There is a high degree of uncertainty in predicting future commodity prices that baffles those engaged in monetary policies, academics, economists, and the everyday consumer.

High frequency trading (see Direct Edge 2005-) using proprietary algorithmic trading programs accounted for over 25% of all shares traded by the buy side by 2009. In 2009 73% of US equity trading volume was attributed to the activities of a small number of high-frequency trading firms, including divisions of Goldman Sachs and UBS but many more obscure, startup firms (with only 12-100 employees) such as Archelon, EWT Trading, Getco and Peak6 (Heires, Katherine. 2009-07-20Code Green: Goldman Sachs & UBS Cases Heighten Need to Keep Valuable Digital Assets From Walking Out The Door. Millions in Trading Profits May Depend On It Securities Industry News). The entire event/analysis/action cycle has been reduced for traders with the fastest machines to a few milliseconds. Fast computing not rational decision-making counts. Arnuk and Saluzzi (2009) call these activities toxic trade and claim that the high frequency trader seize the best deals at the expense of real investors whose machines are not as fast.

NYSE specialists no longer provide price stability. With the advent NYSE Hybrid, specialist market share has dropped from 80% to 25%.

There is a saturation of equity quotes with the entire event/analysis/action cycle has been reduced for some traders to a few milliseconds.

CQS Capacity (Quotes per Second) capacity was increased was increased by 33% to 1 million quotes/second on July 4, 2010 and on July 5th there was a micro-burst of activity. July 5th was 33% more active than any trading day in history.] CQS is already planning to increase capacity an additional 25% in October 2011. How long before that limit is hit ? We think it will be hit the very next trading day. If 3 years ago someone told us that equity quote traffic rates for NYSE, AMEX and ARCA issues would exceed 1 Million/second (not even counting Nasdaq stocks), we would have thought the market would have entered the greatest bull or bear market ever known. Instead, you can’t even recognize from a 1 minute chart where these bursts of out-of-control quote traffic rates occur. And when they do occur, a significant percentage of those quotes will have already expired before they even leave the exchange network. At these rates of growth, we will no longer have a diversity of trading participants with accurate market data, and regulators will have no hope of ever piecing together what happened after the next disaster. It took the SEC five months just to assemble equity data to analyse the flash crash [of May 6, 2010]. When the next disaster strikes, they will have to contend with 5 to 10 times more data (“Equity Quote Saturation” Nanex).”

“The market itself creates events in the form of imbalances of supply and demand that could be of value to traders who are fast enough to respond to them. There is no doubt that being faster than others entails private advantage, but is it socially beneficial? The first mover in the case of fundamental news imposes costs on other traders, and high adverse selection costs could cause market failure. The fast traders that take advantage of market events could provide valuable liquidity to those seeking immediacy and hence enhance market quality, but could also step ahead of large orders in the book, thereby imposing costs on other liquidity providers (as described in the specialist context by Seppi (1997)) (Hasbrouck, Joel; Saar, Gideon. “Low-Latency Trading“. p. 1. Retrieved 18 July 2011).”

Canadian-born, Harvard-educated economist Dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Roger L. Martin argued in his publication entitled Fixing the Game: How Runaway Expectations Broke the Economy, and How to Get Back to Reality (2011-05) “The mayhem in our capital markets is ultimately the unfortunate effect of tightly tying together two different markets: the real market and the expectations market.” In her article printed in The Atlantic Lane Wallace (2009-07-07) admired Martin’s use of an easy-to-understand football analogy to explain how flawed economic theories about compensation and investment contributed to the 2008 melt-down on Wall Street. I have been unable to find the original Financial Times article to which Wallace referred but Martin has used the example of the New England Patriots’ stellar 16-0 record in their 2007 winning streak in Fixing the Game (2011) and this section is posted on Huffington Post. In it Martin explained how MVP Quarterback Tom Brady, the head coach and the team’s superlative 2007 performance was perfect even in measurable “real” terms. He uses Brady’s real performance value as an analogy for real stock market values and real embodied customers. He contrasts this with the speculators’ expectations market based on the point spread. The Patriots’ performance for example was only mediocre because the Patriots covered the point spread only ten times. Martin explained that “In betting vernacular, a favored team covers the spread when it wins the game by more than the point spread. In this case, the point spread is the moral equivalent of the stock price, in that it captures the consensus expectations of all bettors (Huffington Post).” Martin argued that it is impossible to meet bettors’ expectations forever and expectations grow to unattainable levels in both football and the stock market. In “American capitalism, CEOs are compensated directly and explicitly on how they perform against the point spread; that is, against expectations (Martin 2011 cited in Huffington Post).” And CEOs increasingly focus on managing share price over the short run something that is easier to manipulate. Shareholders are better off however when the focus of their investment managers is on the long term, on increasing share price more or less forever. In this horse-race spread-covering betting scenario, the interests of shareholders and executives are not aligned.

In 2009 (Stiglitz Commission 2009).” warned that financial speculation exacerbated the mortgage meltdown, the phenomenal increase in the price of energy including oil. As the price of energy increases countries’ purchasing power decreased. “The transfer of income from those who suffered from these price increases to those who benefited weakened global aggregate demand and contributed to the global imbalances which played an important role in the crisis (Stiglitz Commission 2009).”

There are those who claim that perceptions not realities create oil prices (Dicker 2011:309). He argued that the illogical outcome of BP disaster (the decrease in the price of oil when the supply was less than demand) is another example of the way in which oil markets and prices are influenced by quick analysis of traders and investors looking to benefit from a well-placed bet not by legitimate changes in fundamental supply.

While gurus such as Bernstein (2000) argue that gambling is for anyone but speculation is for professionals, the chaos and unpredictability of the current global economy have been linked to a growing culture of gambling in futures trading rather than level-headed professionalism. Gamblers create risk simply by placing a bet; professional speculators “transfer risk from the hedgers to the speculators” and it therefore called risk management instead of gambling.

“It rained last night so the price of soy beans will be down today.” Although the basis of fundamental analysis in economics is supply and demand, the actual fundamental analysis of specific markets that might generate accurate price predictions are complicated as numbers of factors overlap and massive quantities of data need to be considered. The simple equation involves how much of a commodity or service are buyers willing to pay at a given time and place. There used to be a correlation between price and consumption. Factors that impact on price of commodities include the state of the economy (local, regional, national and international – inflationary, recessionary with rising or falling employment), availability of alternate products or services, storage possibilities, weather, seasonality, price cycles, price trends, government subsidies, political influences, protectionist attitudes, international tensions, fear of war, hoarding, stockpiling, demand for raw materials (sugar, petroleum, copper, platinum, coffee, cocoa), currency fluctuations, health of the economy, level of unemployment, housing starts. Most technical systems are not effective in making traders money.

In examining implications regarding monetary policies the US Federal Reserve Board theoretical analyses often focus on: “commodity prices and inflation, the role of labor costs in the price-setting process, issues arising from the necessity of making policy in real time, and the determinants and effects of changes in inflation expectations (Bernanke 2008-06-09).”

While some argue that “policymakers care only about expected economic outcomes and not the uncertainty surrounding those outcomes” Pesenti and Groen claim that policymakers are concerned about the risks to their projections as well as the projections themselves (Pesenti and Groen 2011-03)?” Should and how does this affect the way in which policies are made?

Selected Timeline of Critical Events

2011-08-09. “In recent days, the high-frequency operation at Tradeworx Inc., a Red Bank, N.J. firm, juggled its largest daily volumes since its 2009 launch, resulting in some of its most profitable days on record, according to its founder, Manoj Narang. The reason: High-speed firms’ profits are highly correlated with increased volatility in the market. The more stock are rising and falling, the better they are able to make profits on the difference between buy and sell prices. A gauge of volatility, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, rose more than 100% from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8. (Patterson, Scott. 2011-08-09. “High Frequency Traders Win in Market Bloodbath.” Wall Street Journal Blog Marketbeat.)”

2011-08-13 ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: “[T] he issue of what’s called high-frequency trading and electronic trading that she just mentioned is absolutely right. The reason why you’re seeing these huge gains and huge losses is because there are people who are making these decisions based on the headlines, but then there are computers, there’s machines that are effectively taking over and exacerbating the ups and the downs, because what they’re looking to do is — these are machines with algorithms that are looking to pick up pennies, lots of pennies in many instances. But they’re looking for one stock to go up and one stock to go down, and they see different correlations. And that’s really exacerbating the big moves in volatility we’re seeing in the stock market these days.” CATHERINE MANN: [The] ordinary investor, the person on Main Street is affected by these gyrations. [The ordinary investor] feels a disconnect between the big profits that some Wall Street, the big financials or non-financials companies get by trading on this high frequency and the ups and the downs, and the average person on Main Street. “The disconnect there has been there for a while. It’s been worsened because of the lack of credit being extended to Main Street, as — as — even though the banks have gotten better, in better shape, they have not extended any credit to Main Street. And so that disconnect is worse. And they really feel like Wall Street is out to get them. And they’re probably right about that (“Uncertainty, Computerized Trading Fuel Wall Street’s Wild Ride.”)

2011-07-07 Melloy, John. 2011-07-07. “New Way High-Speed Traders Get Edge on Investors.” Fast Money. CNBC.com

2011 High-frequency trading firms using high-frequency techniques (software-based mechanisms: high frequency algorithmic trading) earned $12.9 billion in profit in the last two years (2009-2011), according to TABB Group, a specialist on the markets.

2011-07-18 The price of gold climbed to c.”$1604 an ounce, putting the precious metal on track for a 10th-straight rise and another record settlement. The U.S. dollar strengthened against the euro but declined versus the yen. Crude-oil prices fell below $95 a barrel (Wall Street Journal).”

2011-07-10 Anderlini, Jamil. “Trade data show China economy slowing.” “In a sign that industrial activity in the country was moderating, imports of key commodities like crude oil, aluminium and iron ore all fell in June from a month earlier. Crude oil imports fell to the lowest level in eight months and were down 11.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier and, while copper imports rebounded in June, they were significantly down on 12 months ago.”

2011-07-08 U.S. stocks slumped. Crude-oil futures fell 2.9% and traded just below $96 a barrel (Wall Street Journal).

2011-07-04Speculators unburned.” The Economist. Oil traders are free to bid for it. And it seems they did. The Department for Energy says its auction was heavily oversubscribed with bids from more than 90 parties. For reference, there are 148 refineries in America, but most are owned by a few major players such as Exxon, who would do the actual bidding. Traders who anticipate the oil price will rise, and have the capacity to store oil, can buy physical stocks now, and sell oil forward. As long as the price rises enough to cover storage costs, they will turn a profit. If a trader was able to purchase West Texas Intermediate—the oil held in America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)—at the spot price on June 24th, they would already be sitting on a tidy profit.

2011-07-04 Capacity (Quotes per Second) CQS capacity was increased by 33% to 1 million quotes/second. On July 5th, 2011 there was a micro-burst of activity: 33% more active than any trading day in history (Nanex Research).

2011-06-27 “The London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) has launched a super-fast trading service in its latest bid to court more business from high-frequency trading (HFT) firms.” (Jeff, Luke. 2011-06-27. “LSE makes latest high-frequency move.” London:Reuters.

2011-06 “A recent report produced by a joint advisory committee of the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission urged the SEC to work with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the exchanges “to develop effective testing of sponsoring broker-dealer risk management controls and supervisory procedures.The concern from Washington prompted a group of 12 brokerages to collaborate on a set of risk guidelines intended for adoption across the industry. Working under the aegis of FIX Protocol Limited, the group recently published a checklist of 13 risk controls it hopes will deter the acceptance of orders that might disrupt the marketplace. FIX Protocol is a pan-industry group that promotes and supports electronic trading through the ubiquitous FIX communications standard. The guidelines devised by the members of the FPL Risk Management Working Group focus strictly on algorithmic and direct-market-access orders for cash equities. The members include the nine largest trading firms, which account for the vast majority of industry orders (“New Checks Unlikely to Satisfy SEC.” Traders Magazine).”

2011-06-29

2011-06-28 “Futures advanced a second day as Brent crude oil climbed. Gasoline and heating oil rose as crude and equities gained and the dollar weakened against the euro.”(Powell 2011-06-28).

