank deposits to a range of a 12.5-15.5 percent, below inflation which is currently around 20 percent, prompting many Iranians to withdraw savings and buy gold and foreign currency and pushing up the price of both.

The dash for those safe havens accelerated sharply after the new sanctions were announced, resulting in the rial losing 50 percent of its value against the price of dollars available on the open market in just one month.

Monday’s decision marks a policy U-turn for Ahmadinejad, who faces a political test in March 2 parliamentary election. He previously vetoed efforts by Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani to increase rates.

WAR

Bahmani indicated the rate increase would be accompanied by further restrictions on the sale of foreign currency.

“We will provide foreign currency in any amount for people demanding it for various uses,” he said in an interview published on the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

“Travelers, university students and patients will be supplied at an appropriate rate,” he said. Importers of vital goods would also be able to buy as much foreign currency as they need.

“The government will not give foreign currency for storage,” he added, implying that Iranians will no longer be allowed to exchange their rials for hard currency unless they can prove an immediate need.

The rial’s slide is a huge risk to already rising inflation as Iran is heavily reliant on imported consumer and intermediate goods whose prices have surged as the rial has depreciated.

“Even during the war we did not witness such instability,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

“Government officials and the president himself should definitely be held accountable to people and public opinion.”

Ahmadinejad’s representative in parliament – which is already highly critical of the president and may become more so after March 2 – said the new policy would burst what he called the bubble of gold and dollar prices.

“The effects of the new decision will be clear in the market very soon and the bubbles being created for foreign currency and gold will be removed,” the ISNA news agency quoted Mohammad Reza Mirtajedini as saying.

The deputy head of parliament’s economics committee criticized the government for reacting late to the crisis which he said had “no reasonable, logical basis.”

“Increasing the bank deposit interest rates is an appropriate tool for people’s investments but doing it in a hasty manner and the current inflamed situation of the market will not solve any problem,” Mostafa Motavarzadeh told the semi-official Fars news agency.

The price of 8.133-gram gold coins dropped on the news, local media reported, to 8,500,000 rials, reversing most of last week’s 45 percent increase when the price rose to 10,100,000.

The effect on the price of dollars was negligible however with ISNA saying the price had fallen on the news to 22,500 rials from 23,000 rials – still double the central bank’s official “reference rate” of 11,293 rials.

However, exchange agencies contacted by Reuters said they had no dollars to sell, reflecting either a shortage of notes or a reluctance to sell in such a volatile atmosphere.

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Despite Sanctions by EU & US, Irani Black Gold Turns into 24K Gold

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JNN 24 Jan 2012 Tehran : Despite fresh EU sanctions against Iran’s oil exports,India has agreed to pay the price of crude oil it imports from Iran in gold, which makes it the first country to drop the US dollar for purchasing the Iranian oil. China has shown interest in Iran’s oil with hiring at least two supertankers to ship oil from the country.

According to a report published by DEBKAfile news website, unnamed sources have stressed that China is also expected to follow suit.

India and China take about one million barrels per day (bpd), or 40 percent of Iran’s total exports of 2.5 million bpd and both of them have huge reserves of gold.

The report added that by trading in gold, New Delhi and Beijing enable Tehran to bypass the upcoming freeze on its Central Bank’s assets and the oil embargo which the European Union’s foreign ministers agreed to impose on Monday, January 23.

The EU currently buys around 20 percent of Iran’s oil exports.

On the other hand, experts say the vast sums involved in these transactions are expected to boost the price of gold and depress the value of the dollar on world markets.

“An Indian delegation visited Tehran last week to discuss payment options in view of the new sanctions. The two sides were reported to have agreed that payment for the oil purchased would be partly in yen and partly in rupees. The switch to gold was kept [in the] dark,” the report stated.

India is Iran’s second largest customer after China, and purchases around USD 12-billion-a-year worth of Iranian crude, or about 12 percent of its consumption.

Delhi is to execute its transactions, the report said, through two state-owned banks: the Calcutta-based UCO Bank, whose board of directors is made up of the Indian government, the Reserve Bank of India representatives, and Halk Bankasi (Peoples Bank) — Turkey’s seventh largest bank which is owned by the government.

US President Barack Obama signed into law, on December 31, 2011, new sanctions which seek to penalize other countries for importing Iran’s oil or doing transaction with Islamic Republic’s Central Bank.

Foreign ministers of the European Union also imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil imports over the country’s peaceful nuclear program during their Monday meeting in Brussels.