2011-06-23 In its commitment to keep oil markets well-supplied the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that the 28 IEA member countries for the third time in the IEA history, they would release 60 million barrels of oil (2 million barrels of oil per day from their emergency stocks over an initial period c. June-July 15) to offset the ongoing disruption of oil supplies from Libya. By May 30 132 mb of Libyan light, sweet crude oil was not available to the market and analysts expect this to continue through 2011. This supply disruption has been underway for some time and its effect has become more pronounced as it has continued. The normal seasonal increase in refiner demand expected for this summer will exacerbate the shortfall further. Greater tightness in the oil market threatens to undermine the fragile global economic recovery (International Energy Agency 2011-06-23).

2011-06-16 Fletcher, Sam. “Energy prices tumble; Brent-WTI spread at 3-month low.” PennEnergy- Energy News. West Texas Intermediate to “the weakest level” since March, said Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix, Zug, Switzerland. In Houston, analysts at Raymond James & Associates Inc. said the European debt crisis and continued worries of a weakening US economy …

2011-06-15 Britain’s top banks will have to protect their retail business from investment banking activities (casino banking) after “the government backed a plan to overhaul the industry and shield taxpayers from future losses (more).” See Financial Times also.

2011 Debates in the UK on how to make our financial institutions safer include ring-fencing utility operations from casino banking, new capital requirements and living wills. Megabanks (Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and Santander) were rescued by taxpayers as well as through worsening savings and loan rates. Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-2004841/SUNDERLAND-ON-SATURDAY-Banks-need-customers-queue.html#ixzz1QbQ38DAGSee Sunderland “The scale of the taxpayer bailout of the banking system has led to lengthening dole queues and severe cuts to public spending (more).”

2011 Megabank Barclays was ordered by the Financial Services Authority to pay a fine of £7m and to repay up to £60m to mainly elderly customers who had been duped into gambling their savings on the stock market. Read more

2011-06-17 In the Alberta oil sands, oil prices tripled from their 2009 lows. Drilling activity was on the upswing. Unemployment was falling and oilsands investment was surging (Read more)

“When you see oil prices spiking by $2, $3 or $5 a day, that’s not a situation Alberta wants to be in because it’s not driven by (market) fundamentals, it’s being driven by speculators”.

2011-05-02 through 2011-05-07 The price of silver dropped 25% in just four trading days.

2011-04 Investors pushed the price of silver up 57% in 2011 before a massive correction started on May 2, 2011.

2011-03 In the wake of the U.S. real estate collapse, declining returns in the bond market, worries about a global slowdown and fears that after a nice run, equities have nowhere to go but down, big hedge funds and other sophisticated market pros have been loading up on cotton, corn, soybean oil and other soft commodities. Milner, Brian.

2011-03. “Soaring commodity prices at mercy of demand – from speculators.” Globe and Mail.

2011-03 A rally in commodity prices resurrected inflationary threats (Pesenti and Groen 2011-03).

2011-01-12 American International Group, which received a massive bailout in 2008, claimed it expected to complete a recapitalization that would allow it to fully pay back the government (more).

2011-02 Coffee prices: In New York, the benchmark May futures contract hit $2.784 a pound, their highest level since $3.40 in 1977, an all-time record. During the past 12 months alone, those prices rose by 145%. Last week the International Coffee Organisation said the price had hit a 14-year high. By July 2011 “Coffee futures are up 53% over the past year, although the front-month contract for July delivery fell 1.9%, or 4.8 cents, in Friday to close at $2.5255 a pound.”

2011-06-01 Investors should prepare for renewed swings in prices of commodities (oil, natural gas, orange juice) “swings expected after weather forecasters predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season.” Blais 2011-06-01 .” Financial Times. London.

2010-12 From 1977-2010 the compound annual sharehold value continues to decrease compared to pre-shareholder-value era (1933-1977) (Martin 2011 cited in Huffington Post).” Companies tend to boost earnings per share without creating value but gross-margin return on inventory investment drives longer term value creation. CEOs need to be held accountable for long-term performance by linking compensation to such metrics as multiyear stock performance. see Lek.

2010-09 Investment banker multimillionaire 59-year-old American Bob Diamond was appointed as head of Barclays megabank raising concerns that the Treasury should separate traditional retail banking from casino banking. Casino banking can lead to potential massive profits or loss depending on the level of risk of investments. Vince Cable: “Diamond, with his £20m bonuses, is the unacceptable face of this bonus-driven banking,” Oakeshott said. “This highlights the need to break-up and de-risk the British banking system.” Barclays appointment highlights ‘casino’ banking fears Business secretary says Barclays’ appointment of Bob Diamond illustrates dangers of having retail banks with massively profitable investment arms attached to them.

2010—08-16 The CFTC sanctioned ConAgra Trade Group, Inc. (CTG) $12 Million for causing a non-bona fide price to be reported in the NYMEX Crude Oil futures contract. On January 2, 2008, CTG was the first to purchase NYMEX crude oil futures contracts at the then-historic price of $100. As a result of CTG’s effort to be the first to trade at the $100 level, CTG caused a non-bona fide price to be reported, according to the CFTC order. (CFTC Press Release 5873-10, August 16, 2010) (more).

2010-07-21 President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill. “Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act amends the Commodity Exchange Act to establish a comprehensive new regulatory framework for swaps and security-based swaps. The legislation is enacted to reduce risk, increase transparency, and promote market integrity within the financial system by, among other things: 1) providing for the registration and comprehensive regulation of swap dealers and major swap participants; 2) imposing clearing and trade execution requirements on standardized derivative products; 3) creating robust recordkeeping and real-time reporting regimes; and 4) enhancing the Commission’s rulemaking and enforcement authorities with respect to, among others, all registered entities and intermediaries subject to the Commission’s oversight. On the same day, the CFTC releases a list of 30 areas of rulemaking to implement the Dodd-Frank Act. (CFTC Press Releases 5855-10 and 5856-10, July 21, 2010) (more). The Dodd-Frank Act included the Volcker Rule which requires that “regulators implement regulations for banks, their affiliates and holding companies, to prohibit proprietary trading, investment in and sponsorship of hedge funds and private equity funds, and to limit relationships with hedge funds and private equity funds. Non-bank financial institutions supervised by the Fed also have restrictions on proprietary trading and hedge fund and private equity investments. The Council will study and make recommendations on implementation to aid regulators (more).”

2010-05-24 A YouTube video of High Frequency Trading explained by William Arnuk, the 13-year-old son of Sal Arnuk, who works for the HFT research firm, Themis Trading.

2010-05 With the flow from BP’s Deepwater Horizon huge oil spill unstaunched both stock and oil markets crashed with the brunt of the losses in the energy sector. Oil prices fell. (Dicker 2011:305).

2010—05-06 Major stock indexes and stock index futures experience a “flash crash”, a brief but severe drop in prices, falling more than 5% in a matter of minutes, only to recover a short time later. Dow Jones industrials fell roughly 900 points, only to quickly recover. Some individual securities experience more volatility than the stock indexes. (Statement by SEC and CFTC, May 6, 2010). (more) The joint CFTC/SEC report on the “flash crash” of May 6, 2010, examined the role of high-frequency trading in this extreme episode (U. S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2010). Whether or not a single large order caused the “flash crash” in May 2010, as the Securities and Exchange Commission has alleged that a single large order may have caused the crash and has placed pressure on brokers to make sure they don’t toss any oversize or out-of-control orders into the market (Traders Magazine). “The regulators’ official October report on the 15-minute plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on May 6, 2010, blamed a liquidity crisis that followed a bad trade in S&P 500 futures. Officials have since taken action to prevent a similar catastrophe by instituting circuit breakers that halt individual stocks in the S&P 500 after a 10 percent move (Melloy 2011-07-07).”

2010—04-06 It took $20 trillion of public funds over a period of two-and-a-half years to lift the total world market capitalization of listed companies by $16.4 trillion. This means some $3.6 trillion, or 17.5%, had been burned up by transmission friction. Government intervention failed to produce a dollar-for-dollar break-even impact on battered markets, let alone generate any multiplier effect, which in normal times could be expected to be between nine and 11 times. In the meantime, with the exception of China’s, the real global economy continues to slide downward, with rising unemployment and underemployment. The massive government injection of new money managed to stabilize world equity markets by January 2010, but only at 73.5% of its peak value in October 2007. It still left the credit markets around the world dangerously anemic and the real economy operating on intensive care and life support measures from government. This is because the bailout and stimulus money failed to land on the demand side of the economy, which has been plagued by overcapacity fueled by inadequate workers’ income, masked by excessive debt, and by a drastic reversal of the wealtheffect on consumer demand from the bursting of the debt bubble. The bursting of the debt bubble destroyed the wealth it buoyed, but it left the debt that fueled the bubble standing as liability in the economy. Much of the new government money came from adding to the national debt, which taxpayers will have to pay back in future years. This money went to bail out distressed banks and financialinstitutions, which used it to profit from global “carry trade” speculation, as hot money that exploited interest rate arbitrage trades between economies. The toxic debts have remained in the global economy at face value, having only been transformed from private debts to public debts to prevent total collapse of the private sector. The debt bubble has been turned into a dense debt black hole of intense financial gravity the traps all light from appearing at the end of the recovery tunnel.(Lui, Henry C.K. 2010—04-06. “Bailouts, Stimulus Packages and Jobless Recovery: The Crisis of Wealth Destruction. Part I).”

2010-04-20 BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire resulted in oil spill.

2010-03 Michael Lewis published his book entitled The Big Short in which he returned “to his financial roots to excavate the crisis of 2007–2008, employing his trademark technique of casting a microcosmic lens on the personal histories of several Wall Street outsiders who were betting against the grain—to shed light on the macrocosmic tale of greed and fear.” “Lewis is a capable guide into the world of CDOs, subprime mortgages, head-in-the-sand investments, inflated egos–and the big short.” Lewis provides “a savvy assessment of the wisdom of the financial bailout and where-are-they-now updates on the book’s various heroes and villains.” (more)

2010—01-14 The “CFTC votes at an open meeting to publish in the Federal Register a proposal to set position limits for futures and option contracts in the major energy markets. (CFTC Press Release 5771-10, January 7, 2010) (more).”

2010-01 Organizations “representing the electric and natural gas industries and serving nearly all energy customers in the United States, support the goals of the Administration and Congress to improve transparency and reduce systemic risk in over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives markets. As the Senate considers financial reform legislation, [they argued] that it preserve the ability of companies to access critical OTC energy derivatives products and markets. engaged in off-market trading for oil which is unregulated. Estimates for the OTC derivative market for all assets range upward of $600 trillion. See (Edison Electric Institute (EEI). 2010-01. “OTC Derivatives Reform: Energy Sector Impacts.”).

2009-12-17 “Automated market makers (AMM) co-locate their servers in the NASDAQ or the NYSE building, right next to the exchanges’ servers. AMMs already have faster servers than most institutional and retail investors. But because they are co-located, their servers
can react even faster.” “According to Traders Magazine the number of firms that co-locate at NASDAQ has doubled over the last year (Arnuk, Sal L.; Saluzzi, Joseph. 2009-12-17. “Toxic Equity Trading Order Flow on Wall Street: The Real Force Behind the Explosion in Volume and Volatility.” A Themis Trading LLC White Paper.)

2009-10-08High Frequency Trading Technology: a TABB Anthology.” TABB reported that software capable of electronic routing and execution based on algorithms account for more than 25% of all shares traded by the buy side today. A relatively few high frequency proprietary trading firms experienced a meteoric rise and now wield far greater influence on the markets today than most people recognize.

2009-10-30 Market analysts argued that oil markets were no longer tied to supply and demand fundamentals. They were concerned with the extremely high correlation between crude oil prices and US currency (“Flood 2009-10-30).

2009-08-06 Computer-based algorithmic programs carry out transactions in 400 microseconds which is 1000 times faster than the human eye. Few ordinary investors are aware of or have access to this frenetic, technology-driven world of high-frequency trading which accounted for 50% of daily volume in US stocks, up from estimates of 30 per cent in 2005 (Mackenzie, Michael; Grant, Jeremy. 2009-08-06. “The dash to flash.” Financial Times.)

2009-07-20. Goldman Sachs and UBS filed charges against former employees they allege stole proprietary computer code key to their high-speed trading programs, now the most tactical and strategic weapons on Wall Street (Heires, Katherine. 2009-07-20Code Green: Goldman Sachs & UBS Cases Heighten Need to Keep Valuable Digital Assets From Walking Out The Door. Millions in Trading Profits May Depend On It Securities Industry News).”

2009-03 UBS filed papers “charging three ex-employees with “misappropriation of trade secrets,” specifically the misappropriation of 25,000 lines of source code for the firm’s high-speed, algorithmic trading programs (Heires, Katherine. 2009-07-20Code Green: Goldman Sachs & UBS Cases Heighten Need to Keep Valuable Digital Assets From Walking Out The Door. Millions in Trading Profits May Depend On It Securities Industry News).”

2009-07-03. Goldman Sachs brought charges “against a former vice president for equity strategy and computer programmer on July 3 for allegedly copying 32 megabytes of the bank’s trading codes and uploading them to an encrypted server before sending them to a home computer and other
devices (Heires, Katherine. 2009-07-20Code Green: Goldman Sachs & UBS Cases Heighten Need to Keep Valuable Digital Assets From Walking Out The Door. Millions in Trading Profits May Depend On It Securities Industry News).”

2009-06 Signs of an approaching global economic recovery re-emerged (Pesenti and Groen 2011-03).

2009-06-28 Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. “China’s banks are an accident waiting to happen to every one of us.
Fitch Ratings warned that China’s banks have lent up to $1,000bn (£600bn) since December 2008. “Money is leaking instead into Shanghai’s stock casino, or being used to keep bankrupt builders on life support.” This does not help the world economy.

2009-06-26 “The Iraq War and other events which helped set off an increase in the price of oil had a further depressing effect on countries which import energy, including the U.S. The magnitude of the increase in energy prices was exacerbated by financial speculation. This change in the price of energy, accompanied by governments’ attempts to develop alternative bio energy sources contributed to higher food prices. The sharp increase in energy prices thus directly and indirectly brought further reductions in purchasing power within many countries. The transfer of income from those who suffered from these price increases to those who benefited weakened global aggregate demand and contributed to the global imbalances which played an important role in the crisis (Stiglitz Commission 2009).”

2009-05 During “an annual conference of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, top executives from Direct Edge and the NYSE angrily debated the merits of flash orders. Flash orders are a type of high frequency trading. Institutional paying participants get a flash peek at prices before they are released to the broader, public market (more).”

2009-03-24 The Federal Reserve, working closely with the Treasury, made the decision to lend to AIG on September 16, 2008. It was an extraordinary time. Global financial markets were experiencing unprecedented strains and a worldwide loss of confidence. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been placed into conservatorship only two weeks earlier, and Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy the day before. We were very concerned about a number of other major firms that were under intense stress. AIG’s financial condition had been deteriorating for some time, caused by actual and expected losses on subprime mortgage-backed securities and on credit default swaps that AIG’s Financial Products unit, AIG-FP, had written on mortgage-related securities. As confidence in the firm declined, and with efforts to find a private-sector solution unsuccessful, AIG faced severe liquidity pressures that threatened to force it imminently into bankruptcy (more). Claims of bondholders and counterparties were paid at 100 cents on the dollar by taxpayers, without giving taxpayers the rights to the future profits of these institutions. Benefits went to the banks while the taxpayers suffered the costs (more).

2009-02-03 The “U.S. government announced a restructuring of a bailout plan for the troubled insurer American International Group Inc. Monday, extending $30 billion in additional aid to the company. News of the additional funds came as AIG, once the world’s largest insurer, said it lost $61.7 billion in the fourth quarter, the biggest quarterly loss in U.S. corporate history, amid continued financial market turmoil.”

2008-10-18 The President of the United Nations General Assembly, “Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, announced his intention to establish a taskforce of experts to review the workings of the global financial system, including major bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF, and to suggest steps to be taken by Member States to secure a more sustainable and just global economic order (http://www.un.org).” Noted economist and Kerala State Planning Board Vice-Chairman Prabhat Patnaik was included in a four-member high-power task force of the United Nations (U.N.) to recommend reforms of the global financial system. The task force Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System (2009), informally known as the Stiglitz Commission, was headed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

2008 Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the last two investment banks left standing, announced they would become traditional bank holding companies, marking the end of an era for Wall Street (more).

2008-09-16 American International Group, Inc. (AIG) (NYSE: AIG), an American insurance corporation, suffered a liquidity crisis following the downgrade of its credit rating. “The Federal Reserve, working closely with the Treasury, made the decision to lend to AIG on September 16, 2008. It was an extraordinary time. Global financial markets were experiencing unprecedented strains and a worldwide loss of confidence. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been placed into conservatorship only two weeks earlier, and Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy the day before. We were very concerned about a number of other major firms that were under intense stress. AIG’s financial condition had been deteriorating for some time, caused by actual and expected losses on subprime mortgage-backed securities and on credit default swaps that AIG’s Financial Products unit, AIG-FP, had written on mortgage-related securities. As confidence in the firm declined, and with efforts to find a private-sector solution unsuccessful, AIG faced severe liquidity pressures that threatened to force it imminently into bankruptcy (more).”

2008-07 2008 Lehman Brothers failed. Bubble popped and money fled from oil investment. Trading value of oil dropped by 80% (Dicker 2011).

2008 Oil reached $147 a barrel (Dicker 2011).

2008-06 Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke “singled out the role of commodity prices among the main drivers of price dynamics, underscoring the importance for policy of both forecasting commodity price changes and understanding the factors that drive those changes (Pesenti and Groen 2011-03 citing Bernanke).”

2008-04 The macroeconomic outlook changed rapidly and dramatically as the global economy experienced the near-collapse of trade volumes and the associated plunge in commodity prices was the harbinger of pervasive disinflation risks (Pesenti and Groen 2011-03).

2008 In the ten years after Born’ s 1998 proposal, the market in derivatives exploded from $27 trillion to one worth more than $ 600 trillion. By comparison, the entire U.S. economy was worth $ 14 trillion. Hirsch, Michael. 2010. Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street. New Jersey: John Wiley.

2008-06 “NYSE Floor Brokers Get New Tools.” The New York Stock Exchange introduced two new technologies to give brokers on the NYSE trading floor the ability to trade algorithmically and to strengthen the brokers’ ability to locate large sources of liquidity. more

2008-06-17 Ross Levin, a Wall Street NYC hedge fund analyst with Arbiter Partners, who calls himself a “passive speculator in securities” met Lionel Lepine, a member of the Athabaskan Chipewyan First Nation whose family and friends living on the contaminated watershed upriver from the oil sands’ effluence are suffering from unprecedented numbers of cancerous tumours. Levin attended Calgary’s prominent energy investment forum and “found himself in the eye of a growing environmental storm battering Alberta’s oilsands — one of several clashes centred on the energy sector.”
read more | digg story

2008-04-02 – After two decades spent expanding in Britain, the United States and other developed economies, the world’s third biggest bank is shifting its ….. or if the government forces banks to separate their retail arms from investment banking, dubbed “casino banking” by some politicians. .

2008 PM Harper apologized for past treatment of Canada’s First Nations.

2008 Pollution of the Athabaskan River north of the oil sands

2008 Impatient development of nonrenewable resources in the oil sands.

2008-03-24 Reich, Robert B. 2008-03-24. Is the Game About to Stop? American consumers’ buying power was less than the goods and services the U.S. economy is capable of producing. Reich predicted fewer jobs, even less consumption which would lead to even fewer jobs and possible a recession which could become a full-fledged depression. Reich argued that fiscal and monetary policies could perhaps make up for consumers’ lack of buying power. American consumers were already deep in debt, their homes were losing value, their paychecks were shrinking.

2008 Meteoric rise of oil commodities market directly caused by irresponsible speculators playing with volatile, unpredictable hedge funds that play havoc with the market making a fortune for some while destroying economic, social and ecological environments all around them.

2008 Calgary has a high percentage of young millionaires with lots of disposable income. There are also c.4000 homeless people in Calgary, the oil capital of Canada. c. 40% of the homeless are working poor who are unable to afford housing.

2007-10-31 Meredith Whitney, an obscure analyst of financial firms for Oppenheimer Securities “predicted that Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust. It’s never entirely clear on any given day what causes what in the stock market, but it was pretty obvious that on October 31, Meredith Whitney caused the market in financial stocks to crash. By the end of the trading day, a woman whom basically no one had ever heard of had shaved $369 billion off the value of financial firms in the market. Four days later, Citigroup’s C.E.O., Chuck Prince, resigned. In January, Citigroup slashed its dividend (Lewis, Michael. 2008. The End).”

2007-08 Arnuk and Saluzzi argued in their white paper entitled Toxic Equity Trading Order Flow on Wall Street: The Real Force Behind the Explosion in Volume and Volatility” (2009-12-17) that electronic trading, the new for-profit exchanges and ECNs, the NYSE Hybrid and the SEC’s Regulation NMS all came together in unexpected ways in the late summer of 2007. This perfect storm caused the Volatility Index, [stock market volatility index (VIX) "fear gauge" measures the expectation of price movement over the next 30 days. The higher the reading, the more likely stocks are to move in one direction or another] to climb, trading volumes to increase explosively, stock prices and indexes to experience rapid change. “
This has resulted in the proliferation of a new generation of very profitable, high-speed, computerized trading firms and methods that are causing retail and institutional investors to chase artificial prices (Arnuk and Saluzzi 2009-12-17).”

2006-03-07 The merger of NYSE and Archipelago was completed forming the NYSE Group, Inc., a holding company that operates two securities exchanges: the NYSE and NYSE Arca, Inc. They are a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services (more).

2007-06-18 Wolf, Martin. 2007-06-18. “Unfettered finance is fast reshaping the global economy.” “In Rome everything is for sale.”

2007-01 “Both the switch to trading in penny increments in January 2007 and stepped-up activity by high-frequency traders have cut into dealer profits. That has made the dealers less willing to shoulder the entire burden of supporting the exchanges. Almost 90 percent of industry volume is now being traded in options subject to the “penny pilot.” With the minimum trading increment down from 5 cents to 1 cent in the most active options, competition has cut dealer spreads dramatically. “Options Market Makers Catch a Break on Fees as Customers Pick Up.” Traders Magazine

2006 “[F]lash orders – a key focus of the New York Times article, which prompted an almost instant response from politicians and regulators. Flash orders first appeared in US equity markets in 2006, with the launch of the Enhanced Liquidity Provider (ELP) programme by Direct Edge. The idea was that if an order had been sent into Direct Edge and not found a match, it would be shown to other market participants before being routed out to alternative markets, as would normally happen. In theory, more of the orders placed with Direct Edge would be filled, and more customers would have a shot at trading at the price they want (Wood, Duncan. 2009-09-04) “Murky business.” Risk magazine.” tags: Algorithmic Trading Topics: Equities, Trading

2006-2008 Mainly cautious elderly customers were ill-advised by Barclays between 2006 and 2008 to put money into high-risk investments Aviva Global Balanced Income or the Aviva Global Cautious Income funds. No one at Barclays lost jobs even though this scandal cost Barclays shareholders close to £80 million and inflicted untold damage on Barclays’ reputation. Read more

2005-12-15 NYSE Hybrid Market was launched, creating a unique blend of floor-based auction and electronic trading. NYSE Hybrid Market claimed to provide customers with more choices and greater flexibility in accessing the superior liquidity and best prices of the NYSE marketplace. In 2005, the combined dollar value of transaction volumes of the NYSE and NYSE Arca represented approximately $17.8 trillion dollars, which was greater than the value of trading of Nasdaq ($10.1 trillion), the London Stock Exchange ($5.7 trillion), the Tokyo Stock Exchange ($4.4 trillion), Euronext ($2.9 trillion) and the Deutsche Börse ($1.9 trillion) (more)

2005-06-29 70 FR 37496, 37627 Rule 603 — Distribution, Consolidation, and Display of Information with Respect to Quotations for and Transactions in NMS Stocks. “In Regulation Fair Disclosure, the SEC took the stand that firms cannot release fundamental information to a subset of investors before others. On the other hand, Rule 603(a) established a different approach to market data, whereby market centers could sell data directly to subscribers, in effect creating a tiered system of investors with respect to access to information about market events. Rule 603(a) prohibits an SRO or a broker-dealer from supplying the data via direct feeds faster than it supplies it to the Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC) that processes the data and distributes the “tape.” However, the operation of processing and retransmitting data via SIAC appears to add 5 to 10 millisecond and hence subscribers to direct exchange data feeds “see” the information before others who observe the tape (more).”