The sanctions involve an immediate ban on all new oil contracts with Iran and a freeze on the assets of the country’s Central Bank within the EU.

Tehran has warned that the embargo will have negative consequences, such as increasing the oil price.

Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker, announced the two supertankers were booked to carry about 2 million barrels of crude from Iran’s Khark Island to China.

Qi Lian San, a large crude carrier anchored near Singapore, was booked to load 270,000 tons of crude at Khark Island from Feb. 3 to Feb. 5 and carry the cargo to China, Clarkson said.

The Chinese oil trader, Zhuhai Zhenrong Co., also booked an unidentified ship owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. to load 265,000 tons of crude in Khark Island on Jan. 29 and sail to the Chinese port city of Ningbo.

Two other ships, Davar and Hoda, which called at an Iranian oil terminal, are heading for China, Bloomberg reported.

Ship-tracking data show Davar is sailing to Ningbo after leaving Iran’s Soroush terminal on Jan. 11, and Hoda is bound for Shui Dong. The National Iranian Tanker Co. owns both very large carriers.

Customs data also showed that China imported 2.4 million metric tons of crude from Iran last month.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers in Brussels agreed to embargo Iranian oil that involved an immediate ban on all new oil contracts with Iran.

Earlier this month, China’s vice foreign minister said his government “opposes imposing pressure and sanctions.”

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Attempts to Bypass the Dollar

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The US has dominated trade for nearly a century. That is coming to an end as its manufacturing sector continues to shrink. Yet the dollar continues to be the world currency, providing numerous advantages for the US that other countries resent.

The US is looked at as a declining power, hopelessly in debt. It is able, through the dollar, to export inflation to other countries.

The world views the US as fiscally and monetarily out of control and unwilling to make the proper, hard economic decisions. There is fear that continuance with the dollar risks massive inflation throughout the world and/or a collapse of  the world’s only international currency.

Fortunately for the US, there is no other fiat currency capable of replacing the dollar — at least now.  The Euro was a hope for awhile, but now it is apparent that the Euro will not survive much longer. The motives for finding an alternative to dollars is strong because the risks (and advantages) are so great.

One approach would be to create an international currency consisting of a basket of other currencies and/or commodities. How likely it is that one could be developed is moot. Suffice to say that there is strong motives on the part of many other countries to come up with such an alternative.

An important article on stirrings in the anti-US dollar and perhaps the beginnings to displace the dollar by Chris Blasi is presented below:

Sovereigns Declare War on U.S. Dollar

BY CHRIS BLASI01/24/2012

Profoundly significant news came out of the Middle East on Monday January 23, 2012. The headline via DEBKAfile* reads:

India to Pay Gold Instead of Dollars for Iranian Oil. Oil and Gold Markets Stunned

Within the body of the report were gleaned these crucial items:

  1. India has become the first buyer of Iranian oil to agree to settle purchases in gold.
  2. China is expected to follow India’s move.
  3. Approximately 40% of Iran’s total oil exports are consumed by India and China.
  4. Settling oil transactions in gold enables Tehran to circumvent the EU’s upcoming freeze on Iran’s Central Bank assets and the oil embargo announced Monday January 23rd.
  5. Due to the magnitude of the transactions proposed, the price of gold is expected to rise and the Dollar’s value depressed on world markets.
  6. The EU currently accounts for approximately 20% of Iran’s oil exports.
  7. The transactions are to be facilitated via two Indian state owned banks and a Turkish state owned bank.
  8. Financial mechanisms have also been implemented between Iran and Russia for the settlement of oil purchases in currencies other than the US Dollar.

Iranian Crisis Evolving into Dollar Hegemony and Western Power Challenge

At this point in time it is unnecessary to rehash the dismal state of fiscal and monetary affairs that plague the US. Excluding the willfully delusional, it is clear to any honest analyst that the gargantuan debts of the US can never be paid in full with dollars retaining current purchasing power. Further, with the insatiable need to issue exponentially growing volumes of debt to keep the welfare/warfare state hobbling along, who would willingly continue to finance such a debacle? All that’s left to supports this failing fiat experiment is an entrenched, yet deteriorating, reserve currency system to which there has not been a functioning alternative to date.

It is because of this macroeconomic environment, and the policies that gutted a previously productive goods producing economy, that the only tool left for the US to maintain the status quo is to defend at all costs the Dollar’s reserve currency status….and its foundational component the Petro Dollar. This is most likely the motive behind the quickening drumbeat to go to war with Iran. If keeping the world safe from rogue states with nuclear capabilities were the sole motive, than why have North Korea and Pakistan been given a pass?

Unlike the invasion of Iraq, whereby that oil rich nation had no allies come to its aid or at least none with the wherewithal to dare protest in a meaningful way, the Iranian crisis is developing into a far more serious geopolitical happening. Just as most wars are a smokescreen for behind the scenes power plays between the various ruling class, the events unfolding in the Persian Gulf look to be such in spades. What will shock the world when the actions reported above are fully digested is the choosing of sides and the clandestine development of alternative financial mechanisms by those nations previously believed not ready or unable to challenge the Western elites.

Following years of speculation as to the fate of the US Dollar and the lengths to which Western bankers would go to defend the system that serves them so well, could today’s headlines be the proverbial ringing bell? Unfortunately, the actions of most bankrupt and overextended empires is to march its people into a calamitous war. As with all historically recorded futile endeavors in defending the indefensible (i.e. a debt based paper monetary system), the most likely financial survivor will again be gold.

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Are George Soros, The IMF And The World Bank Purposely Trying To Scare The Living Daylights Out Of Us?

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Over the past couple of weeks, George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank have all issued incredibly chilling warnings about the possibility of an impending economic collapse.  Considering the power and the influence that Soros, the IMF and the World Bank all have over the global financial system, this is very alarming.  So are they purposely trying to scare the living daylights out of us?  Soros is even warning of riots in the streets of America.  Unfortunately, way too often top global leaders say something in public because they want to “push” events in a certain direction.  Do George Soros and officials at the IMF and World Bank hope to prevent a worldwide financial collapse by making these statements, or are other agendas at work?  We may never know.  But one thing is for sure – many of the top financial officials in the world are using language that is downright “apocalyptic”, and that is not a good sign for the rest of 2012.

Right now, George Soros is saying things that he has never said before.  Just check out what George Soros recently told Newsweek….

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

Later on in that same article, Soros is quoted as saying that we could soon see the U.S. government using “strong-arm tactics” to crack down on rioting in the streets of major U.S. cities….

As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

It almost sounds like George Soros is anticipating the same kind of a breakdown of society that many survivalists and preppers are getting ready for.

So how bad are things going to get?

Well, George Soros is publicly warning that the coming financial crisis could end up being even worse than 2008.  Just check out the following quotes from him that appeared in a recent Businessweek article….

Billionaire investor George Soros said Europe’s sovereign-debt woes are “more serious” than the financial crisis of 2008 and that the world faces the prospect of a “vicious circle” of deflation.

“We have a more dangerous situation now than in 2008,” Soros, 81, said in response to a question at an event in the southern Indian city of Bangalore today. “The crisis in Europe is more serious than the crash of 2008.”

But George Soros is not the only one issuing these kinds of warnings.

Once again, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has made a speech in which she openly warned that we are heading for a repeat of the “1930s”.

She told an audience in Berlin on Monday that the globe is facing “a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand”.

During the speech she called for a trillion more dollars to support financially troubled governments, and she made the following statement….

“It is not about saving any one country or region. It is about saving the world from a downward economic spiral.”

As I wrote about the other day, the World Bank has also been using apocalyptic language about the global financial situation.  In a shocking new report, the World Bank revised GDP growth estimates for 2012 downward very sharply, it warned that Europe could be facing financial collapse at any time, and it instructed the rest of the world to “prepare for the worst.”

The lead author of the report, Andrew Burns, said that the “importance of contingency planning cannot be stressed enough” and that if there is a major financial crisis in Europe the entire globe will be deeply affected….

“An escalation of the crisis would spare no-one. Developed- and developing-country growth rates could fall by as much or more than in 2008/09.”

So should we be alarmed that George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank are all proclaiming that a financial nightmare could be just around the corner?

Of course we should be.

Whether their motives are pure or not, they are telling the truth about the global financial situation in this case.  As I have written about so frequently, there are a whole host of signs that indicate that we could be on the verge of a major global recession.

A lot of folks in the investment world are warning that hard times are about to hit us as well.  For example, the following is what legendary investor Joseph Granville recently told Bloomberg Television….

Joseph Granville, whose “sell everything” call in 1981 sparked a decline in U.S. stocks, said the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) will drop toward 8,000 this year because of waning momentum and volume.