2005-07-31 CEO, John Thain discussed NYSE plans to merge its floor-based trading system with a relatively new electronic market known as Archipelago creating a hybrid system that allows electronic, instantaneous and anonymous trades. Thain’s former employer, Goldman Sachs, was on both sides of the deal representing the NYSE and Archipelago. Goldman was the biggest NYSE seat holder, owned a specialist firm and 15% of Archipelago “NYSE chief: Hybrid trading system’s the way to go.”

2005Many banks operated proprietary trading units that were organized much like hedge funds. Risk exposures of the hedge-fund industry began to have a material impact on the banking sector, resulting in new sources of systemic risks (more).

2005 High-frequency trading accounted for 30% of daily volume in US stocks (Mackenzie, Michael; Grant, Jeremy. 2009-08-06. “The dash to flash.” Financial Times.)

2005 Direct Edge, a small, electronic trading company opened for business using high-frequency trading (lightning-fast computers equipped with sophisticated and powerful algorithms that are capable of executing trading strategies) and flash orders (literally flashing their orders to their own investors for about a tenth of a second before releasing it to the public market).

2005-07 S&P upgraded China’s sovereign rating by one notch to A-minus, citing China’s aggressive overhaul of its financial sector and improved profitability. China is rated ‘A2′ by Moody’s Investors Service and ‘A’ by Fitch Ratings. Liu, Henry C. K. World Trade Needs a Global Cartel for Labor (OLEC).

2005 According to one study, if the share of world trade and world gross domestic product for non-industrial countries had remained at its 2000 levels, then by 2005, real oil prices would have been 40 percent lower, and real metals prices 10 percent lower, than they actually were (Pain, Koske, and Sollie, 2006).  Since 2005, continued strong growth in the demands for resources of emerging market economies have likely put further considerable upward pressure on commodity prices  (Bernanke 2008-06-09). “

2004 The “demand for oil by members of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has been essentially flat since 2004 (Bernanke 2008-06-09). ”

2004-08-02 Revolutionary electronic trading practices transformed the stock market. The NYSE filed to expand using the NYSE Direct+® system. NYSE Direct+® eliminated limits on the size, timing, and types of orders that can be submitted via Direct+, significantly increasing the level of purely electronic trading at the NYSE.

2004 The “demand for oil by members of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has been essentially flat since 2004 (Bernanke 2008-06-09). “

2003  The price of oil had remained relatively stable from 1990 to 2003 when the price of oil became volatile. The price increased sixfold in five years then lost 80% of its value in 6 months (Dicker 2011:viii).

2001 There was “an overnight change in the trading patterns of the Nasdaq 100 Index which highlighted the competitive impacts of the SEC reforms and foreshadowed the dominance of the high frequency traders and all-electronic marketplaces. At the time, the ETF for the Nasdaq 100 Index (then known as the QQQ) was the most actively traded security and was primarily traded on the American Stock Exchange which utilized a manual floor-based specialist system. Using ATSs, the high frequency traders began using their efficient automated trading systems to narrow the quoted spreads in the QQQ from several pennies down to tenths of a penny, saving investors millions in the process (Traders) .”

Within months, investors voted with their feet and made the electronic markets that featured the liquidity and narrower spreads of the high frequency traders the dominant venues for the QQQ. Investors never looked back. Ultimately, the NYSE and the Nasdaq Stock Market were compelled to purchase these electronic markets that catered to high frequency traders (Archipelago was purchased by the NYSE and INET by the Nasdaq Stock Market). The traditional, uncompetitive Wall Street market maker model was replaced and the exchanges were transformed to open, fair and transparent electronic marketplaces.

2000 More than 90 foreign futures exchanges emerged with the ever-increasing demand for new financial instruments “to hedge against fluctuating interest rates, changing foreign exchange rates and institutional securities portfolios (Bernstein 2000:46).

2000 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) trades futures in livestock futures, currency futures, interest rate futures, stock index futures (Bernstein 2000:70).

1999 The most actively traded future contracts were interest rates, futures, stock index futures, energy futures, currency futures and agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:72).

1998 Long Term Capital Management collapsed.

1998Security and Exchange Commission ruling allowed electronic communication networks (ECN’s for short) to trade equities in competition with the traditional exchanges. New technologies made the automation possible resulting in the development of high frequency trading: Lightening-quick computers, aided by powerful algorithms, buy and sell stocks based on price or other markers (more).

1998 Brooksley Born, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission declared that the unregulated regulation of private derivative contracts could “pose grave dangers to our economy.” He argued forcefully for regulation of private derivative contracts but lost to Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin who were against policing the deals.

1990 The price of crude oil rose dramatically when Hussein invaded Kuwait.

1986 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 184 million and the T bonds were among the most actively traded future contracts (Bernstein 2000:71).

1989 Michael Lewis’ novel entitled Liar’s Poker was published. He intended to write a period piece about the 1980s in America. He had expected readers to be outraged that in 1986, the C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, was paid $3.1 million. He expected readers to be horrified that one of the traders, Howie Rubin, had moved to Merrill Lynch, where he lost $250 million. He expected readers to be shocked to learn that a Wall Street C.E.O. had only the vaguest idea of the risks his traders were running.” Writing in 2008 he expressed dismay that Wall Street continued for another 20 years and the public were more in awe than angry. Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom#ixzz1Qd1u5MLZ

1987 The World Commission on Environment and Sustainable Development (Brundtland Commission) defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

1987-10-19 “The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 20%, and the swoon extended into the following day, before a rebound. Floor traders, working by telephone, dominated the action and computer-generated trading was still in its infancy. Dark pools and high-frequency trading were the stuff of science fiction. Trading reached 600 million shares, according to the SEC (source).”

1982 Futures trading in the US was self-regulating and anyone in the business had to become a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

1970s The Bretton Woods system broke down in the early 1970s. This was followed by a period of financial market liberalization and deregulation, by a surge of private capital flows and by the increasingly global reach of financial institutions.

1974 The US Congress passed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act and established Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to protect participants in the futures market from fraud, deceit and abusive practices such as unfair trading practices (price manipulation, prearranged trading, trading ahead of a customer), credit and financial risks, and sales practice abuses (Bernstein 2000:32). Individual nation states have similar regulating bodies.

1973/4 The International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded as an autonomous organisation to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. The IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. The Executive Director in 2011 is Nobuo Tanaka “Total oil stocks in IEA member countries amount to over 4.1 billion barrels, and nearly 1.6 billion barrels of this are public stocks held exclusively for emergency purposes. IEA net oil-importing countries have a legal obligation to hold emergency oil reserves equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports. These countries are holding stock levels well above this minimum amount, currently at 146 days of net imports (http://www.iea.org)”

1972 The total volume of futures contracts trading was 18 million and the top ten most actively traded future contracts were agricultural futures (Bernstein 2000:71).

1970s There was increasing volatility in international currency exchange rates as the Bretton Woods agreement began to break down. Business people transferred risk of volatility in international markets by hedging with speculators willing to take the risk. Futures markets began to expand into foreign currencies as fluctuated wildly competing against each other and the US dollar.

1960s Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1).

1960s Futures trading, also known as commodities trading, the final frontier of capitalism, became a popular speculative and investment vehicle in the US in the 1960s (Bernstein 2000:1). These financial instruments offer unlimited profit potential with relatively little capital. Speculators are drawn to the possibility of quick money or what I like to call impatient money. The great wealth accumulated from speculative financial instruments has spawned careers in brokerage, market analysis, computerized trading, computer software and hardware, accounting, law, advertising which themselves subdivide into more recent opportunities such as those related to risk-management.

1929-30 “As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth — not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced — to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation’s economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.” Eccles, Marriner S. 1951. Beckoning frontiers: Public and personal recollections Ed. Hyman, Sidney. Alfred A. Knopf.

1919 – 1945 The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) traded futures in eggs, butter, apples, poultry and frozen eggs (Bernstein 2000:70).

1865 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) organized trading of futures contracts.

1848 The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was formed as a price risk occurred in the grain markets of Chicago. It was a cash market for grain. Forward or “to-arrive” contracts began trading at the CBOT almost immediately.

1710 The first modern organized futures exchange began with the Dojima Rice Exchange in Osaka, Japan.The Japanese feudal landowners began to use certificates of receipt against future rice crops. As these futures certificates became financial instruments in the general economy the value of the certificates would rise and fall as the price of rice fluctuated. The Dojima Rice Exchange emerged as the world’s first futures market where speculators traded contracts for the future delivery of rice or “certificates of receipt.” The Japanese government outlawed the practice when futures contracts (where delivery never took place) began to have no relationship to the underlying cash value of the commodity leading to wild and unpredictable fluctuations (Bernstein 2000:30).

Actors and Actants

Electronic Communication Network (ECN) “An electronic system that attempts to eliminate the role of a third party in the execution of orders entered by an exchange market maker or an over-the-counter market maker, and permits such orders to be entirely or partly executed.”

High-frequency trading firms (they self-identify as Automated Trading Professionals) use high-frequency techniques (software-based mechanisms: high frequency algorithmic trading) with real-time, co-located, high-frequency (sub-millisecond) trading platform—one (data collected then orders: created-routed-executed). Wall Street banks and hedge funds also use high-frequency techniques but new (ie emerged formed in c. 1999-2001) small (most have as few as 12 to 100 employees), independent firms account for most high-frequency trading, handling 60 % of the 7 B shares that change hands daily on US stock markets on Wall Street and hedge funds. These high-frequency trading firms have formed a trade group called Principal Traders Group in an effort to hold off regulators who want to curb their activities. The members of the FIA Principal Traders Group is the industry’s response to the Joint CFTC-SEC Advisory Committee examination of the market structure and policy issues arising from the extraordinary market turmoil that occurred on May 6, 2010. See (Bowley, Graham. 2011-07-18. “ Split-second traders aim to polish image.New York Times.) High-frequency trading firms using high-frequency techniques (software-based mechanisms: high frequency algorithmic trading) earned $12.9 billion in profit in the last two years (2009-2011), according to TABB Group, a specialist on the markets. TABB Group content focused on the business and technology issues facing US equity and options trading.

RGM Advisors, is a high-frequency trading firm in Austin, Texas. RGM CEO Richard Gorelick, is leading his company to seek a higher public profile.

Low latency Algorithmic Trading is used to process market updates and turn around orders within milliseconds. Low latency trading refers to the network connections used by financial institutions to connect to stock exchanges and Electronic communication networks (ECNs) to execute financial transactions. With the spread of computerized trading, electronic trading now makes up 60% to 70% of the daily volume on the NYSE and algorithmic trading close to 35%. Trading using computers has developed to the point where millisecond improvements in network speeds offer a competitive advantage for financial institutions. (Low latency is also being discussed in the advertising community, as a form of advertising that responds rapidly to consumer inputs, often from tweets.)

International Energy Agency (IEA) The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations. The IEA is committed to keeping the oil supplies well-stocked. The Executive Director in 2011 is Nobuo Tanaka “Total oil stocks in IEA member countries amount to over 4.1 billion barrels, and nearly 1.6 billion barrels of this are public stocks held exclusively for emergency purposes. IEA net oil-importing countries have a legal obligation to hold emergency oil reserves equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports. These countries are holding stock levels well above this minimum amount, currently at 146 days of net imports (http://www.iea.org)”

Henry C.K. Liu “is an independent commentator on culture, economics and politics. Born in Hong Kong and educated at Harvard University in architecture and urban design, Liu developed an interest in economics and international relations while pursuing interdisciplinary work on urban and regional development as a professor at UCLA, Harvard and Columbia universities. He was a planning/ development advisor to the late Winthrop Rockefeller, governor of Arkansas, and has received a national urban design award. Liu is currently the chairperson of a New York-based private investment group, a contributor to Asia Times Online and a visiting professor of global development at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He is an occasional advisor on economic policy to several governments of emerging economies. Liu coined the term “dollar hegemony” to explain that the dollar, a fiat currency since 1971 and the major reserve currency internationally, distorts global trade and finance. Liu is a critic of central banking. He also calls for the use of sovereign credit in lieu of foreign capital for financing domestic development in developing countries. Liu has also been vocal in his critique of Chinese economic policy, which he argues includes imbalances that result in severe income disparity and environmental neglect. In a series of articles in Asia Times Online, Liu proposed the establishment of the Organization of Labor-Intensive Exporting Countries (OLEC), an international cartel, to restore the balance of market power between capital and labor in the globalized economy. He blogs at henryckliu.com. Huffington Post.”

Soft commodities:

OTC Over-the-counter derivatives markets engage in off-market trading for oil which is unregulated. Estimates for the OTC derivative market for all assets range upward of $600 trillion. See (Edison Electric Institute (EEI). 2010-01. “OTC Derivatives Reform: Energy Sector Impacts. p. 1.”). “Use of Financial Derivatives: A typical, large independent oil & natural gas exploration and production company regularly deals with volatility in oil & natural gas exploration. Such companies regularly make extensive use of financial derivatives with the discrete purpose of ensuring a stable cash flow from which they can consistently fund their capital program to find and bring much needed energy resources to market. Although they may make use of exchange-traded instruments, many of their financial transactions are concluded overthe-counter (OTC) under bilateral credit agreements. These frequently use the OTC markets for efficiency and economic reasons and allows the companies to: 1) customize the instrument specifically to operations;
2) reduce the need for cash by permitting more flexibility in the types of collateral leading to a more efficient use of capital and greater liquidity; 3) provide credit exposure diversification; and 4) have the ability to modify credit arrangements depending on a variety of factors during the term of a trade (more).”

Universal Banking Model – Investment and retail banking in one organisation. There is widespread concern that casino banking endangers security of traditional retail banking.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bernstein, Jake. 2000. How the Futures Markets Work. New York Institute of Finance.

Although it is quite old for the fast-paced risk management industry, there are certain basics that ring true. He briefly traced the history futures contracts leading to the volatile environment where agricultural futures were replaced by the less predictable currency markets. Of course, his book was written long before the meteoric rise of private equity funds. My concern remains with the absent ethical component on trading floors. Ethical responsibilities are as elastic as the regulations that govern the centuries old practice of hedging. In the period of late capitalism and the emergence of risk society, the cost of destructive unintended byproducts have created havoc in ways that far exceed the commodities/service value. The road to profits and impatient money, is paved with casualties. Berstein’s facts of market life are telling. He encourages simple methods and systems which require few decisions and little mental conflict. Too much thought is not conducive to successful trading. Too much analysis costs lost opportunities. Keep systems simple. Control your emotions. Practice caring less so that you remain more objective. Don’t ask why. Knowing why may hinder you more than it will help you. Patterns are the best indicators available (What feeds into a “pattern” however is not a science). Timing is what makes money in the futures market (Bernstein 2000:282-3). In other words, futures’ gurus encourage young hedge fund analysts to not think too much about factors such as displacement of peoples, the degradation of living conditions and the way in which they unwittingly contribute to making vulnerable ecologies and peoples even more vulnerable. Their gurus tell them to not think about the impact of their actions. They are told to not ask why the prices of essential commodities like fuel and food that they are playing with, are pushing certain groups into unimaginable levels of social exclusion. In the end groups at-risk to health degradation are always those least able to protect themselves. How convenient that the gurus do not factor in these social issues. They are entirely absent from finance reports. But then a lot of information is purposely not included in financial and business reports. Bernstein argues that the simpler systems that take fewer things into consideration will lead to more profits. Yet when he lists off all the potential factors in operation in even a simple fundamental analysis, it is not at all simple. It begins with the highly complex. The algorithms involved may appear to be simplified through the use of databases that seem to generate accurate, objective hard facts. In reality, the accuracy of any query depends on what was fed into it.

Bernanke, B. S. 2008. “Outstanding Issues in the Analysis of Inflation.” Speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 53rd Annual Economic Conference. Chatham, MA.

Blais, Javier. 2011-06-01. Commodity swings expected after US storms forecast.” Financial Times. London.

Coyle, Diane. 2011. The Economics of Enough: How to Run the Economy as If the Future Matters. Princeton University Press.

nature of global capitalism, fiscal policy, inequality and the environment with reflection on civil society, economic growth ought not to be a policy goal, use of a greater range of economic indicators–she backs output growth as an objective, bond holders are safe; citizens are not; beyond traditional measures of debt in thinking about future obligations; top-rank economist’s view from the summit, challenge the neo-classical economic purist; economics and sustainability; serious and difficult changes made to economic systems’ structure and function; Herman Daly’s Steady-State Economics; long-run development; resource depletion, population growth, world poverty, rising debt, rates of innovation;

Cuthbertson, Richard. 2008-06-17. “Energy battles boiling over: A Wall Street analyst attending Calgary’s prominent energy investment forum found himself in the eye of a growing environmental storm battering Alberta’s oilsands — one of several clashes centred on the energy sector Monday.Calgary Herald.

Eccles, Marriner S. 1951. Beckoning frontiers: Public and personal recollections Ed. Hyman, Sidney. Alfred A. Knopf.

Flood, Chris. 2009-10-30 “Markets: Oil dips after US GDP boost.” Financial Times.

Hirsch, Michael. 2010. Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street. New Jersey: John Wiley.

Lewis, Michael. 1989. Liar’s Poker. W.W. Norton & Company.

Martin, Roger L. 2011-05. Fixing the Game: How Runaway Expectations Broke the Economy, and How to Get Back to Reality. Harvard Business School.

Orphanides, Athanasios, and John C. Williams (2007). “Robust Monetary Policy with Imperfect Knowledge,” Leaving the Board Journal of Monetary Economics, vol. 54 (July), pp. 1406-35.

Pain, Nigel, Isabell Koske, and Marte Sollie (2006). “Globalisation and Inflation in the OECD Economies,” Leaving the Board OECD Economics Department Working Paper Series 524. Paris:  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, November.

Pesenti, Paolo A. Groen, Jan J.J. 2011-03. Commodity prices, Commodity Currencies, and Global Economics. Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs. European Commission. Economics Papers 440. Brussels. Commodity prices,  forecasting, exchange rates, factor models, PLS regression

Powell, Barbara. 2011-06-28. “Gasoline Futures Gain as Crude, Equities Advance, Dollar Drops.” Bloomberg.

Rich, Robert W., and Charles Steindel (2007), “A Comparison of Measures of Core Inflation,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Economic Policy Review, vol. 13 (December).

Wallace, Lane. 2009-07-07. “The Uncommon Navigator: What Wall Street Should Learn from the NFL.” The Atlantic.


In the 199os an artist-musician and close friend originally from Haiti, Emmanuel Printemps, used to visit us regularly on Friday evenings and we would ask him to share his music with us and our other guests. We always requested one of his most moving, enchanting Creole songs, the powerful but sad story of the local butcher who lost his livelihood during the pig slaughter. As I follow the events in Haiti since the earthquake, I think of these precious friends from another time and place; they and their families are in our hearts and prayers.

Rural peasants in Haiti raised a very hardy breed of creole pigs which along with goats, chickens, and cattle served as a savings account. It was argued that from 1978 to 1982 about 1/3 of Haiti’s pigs became infected with the highly contagious African Swine Fever (ASF) in an epidemic that had spread along the Artibonite River shared with the Dominican Republic whose pigs had caught the virus from European sources. At first peasants were encouraged to slaughter their own pigs but then the Haitian government proceeded on a total eradication program that virtually wiped out what remained of the 1.2-million pig population by 1982. Farmers argued that they were not adequately compensated for their losses. The more robust creole pigs were replaced with a sentinel breed of U. S. pigs that were not adapted to Haiti’s ecosystem or market. For Haiti’s rural peasants the loss of income due to the virus and the government’s controversial eradication and repopulation programs led to further impoverishment and greater hardship, ultimately resulting in greater political instability.

View

In two webviral posts entitled “The Hate and the Quake: Rebuilding Haiti” by scholar, historian Sir Hilary Beckles of the University of the West Indies, (Beckles 2010-01-19) that are now circling the globe , we need to do some memory work before we conclude that Haitians are the architects of their own impoverishment.

In this seminal retelling of Haiti’s history,  (Beckles 2010-01-19) reminds us all that when Haiti provided freedom and the right of citizenship to any person of African descent who arrived on the shores of the newly formed Haitian republic (1805), the newly formed nation-state (1804) was strategically punished by Western countries, through economic isolation ( (Beckles 2010-01-19)).

From 1805 through 1825 Haiti was completely denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development in “the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history ( (Beckles 2010-01-19)).”

In 1825 in an attempt to be a part of international markets, Haiti entered into negotiations with France which resulted in payment of a reparation fee of 150 million gold francs to be paid to France in return for national recognition. The installments were made from 1825 until 1922. From 1825-1900 alone this amounted to 70% of Haiti’s foreign exchange earnings. Beckles (2010-01-) argues that this merciless exploitation caused the Haitian economy to collapse  (Beckles 2010-01-19).

Furthermore, when Haiti’s coffee or sugar yields declined, the Haitian government had to borrow money from the United States at double the going interest rate in order to repay their punishing debt to the French government (Beckles 2010-01-19) .

From 1915-1934 the United States occupied Haiti under orders of President Woodrow Wilson in response to concerns that Haiti was unable to make its considerable loan payments to American banks to which Haiti was deeply in debt. The brutal U.S. occupation of Haiti caused problems that lasted long after 1934.

Webliography and Bibliography

Beckles, Hilary. 2010-01-19. “The Hate and the Quake: Rebuilding Haiti.” Posted by Sir Hilary Beckles on Jan 19th, 2010 and filed under Caribbean.

Beckles, Hilary. 2010-01-31. “The Hate and the Quake: Part 2” Sir Hilary Beckles, Contributor

Arctic Adventurer: a Flicktion

Arctic Adventurer: a Flicktion,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

In the few short months that I have spent in Nunavut, two mothers who had become my colleagues and friends, lost youthful sons to suicide. Within a brief period of two months, four youth in a community of less than 1,500 people committed suicide. Almost the entire community attended the funeral. The hall was filled with infants, toddlers, children, youth, adults and elders. The youngest children wove between chairs and family members comfortably a part of community life. Youth dressed in southern street-smart clothing respectfully gave their seats to elders. The shared pain in the room at the loss of their youth through suicide, was suffocating. At the graveside, it was cold and windy. It began to snow. As one mother witnessed the shovel-fulls of sand thudding onto her son’s coffin, another walked quietly alone to another fresh grave nearby. I stood there helpless feeling so overwhelmed I couldn’t move. I know many others felt the same paralysis. How many of us were mothers? How many of us had sons in their twenties?

The family of the young man, colleagues and friends provided support to the parents and to each other. On the return flight home, one man was unusually upbeat and talkative. Perhaps that is his way of dealing with the pain. I didn’t know who he was. He sat behind me. As I left the plane I asked the woman next to me who this man was. To my astonishment it was the *** for Nunavut.

Following the suicides, friends and acquaintances attempted to find ways of absorbing yet another tragedy. Some felt anger at the youth who committed suicide. Many expressed feelings of numbness. Some regretted their own inability to know what to do. They felt guilty for not knowing how to prevent it. Like many others I feel a sense of powerlessness.

November 21, 2003: (I hope things go well with you. I am writing to ask your favour in helping a bit on your recent (and future) expense claims. I know that S.H. is a bit harried, working herself as a full-time instructor as well as the financial manager on this project. I really do not want her — nor is it fair — working as a glorified clerk. Therefore, in her behalf, could you send her a claim that she can file without amendment — that is, typed or in pen, a correct excess baggage sum, and an amended per diem (given kitchen facilities, it should be much less than $70.) working with an actual cost or estimated at around $35 or $40. We are tight on this project, especially as I went the extra mile on the term appointment. Many thanks.)