“Volume precedes prices,” Granville, 88, a technical analyst who has been publishing the Granville Market Letter from Kansas City, Missouri for about 50 years, said in an interview on “Street Smart” on Bloomberg Television. “You are seeing much lower volume. That tells you that prices are going to go much lower, much lower than most people think possible and very few people have projected.”

Considering all of the warnings out there, it only seems prudent to prepare for the worst.

But unfortunately, a lot of people are just going to leave their holdings sitting out there like a dead duck, and they are going to be absolutely devastated by the coming financial tsunami.

Those that believe that the United States can somehow escape the coming financial storm don’t really know what they are talking about.

In fact, there was very troubling news for the U.S. dollar just the other day.  It was announced that India will start paying for its oil from Iran in a currency other than U.S. dollars.

But this is just another sign that the rest of the world is starting to reject the U.S. dollar.  For decades, the U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency of the world and this has given us a tremendous advantage.  Unfortunately for us, that is now changing.

U.S. newspapers are not talking about what is going on, but mainstream newspapers in Europe are.  Right now, some of the biggest countries in the world are working on plans to quit using U.S. dollars for the buying and selling of oil.

The following comes from a recent article in The Independent….

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

This is a very big deal, and if this gets pulled off it is going to have devastating consequences for the U.S. dollar and for the U.S. economy.

But of course when it comes to troubles for the U.S. financial system, there are a whole host of issues that could be talked about.

An environment for a “perfect storm” is developing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.

Fortunately, there are some researchers out there that are working hard to sound the alarm bells.  For example, the following quote comes from a recent interview with Gerald Celente….

I believe that we have to watch out for something along the lines of an economic martial law. The European system is in collapse. The financial system in the United States is just as tenuous, if not more, and I believe they will not admit there will be a financial crash but rather they will use a geo-political issue to get the people in a state of fear and hysteria whereby they’ll then call a bank holiday or devaluation of the currency, or a hyperinflation of the currency, and blame it on somebody else.

It would be wise to listen to what experts such as Gerald Celente are saying.

Now is the time to take stock of where you are at and to make plans for the coming year.

Just because things have “always” been a certain way does not mean that they will continue to be that way.

Just because certain things have “always” worked in the past does not mean that they will continue to work in the future.

Our world is experiencing fundamental changes.  It is changing at a faster pace than we have ever seen before.  The way that we all live our lives five or ten years from now will be vastly different from how we live our lives today.

This will be a very challenging time to be alive, but it is also going to be a very exciting time to be alive.

So what do all of you think is going to happen in 2012?

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Norway: Kleven Maritime Receives Contract for Rem Fortune Renovation

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Kleven Maritime will carry out an extensive remodeling of the offshore vessel Rem Fortune, from the platform service vessel into the multi-purpose support vessel.

The vessel is currently placed at Myklebust Yard in Gursken, where it should be mounted with a 100-ton offshore crane. Reconstruction also includes installation of the helideck, opening of the moon-pool, installation of the 8-ton auxiliary crane, anti-heeling system and the ROV equipment. The vessel will be ready for delivery in mid-March.

Myklebust Yard is a combination yard that rates on both a new construction and repair and service operations, and the activity at the yard is very high these days, with five boats at the dock. Kleven Maritime has invested 70 million in new dock coming to Myklebust Yard in the spring. This is a strategically important initiative that sets the yard in a position to take on even greater after-market work for the offshore industry. The dock can take vessels up to 170 meters in length and 28.5 meters in width and has a lifting capacity of 15 000 tons, which is about double the current capacity of Myklebust Yard.

There is an agreement for the sale of Rem Fortune from Rem Offshore ASA to Marine Platforms Limited.

Related articles

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Iran pays Statoil loan with gas

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Norway’s Statoil receives regular amounts of butane and propane from Iran as its creditor, according to reports.

The Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) deliveries are to cover the country’s National Iranian Oil Company loan from Statoil.

Press spokesperson Bård Glad Pedersen tells NA24, “that is correct, and this is in line with the original contract’s repayment options.”

Ban on oil

The EU announced, Monday, it was to impose a total ban on oil imports from Iran effective 01 July. Statoil says it will be raising the matter with Norwegian authorities.

However, Mr Glad Pedersen underlines that debt repayments relating to already-completed contracts in the form of petroleum product are exempted.

“Our assessment, therefore, is that we will still be able to receive these even after the sanctions come into force. We will continue our dialogue with Norwegian authorities to ensure this is understood,” he concludes.

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