December 11, 2002: While waiting for my plane at the Iqaluit airport I met a physician-researcher who had just completed a report on the Nunavut Ministry of Health. She told me about a two-hour conversation she had with a man called TNC in a hotel bar in Rankin Inlet. TNC had lost a friend to suicide. He was deeply bothered by his loss. He went to see a nurse. The nurse became very uncomfortable when Tommy mentioned he was depressed and upset by this suicide. She sent him to a Social Worker. The Social Worker was also ill at ease. She called the police. TNC spent the night in jail. They were concerned he might hurt himself. Because the small hamlet had no counselling services, TNC was flown to Yellowknife. He was separated from the only real support system he had — his mother and grandmother in Rankin Inlet. Later on the plane I sat beside a young man GRB. GRB worked for Baffin Correctional Centre. He started there in c.1996. He told me about a millionaire who made his fortune by buying high-end buildings in Iqaluit, then renting them at high rents to the Nunavut Government. GRB loved speed — the speed of the snow machine. His best moments were out on the land with a half a dozen friends on powerful machines. His work bothered him. He felt surrounded by uneducated, untrained fellow-workers — many of whom came from Halifax — who cared little for the young offenders. Many were there because they could earn huge salaries — especially with overtime. Some of them didn’t even have high school education and in Iqaluit they were earning much more than they ever could in the Maritimes. It frustrated him to see how these untrained workers wanted to work by the book to earn points from the supervisors. Sometimes a situation could be diffused before it became violent and ugly. By rigidly following the book, a small incident could escalate into an ugly incident very quickly. GRB came to know the offenders so he knew how to calm things. Increasingly the workers who lacked experience but were older than him, made the situations worse. GRB noticed the most improvement in the youth came through the on-the-land program. Youth would spend a couple of months with the elders. They came back healthier and more confident. He commented on the work of the psychiatrist Dr. Q He said that Dr. Q tried to prevent the worst from happening but he was not really in control of the situation. He was not able to make all the decisions that would be beneficial to the youth. GRB said that Iqaluit youth threatening suicide would be sent to the Youth detention centre. He would be stripped down, showered and then given ‘baby dolls’ to wear before being locked in a safe cell where he could do himself no harm. (What a contrast to the treatment my friend’s son received in Ottawa. )

June 2002: This text will change organically as the flicktion develops.

Uploaded by ocean.flynn on 30 Nov 06, 9.15PM MDT.


Mapping Money

Economic activity which mainly uses raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soils, increased to a (GWP) (Gross World Product): (purchasing power parity exchange rates) of $23 trillion by 2002; $51.48 trillion by 2004 and $59.38 trillion by 2005 and in 2008 (market exchange rates) it was $60.69 trillion. Yet global wealth does not translate into an increase in global well-being. Extremes of wealth and poverty have increased and according to TD Bank Financial Group Economists Drummond and Tulk (2006) wealth disparities will intensify. In Canada alone, the wealthiest or Ultra High New Worth (UHNW) families, who comprise only a fraction of Canada’s households, controlled almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion in 2007. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by UHNW with family offices Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

Mavericks, tycoons and risk-takers, (many of whom became the Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals and families – people capable of seeing resources as opportunities and knowing how to manage them to their own advantage, are western heroes. As long as enough of the resources trickled down, translating into a reasonable quality of life for most people in the form of jobs, assets, properties, vehicles, services and common recreation and parklands, we remained in a love-hate relationship with the the elite who had status, wealth and/or power. In 1992 Ulrich Beck described a world where the unintended consequences of the production of the former were no longer benefiting the latter. Certitude in access to fundamentals like clean air, water, sufficient food, housing was eroding in places that had never doubted before. And how the UHNW are becoming even more enriched by using raw materials such as waterways, sea, forests and soil, is troubling.

The Bruntland Commission reported (1987) that since 1977 public concern had been seized by the realization that crises once considered to be separate and therefore more containable – such as environmental crisis, development crisis, energy crisis, (by 2009 include food crisis, water crisis, poverty crisis, financial crisis) – were in fact, global. The dissolving of boundaries between the neat compartmentalization of the globe and its resources into nation states and sectors (energy, agriculture, trade), and within broad areas of concern (environment, economics, social) which made them once seem as one-by-one problems with solutions, were already understood to be much more far-reaching and complex. The one-world one-earth future was no longer a utopian dream or dystopian nightmare, just a pragmatic reality Our Common Future.

Risk Management: Shrinking Watersheds and Aquifers

The most vulnerable to social exclusion, the most impoverished have been hit harder than ever before and their numbers are growing. We have the technical and scientific capacity to link data from different sources and scales and to make this information widely available through Web 2.0 or the social media – crucial information regarding public policies, legal aspects, ethics, (moral mathematics?) etc of the depletion of aquifers, watersheds, and the re-routing of limited water resources. Who is producing reliable assessments of extremes of water wealth and poverty? Without access to balanced, objective information how can we expect to have the individual, political and institutional will to establish objective criterion for indexing water resource use and management? With information, can we hope for knowledge and dream of wisdom?

Groundwater Processes are Virtually Unknown

“Many of Canada’s freshwater resources are under stress because of increasing municipal and industrial use and impacts from human activities. To ensure protection of public health and the aquatic environment, Canadians need state-of-the-art treatment plants capable of removing a growing array of pollutants from wastewaters. This includes emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals disposed of in the sewage system, pathogens such as the Corona virus, and nutrients that feed unwanted and potentially toxic algae growth. In Alberta, groundwater processes are virtually unknown. The full long-term impacts of water use by the oil and gas industry are poorly understood, and future expansion of this industry will rely on improved, cost-effective water conservation and management practices. Dr. Tom Harding of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy does on research areas the recycling and reuse of water in oil and gas production (ISEEE).”

Is water a commodity or a human right?

According to T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ), the Texas oil tycoon, “he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” See also Mapping Blue Gold

According to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNESCO) water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when [they] adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

According to BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, who explored fears of an impending global water crisis in his 2004 article when 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

According to The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” “Water is essential for life, and an adequate water supply is a prerequisite for human and economic development. It hasbeen recognized that human behavior can have an impact both on water, and on the global ecosystem, and that there is a need to regulate that behavior in order to stabilize and sustain our future (WCED, 1987 cited in Sullivan 2002). Global water resources are limited, and only through a more sustainable approach to water management, and more equitable and ecologically sensitive strategies of water allocation and use, can we hope to achieve the international development targets for poverty reduction that have been set for 2015 (DFID, 2000).”

According to University of Alberta’s Dr. Bill Donahue, Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..”

“Water, an increasingly valuable multiple-use resource, is the source of continuing conflict in Canada and abroad. Its use and control presents significant challenges to governments, stakeholders, and citizens. Canadian Water Politics explores the nature of water use conflicts and the need for institutional designs and reforms to meet the governance challenges now and in the future. The editors present an overview of the properties of water, the nature of water uses, and the institutions that underpin water politics. Contributors highlight specific water policy concerns and conflicts in various parts of Canada and cover issues ranging from the Walkerton drinking water tragedy, water export policy, Great Lakes pollution, St Lawrence River shipping, Alberta irrigation and oil production, and fisheries management on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Canada – with its Great Lakes, three oceans, and border with the US – provides an ideal reference point for studying water use rivalries, conflicts, and governance. By exploring the controversies surrounding water management in Canada, Canadian Water Politics is an essential source for citizens, officials, academics and students, and contributes to our understanding of natural resource management and environmental policy at home and globally (Review of Sproule-Jones, Johns and Heinmiller 2008-11-20).”

Who’s Who

The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), created by the United Nations in 1983, to address growing concern “about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development.” In establishing the commission, the UN General Assembly recognized that environmental problems were global in nature and determined that it was in the common interest of all nations to establish policies for sustainable development. (WCED 1987). Their report entitled “One Common Future” recommended securing water availability for the needs of future generations. “On the development side, in terms of absolute numbers there are more hungry people in the world than ever before, and their numbers are increasing. So are the numbers who cannot read or write, the numbers without safe water or safe and sound homes, and the numbers short of woodfuel with which to cook and warm themselves. The gap between rich and poor nations is widening – not shrinking – and there is little prospect, given present trends and institutional arrangements, that this process will be reversed (WCED 1987:1).”

Copenhagen Climate Council is an Anti-Kyoto organisation which “works against most US government efforts to address climate change.” The self-defined ”global climate leaders” are in fact business leaders as CEOs of major global corporations, hoping to seize “seize the unique opportunity which the Copenhagen Summit 2009 offers to do something good for the global environment and at the same time do good business.” The U.N.’s post-Kyoto, post-2012 negotiations will be finalised in Copenhagen in 2009. Global business leaders issued “The Copenhagen Call” at the close of the World Business Summit on Climate Change on May 26 where CEOs discussed “how their firms can help solve the climate crisis through innovative business models, new partnerships, and the development of low-carbon technologies. They will send a strong message to the negotiating governments on how to remove barriers and create incentives for implementation of new solutions in a post-Kyoto framework.” The Climate Council is represented by Don Pearlman, an international anti-Kyoto lobbyist who was a paid adviser to the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments who followed the US line against Kyoto. Ms Dobriansky met Don Pearlman to “solicit [his] views as part of our dialogue with friends and allies (Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Maud Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians- A citizen’s watchdog organization with over 100,000 members. One of their ongoing campaigns is that water is a public trust which belongs to everyone. She is also the co-author of Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Bechtel Corporation (Bechtel Group) is the largest engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 7th-largest privately owned company in the U.S. With headquarters in San Francisco. wiki Bechtel was forced to back down on its efforts to taking control of the Cochabamba, Bolivia water supply and privatizing it in 2000 when Bolivian protesters were joined by overwhelming international support. Bechtel Corporation, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction services companies has been owned and operated by the Bechtel family since incorporating the company in 1945. It was founded by Warren A. Bechtel (1872 – 1933) in 1898. The current Bechtel CEO is Riley P. Bechtel, one of the richest men in the United States. wiki

Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta was quoted in the New York Times: Alberta treats water ”as an inexhaustible resource [...] The disconnect between supply and demand is not sustainable (Simon 2002-08-09)..” Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.” Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04).

Exxon the US’s most valuable company valued at $379bn (£206bn) dominates The Global Climate Coalition GGC, and is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions [...] Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for President George Bush’s administration between 2001 and 2004, sought the advice of anti-Kyoto Exxon executives on what climate change policies Exxon might find acceptable and thanking them for their active involvement in helping to determine climate change policy. These exchanges were revealed in the US State Department briefing papers, “documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month’s G8 meeting [2005], reinforc[ing] widely-held suspicions of how close the company [Exxon] is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

The Global Climate Coalition GGC, dominated by Exxon, is the main anti-Kyoto US industry group. President Bush considered Exxon “among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions(Vidal 2005-06-08).”

Oscar Olivera, was secretary of the Bolivian Federation of Factory Workers. In 2006 he addressed the World Development Movement conference held in Britain on the theme of “Whose Rules Rule.” He was a protest leader against water privatisation by the US-based multinational company Bechtel when Bechtel came to Cochabamba, Bolivia with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000. Olivera won the 2001 Goldman environment prize.

T. Boone Pickens (b. 1919- ) Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon, who made his fortune in oilpatch investments, is now planning on building the world’s largest wind farm in Texas. In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) He proposes that the private sector build thousands of wind turbines that could potentially supply one-fifth of electricity in the U.S. He claims wind power would replace natural gas in power generation; natural gas could then replace diesel and gasoline as a transportation and the U.S. could become free from its foreign oil dependency. He insists that Canadian oil is not considered to be “foreign.” ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets. “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already [had in 2008], some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” In June of 2009 he claimed that he was very interested in Alberta as a potential site for his giant wind farms if he could make a better deal in Alberta than in Texas. He is already priming the Alberta business community. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their oil, water and/or energy supply. He is persistent, single-minded and worked for decades to one by one change relevant laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas to gain the control he needed. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

T. Boone Pickens engineered a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted [November 2007] in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner for The Council of Canadians opposes an expanded Alberta water market. “The water market system is absolutely not the solution. We consider water to be a human right. When you allocate according to the laws of the market, then you see water going to those who can pay the most. So it goes to the highest bidder.” She argues the government should instead create a hierarchy of water use, allocating to those who need it most — including the environment (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), an international environmental treaty The Kyoto Accord was first negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

Vivendi water is the backbone of Vivendi company according to Maud Barlow, with c. 295,000 people working just in their water department alone. So these companies came onto the scene first in France interestingly enough because France flirted with the privatization of water first then moved over to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and then with the World Bank backing them have moved all through the third world where they are failing every single solitary place that they are operating.

Manthan Adhyayan Kendra centre, based in the Narmada Valley, was founded by Shripad Dharmadhikary in October 2001 to research, analyse and monitor water and energy issues. Manthan’s two major themes of work are (a) large dams, irrigation and hydropower and (b) Privatisation and commercialisation of water and power in India. Dharmadhikary was a full time activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan for 12 years, the mass organisation of people affected by large dams on the Narmada river in India. He was closely associated with the World Commission on Dams from its inception to its follow up UNEP-Dams and Development Project. He has recently completed a study on hydropower dam building in the Himalayas for International Rivers titled Mountains of Concrete. Other publications include Unravelling Bhakra, the report of a three year study (2001-12 through 2004-12) led by him of the Bhakra Nangal project. This study claims to completely overturn many of the popular notions and perceptions associated with the Bhakra Nangal Project. Currently, Manthan is working on the issues and impacts of privatisation of the water sector in India, including a study of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that is being pushed in the water sector, and the implications – financial, economic, social, environmental and access – of large scale privatisation of hydropower.

Professor Cathy Ryan, Department of Geoscience and the BScEnvironmental Science Program, University of Calgary “has inspired inspired an undergraduate research programin Environmental Science, as part of which students work in partnership with government, private sector and non-governmental collaborators to collect and analyze original data. The results of these studies are reported back to community stakeholders at enthusiastically-attended open houses.Meanwhile, Professor Ryan’s active contributions to local watershed groups (among them, Friends of Fish Creek, Elbow River WatershedPartnership, Nose Creek Watershed Partnershipand the Bow River Basin Council) are further evi-dence of a community engagement that extends beyond the normal call of academic duties. As a Board Member of the Bow River Basin Councilfrom 2004 to 2008, she provided technical advice and was an invited speaker and presenter on research activities that informed local landuse policymaking.The value of Professor Ryan’s input, and a furthermeasure of her community service, is manifest infrequent invitations to participate in regional,municipal, provincial and national workshops. Beyond simply sharing research findings, these presentations help to guide groundwater man-agement initiatives, including a successful 2006 municipal bylaw proposal for Environmental Setbacks for the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Currently, Professor Ryan is also the Assistant Program Director for the Central American WaterResources Management Network, a training net-work designed to better enable Central American universities and local communities to protect their water resources. Professor Ryan has published on Central American hydrogeology and water quality, in addition to her research in Alberta.Professor Ryan’s research interests include thefate of agricultural, human, and industrial wastes in groundwater and surface water. An examination of the impact of Calgary waste water on theBow River led in turn to a part-time sabbatical appointment as a Senior Water Policy Advisor to the City of Calgary. Professor Ryan subsequently received the City of Calgary Environmental Achievement Award in June 2008. Professor Ryan received her BASc in Geological Engineering from Queen’s University and her MSc and PhD (1994) in Earth Sciences from the University of Waterloo. She is also an adjunct professor in the Schulich School of Engineering, and has been a member of the Faculty Association since 1997 (University of Calgary 2009 awards).”

World Bank “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

World Water Council 2009 Report

Water Poverty Index This paper provides discussion of ways in which an interdisciplinary approach can be
taken to produce an integrated assessment of water stress and scarcity, linking physical estimates of water availability with socioeconomic variables that reflect poverty, i.e., a Water Poverty Index to contribute to more equitable solutions for water allocation. A ‘‘Water Poverty Index’’ would enable progress toward development targets to be monitored, and water projects to be better targeted to meet the needs of the current generation, while securing water availability for the needsof future generations, as recommended in the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987). It is known that poor households often suffer from poor water provision, and this results in a significant loss of time and effort, especially for women. Sullivan provided a summary of different approaches to establish a Water Poverty Index by linking the physical and social sciences to address this issue (Sullivan, Caroline. 2002 “Calculating a Water Poverty Index.” World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210).”

Sir Richard Branson Founder and CEO, Virgin Group, (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) is on The Copenhagen Climate Council. He “has recently pledged all profits from his Virgin air and rail interests over the next 10 years to combating rising global temperatures. However, the estimated $3bn will be invested in Virgin Fuels. Much of the investment will focus on biofuels, an alternative to oil-based fuels made from plants. [...] “…in our particular case we are putting all the profit we have got from our airline business into trying to develop clean fuels so that hopefully one day we can actually have fuels that we can fly our plains by, that will not do any damage to the environment (Branson).”

Selected Watersheds

Bow River watershed

The San Joaquin River watershed originates in Martha Lake (California) and winds through California for 530 km flowing into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and then San Francisco Bay. The basin area is 83,000 km2.

Selected Timeline of Events Related to Watersheds: Licensing Blue Gold or Managing a Human Right

1728 Mennonite brothers, the Bechtels, came to America in the early 1700s from Switzerland.

1846 German-born Heinrich Kreiser (aka Henry Miller) (Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) immigrated to the United States arriving in California in 1850. The Miller and Lux company became the largest producer of cattle in California and one of the largest landowners in the United States, owning 1,400,000 acres (5,700 km2) directly and controlling nearly 22,000 square miles (57,000 km2) of cattle and farm land in California, Nevada, and Oregon. The Miller and Lux Corporation was headquartered in Los Banos, California, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Miller played a major role in the development of much of the San Joaquin Valley during the late 19th century.

early 1900s The Alberta agricultural irrigation industry acquired massive water licences. Since then they have relied on the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system which gave priority to whoever got water licences first (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. In Alberta, water has been traditionally allocated on the “first-in-time, first-in-right” principle for both surface and ground water. The older the licence, the higher that user is on the priority list. This allows the owners of the first licenses issued to access the full amount of water issued before newer licensees have access, regardless of use. Furthermore, water licenses granted under this principle have no expiry date. However, licenses issued under the Water Act are now issued for a fixed period. In a review of Canadian Water Politics (2008) Chris McLaughlin, CEO of the Niagara Escarpment Foundation agreed with the book’s insightful comments that “the historical path dependency of current water allocation privileges – first-in-time, first-in-right – continues to favour entrenched agricultural, industrial and commercial interests who had their water claims institutionalized in law well before the value of “sustainability” was recognized. The reality inhibits institutional change, especially the adaptation of institutions to evolving water conflicts and other shifts social-ecological realities (McLaughlin 2009:31).”

1913 Oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, who became the world’s first billionaire, was the wealthiest person in the modern history of the world. Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW)

1930s The Bechtel Six Companies, a joint venture of construction companies built The Hoover Dam, named after President Herbert Hoover). This hydroelectric dam on the Colorado River was at that time the largest civil engineering project ever undertaken.

1940s Friant Dam was constructed as part of the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project in the 1940s. Its purpose was to divert the waters of the San Joaquin to maximize their use to help people, both to irrigate crops and to provide groundwater recharge. Most of the waters of the San Joaquin River are diverted into canals so that the river remains dry for a 17 miles (27 km) except when flood control requires additional releases from the dam.

1950s Using raw materials from watersheds, seas, forests and soils 80% of the global industrial growth since the 1880s occurred since 1950. Industrial production grew more than fifty-fold from 1887-1987. There was already a $13 trillion world economy in 1987 Our Common Future.

1963-10-22 Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru opened the 740-feet high Bhakra multipurpose hydroelectric project claiming to ushering an era of agriculture development, Nehru had aptly declared Bhakra ‘the temple of modern India’.

1966-08 Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

1969 The world’s first ministry of environment was established in Japan in 1969.

1970 Canada introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

1971 Ontario introduced its Ministry of the Environment.

Late 1970s Most OECD countries had a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations concerning waste and pollution.

1987 “State of the environment: National reports.” Nairobi: UNEP.

1984-1987 The World Commission on Environment and Development reported that between October 1984. and April 1987: “The drought-triggered, environment-development crisis in Africa peaked, putting 36 million people at risk, killing perhaps a million; A leak from a pesticides factory in Bhopal, India, killed more than 2,000 people and blinded and injured over 200,000 more; Liquid gas tanks exploded in Mexico City, killing 1,000 and leaving thousands more homeless; The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion sent nuclear fallout across Europe, increasing the risks of future human cancers; Agricultural chemicals, solvents, and mercury flowed into the Rhine River during a warehouse fire in Switzerland, killing millions of fish and threatening drinking water in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands; An estimated 60 million people died of diarrhoeal diseases related to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition; most of the victims were children (WCED 1987).”

1987. The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published their report entitled “Our Common Future,” known as the Brundtland Report.

1987 Report of the Expert Group Meeting on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management

1989 “[The] government of Argentina embarked on a major privatization program, and water and sewage were not excluded (Orwin 1999-08).” This contract [was] terminated in 1999. Problems with quality and cost prompted the new government, which had been in opposition when the contract was negotiated, to take the action. The major partner in the consortium, Vivendi, sued the region for compensation ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1992-04 Three Gorges Dam, so enormous it would become the world’s biggest dam, sparked the biggest political debate in Communist China’s history in the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliament. Nearly one-third voted against the dam or abstained – an unprecedented figure (Coonan 2006-03-17.

1992 The degree of water privatization in Canada and the United States was minimal. While more than half of the American water utilities were privately owned, and while cities such as Indianapolis and Atlanta were increasingly contracting out their water and sewage services, public utilities remained the norm in large cities; in 1992, they served 85 per cent of the U. S. population ( From Orwin 1999-08).

Early 1990s “[C]ritics in both the public and the private sector had questioned the appropriateness of a regulatory approach based on what was called “the old system of command and approaches such as economic instruments or voluntary measures. At the same time, governments were facing strong fiscal pressures to reduce the cost of their operations in order to stop the downward spiral of growing deficits and debt. These fiscal pressures were given ideological impetus by political parties that favored deregulation, downsizing and privatization (Ministry of the Environment research 2000).”

1992 Sullivan (1992) called for the political will and institutional acceptance so that individual countries would be enable to produce their own integrated assessments of water poverty. She recommended the use of participatory action research at the community level to involve and educate local people in terms of their water needs enabling them to better understand, communicate and negotiate with policy makers. “By providing information about household welfare, and water stress at the household and community level, this locally generated data can form the core of the Water Poverty Index (WPI).

1993 “The initial hopes for privatisation were so high that donor spending on infrastructure fell in the expectation that the private sector would take up the slack. For example, World Bank lending for infrastructure investment declined by 50 per cent during 1993-2002, with much of this directed towards preparing firms for privatisation. In 2002, Bank lending for water and sanitation projects, in particular, was only 25 per cent of its annual average during 1993-97. At the same time, the World Bank increased its support for private investment in utilities through its International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). While Bank lending to public electricity utilities dropped from about $2.9 billion in 1990 to only $824 million in 2001, its sector lending to private investors rose from $45 million to $687 million. Lending about $20 billion to water supply projects over the last 12 years, the World Bank has not only been a principal financier of privatisation, it has also increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

1994 Ontario passed the Environmental Bill of Rights.

1994 In Ecuador the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) giving a grant to the government to set up the necessary reforms of pricing and regulatory procedures to encourage further privatization in the water and sewage sector. By 1999 The government of Ecuador planned on privatizing all water utilities, for the sake of financing further investment ( Orwin 1999-08).

1995-06 Mike Harris as Premier of Ontario , declared a “Common Sense Revolution” in which he announced that Ontario was “open for business” promised to cut red tape and get government (particularly the Environment ministry) “out of the face” of business. Over the next two years, the budget of Moe was cut nearly 50% and the staff was reduced by more than 40% . The impact of these cuts on the capacity of Moe to serve the public interest in relation to the taro operations was cited in print media coverage of the controversy (Ministry of the Environment (MOE) research 2000).”

1995-11 The World Bank offered large loans to Bogota, Columbia to convert the dysfunctional municipal monopoly into a privatized utility.

Postel, S. L. (1996). Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity. Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC:
Worldwatch Institute.

1996-12 The government of Chili “introduced a bill to fully privatize state-run water works, the first such legislation in South America. It faced strong opposition even within the ruling coalition but the bill was passed with some compromises, including a stipulation that the government must maintain 35 per cent equity, with some of the remainder being owned by the company employees. In April 1997, the government announced its intention to privatize wastewater treatment as well. The privatization package was finally approved in January 1998, and 55 per cent of the utilities involved were expected to be privatized by March 1999. ( From Orwin 1999-08).

1997-03 The 1st World Water Forum was held in Marrakech, Morocco.

1997-07 La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia “turned their water and sewerage systems over to the French company Lyonnaise des Eaux in July 1997, despite large protests and agitations by the opposition, which periodically paralysed both municipalities. Interestingly, the coalition in favour of the agreement included not only the governments and the water companies but the labor unions as well, who helped ensure the completion of the process. Lyonnaise des Eaux own[ed] 34 per cent of the new company, while a combination of Bolivian and Argentine directors own[ed] the rest ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

1998-09-17 Orwin’s report on the privatization of water reveals his enthusiasm for the privatization of water and sewage systems. Vivendi and Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux joined to vie for the concession for Rio de Janeiro’s water and sewage systems. At that time some of Brazil’s municipal governments that own[ed] the water and sewage systems sought private sector help. Aguas de Limeira, a joint venture between the French conglomerate Lyonnaise des Eaux and Companhia Brasileira de Projectos e Obras, provided water and sanitation to the 250,000 people of the Sao Paulo suburb of Limeira. Degremont, Lyon built two water purification plants in Sao Paulo: one for Sao Miguel (population 700,000) and one for Novo Mondo (population 1,000,000) [...] Vivendi acquired 30% shares in Sanepar, which serves seven million people in the state of Parana. ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1998 Author Shripad Dharmadhikary writes: “the Bank’s process of generating knowledge is flawed and exclusionary. It excludes common people, and their traditional expertise and knowledge. The Bank’s knowledge is frequently created by highly paid, often international, consultants, who have little knowledge of local conditions. The knowledge creation is mostly directed towards arriving at a pre-determined set of policies – privatisation and globalisation. This knowledge creation is often selective, in that information, evidence or experiences that do not support these pre-determined outcomes are ignored. The book is based on case studies of the Indian water sector review in 1998, the Bank-support Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (see Update 56), water privatisation in Delhi, and a project for water restructuring in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Dharmadhikary finds that “[the Bank's] policies have cut people’s access to water, led to environmental destruction, resulted in displacement and destitution of people, stifled better options for water resource management, have had huge opportunity costs, and privileged corporate profits over social responsibility and equity.”

1999 “In Canada, virtually all water and sewage systems [were] publicly owned and operated. However, privatization [was] very slowly getting off the ground in Ontario, where private companies serve[d] 500,000 people,(2) approximately 4.5 per cent of the provincial population. There [was] also some scattered private participation in Alberta and British Columbia, and privatization [was] being considered by two of the larger Maritime cities ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $70-million loan to reform regulatory systems so as to encourage private sector involvement in Bolivia. Bolivia had begun “major restructuring of the water sector in 1991, which involved the transfer of powers from the central level to the municipal level ( Orwin 1999-08).”

1999 As the water crisis deepens countries are depleting groundwater resources accumulated over thousands of years. In India alone the water table dropped by as much as 3m in 1999. As groundwater is exploited, water tables in parts of China, India, West Asia, the former Soviet Union and the western United States were already dropping by 2004 according to a special 2004 report (Kirby 2004-10-19).

2000-03 The Second World Water Forum in The Hague, The Netherlands “generated a lot of debate on the Water Vision for the Future and the associated Framework for Action, dealing with the state and ownership of water resources, their development potential, management and financing models, and their impact on poverty, social, cultural and economic development and the environment. The Ministerial Declaration identifed meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, valuing water and governing water wisely as the key challenges for our direct future. 15,000 people were involved in the Vision related discussions; there were 5,700 participants in the Forum; there were 114 ministers and official of 130 countries at the Ministerial Conference; 500 journalists; 32,500 visitors at the World Water Fair.”

2000 “The UN-backed World Commission on Water estimated in 2000 that an additional $100bn a year would be needed to tackle water scarcity worldwide (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2000-04 Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Alberta Environmental Service Limnologist Anne-Marie Anderson reported that the lake levels of Muriel Lake (northeast of Edmonton and close to the hub of oil sands activity, including Imperial’s Cold Lake operation) were monitored since 1967. The lake reached its maximum in 1974, a very wet year but since then water levels declined steadily, a drop in lake level of nearly 3 m in 2000 from 6.6 m in 1962. As a result of the drop in lake levels, shoreline width has increased considerably. This amounts to perhaps a 50 to 60% loss in the volume of water. There are also concerns that the decline in water levels is resulting in a deterioration of lake water quality and fishing. (Anderson 2000-04). Dr. Bill Donahue of the University of Alberta’s Environmental Research and Studies Centre said his research at Muriel Lake suggested that the oil companies’ appetite for water was having a long-term effect. Although heavy rains in 1997 replenished many other lakes in the area, but the level of Muriel Lake is falling again. Mr. Donahue said the addition of chemicals to water used in oil recovery and the fact that much of the recycled water ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle (Simon 2002-08-09)..” “The Muriel Lake Basin Management Society was formed in 1999 in response to these severe losses of water. In 2002, Dr. Bill Donahue, with the support of Dr. Dave Schindler, the Gordon Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and ERSC, began a study to determine the local and regional water budgets. Drs. Bill Donahue and Alex Wolfe also began a study of the history of water quality, biology, and climate change in Muriel Lake.”

2000-03 Goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York.

2001 The International Freshwater Conference was held in Bonn.

2002 The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg.

2002-02-15 President Bush pledged to reduce “greenhouse gas intensity” by 18 % from 2002 to 2012. New York Times journalist Paul Krugman cautioned however that the algorithm to calculate “greenhouse gas intensity” divides “greenhouse gas intensity” by the gross national product GDP which by most forecasts will expand by 30% from 2002 to 2012. This proposal then will allow a substantial increase in (mainly carbon dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels) that cause global warming. Krugman argued that the Bush administration exaggerated the economic costs such as the destruction of millions of jobs if the Kyoto Protocol’s environmental regulations were implemented. In 2001 Dick Cheney claimed that environmental rules had caused a shortage of refining capacity.(Krugman 2002-02-15)

2002-08-09 Western Canada had its worst drought in decades and environmentalists, farming groups and others called for tighter control of the oil industry. New York Times Business journalist claimed that Alberta’s oil companies use nearly half as much water as the million people in Alberta’s commercial center, Calgary. [...] The energy industry makes up about a quarter of Alberta’s economy. Processes of extracting oil from conventional wells and from oil sands are water-intensive: c. 10 barrels of water are needed to extract one barrel of oil. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers claimed that about 55% of Alberta’s oil output, totaling 1.55m barrels a day, is now brought to the surface with the help of enhanced water-assisted methods. The water used in the oil sands “ends up in deep underground reservoirs meant that ”ultimately, it is lost from the normal water cycle(Simon 2002-08-09).

2002-11-27 Water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right. “The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights.” (UNESCO 2002-11-27).

2003-03 The 3rd World Water Forum held in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan “took the debate a step further also within the context of the new commitments of meeting the goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York (2000), the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn (2001) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002). The large number of participants ensured that a variety of stakeholders and opinions were represented aiming at accepting differences and finding a common way forward.” There were 24,000 participants, 1000 journalists and 130 ministers in attendance.

2004 A federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America.

2004-10-19 BBC News Online environment correspondent, Alex Kirby, explored fears of an impending global water crisis. In 2004 1/3 of the world’s population were already living in water-stressed countries. By 2025, this is expected to rise to two-thirds. His report includes some potential solutions including new technologies that could clean up polluted waters and so making more water useable, more efficient agricultural water-use practices, drought-resistant plants, collecting rainfall, dams, desalinisation. Many of these solutions would require huge quantities of affordable, useable energy sources which also poses an enormous challenge. Kirby concluded, “We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth’s supply (Kirby 2004-10-19).”

2005-02-16 The Kyoto Protocol climate change conference leading up to the Kyoto Accord was first debated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, to “establish a legally binding international agreement, whereby all the participating nations commit themselves to tackling the issue of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.” The objective was to stabilize and reconstruct “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Kyoto negotiations built upon the research of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which predicted an average global rise in temperature of 1.4°C (2.5°F) to 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100. The agreement finally came into force on 16 February 2005 when following ratification by Russia ratified it on 18 November 2004. As of 14 January 2009, 183 countries and the European Community ratified the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol include “commitments to reduce greenhouse gases that are legally binding; implementation to meet the Protocol objectives, to prepare policies and measures which reduce greenhouse gases; increasing absorption of these gases and use all mechanisms available, such as joint implementation, clean development mechanism and emissions trading; being rewarded with credits which allow more greenhouse gas emissions at home; minimizing impacts on developing countries by establishing an adaptation fund for climate change; accounting, reporting and review to ensure the integrity of the Protocol; compliance by establishing a compliance committee to enforce compliance with the commitments under the Protocol.” wiki

2005-06-08 John Vidal, environment editor for the Guardian based on according to US State Department papers, claimed that pressure from ExxonMobil, the world’s most powerful oil company, and other industries, influenced President George Bush in his decision to not sign the Kyoto global warming treaty(Vidal 2005-06-08).

2005-06-09 BBC reported that Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, “which helps devise and promote the administration’s policies on environmental issues [...] removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists.” According to the New York Times Cooney “made dozens of changes to reports issued in 2002 and 2003, and many appeared in final versions of major administration climate reports.” Rick Piltz formerly from the office of co-ordinates U. S. government climate research resigned and reported the watered down reports to the New York Times. Philip Cooney, a lawyer by training has no scientific education. He was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest oil industry trade group. He is a lawyer by training, with no scientific background. (BBC 2005-06-09).

2006-03-22 The 4th World Water Forum was held in Mexico City with seven days of debates and exchanges. Close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions where a total of 1600 local actions were presented. Participants included official representatives and delegates from 140 countries out of which 120 mayors and 150 legislators, 1395 journalists experts, NGOs, companies, civil society representatives were involved. The Ministerial Conference brought together 78 Ministers.

2006-03 Uruguay, Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries drafted a counter declaration at the 2006 World Water Forum when the official ministerial declaration did not include water as a human right (Karunananthan 2009-03-18).

2006-03 According to an article by (Coonan 2006-03-17, environmentalists viewed the 2006 completion of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River in China, the world’s biggest, as a monstrous natural catastrophe. Between one to two two million people were moved because their homes were flooded by the rising water of the reservoir. Environmental activist and journalist Dai Qing, the most famous opponent of Three Gorges dam, wrote a book entitled Yangtze! Yangtze!, for which she was imprisoned for 10 months in a maximum security prison and faced with the treat of the death sentence. She opposed the dam because of the lack of public debate, the lack of independent analysis. “Further along the river, construction of Xiloudu dam has begun, which will be the third biggest in the world when it is finished. Three other dams are in the exploration stage near Xiloudu – including one that will flood the beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge in Sichuan province. All four of these dams together will produce more electricity than the Three Gorges dam (Coonan 2006-03-17.”

2000 Oscar Olivera’s article in The Guardian described how the water wars began in Cochabamba, Bolivia when Bechtel, a large multinational, came there with the intention of taking control of the water supply and privatizing it in 2000.Olivera 2006-07-19.”

2006-08-31 The Alberta provincial government under Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences when they realized they had over-allocated water. Some growing municipalities with junior licences began the long and laborious process of negotiating transfers water licenses from willing irrigators and other senior licensees (Klaszus 2009-06-25).. “Alberta Environment announced the province will no longer accept new water licence applications for the Bow, Oldman, and South Saskatchewan sub-basins. Water allocations may still be obtained through water allocation transfers. The newly minted water management plan, the first of its kind in Alberta, will ban new demands from the three rivers, which are part of the South Saskatchewan River basin that feeds water to Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Brooks and Medicine Hat (Alberta Water).”

2006-2009 According to Alberta Environment about 30 water licence transfers have occurred between junior and senior licensees since 2006 when Premier Stelmach closed southern Alberta river basins to new water licences (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2007 The Province of Alberta’s budget showed a surplus of $8.5 billion. Alberta is the economic engine of Canada but it is also the country’s worst industrial greenhouse gas emitter. Calgary-based EnCana alone earned profits of $6.4 billion, a record-breaking sum. An energy war is predicted between Eastern and Western Canada (Kohler 2007-10-08).

2007-10-08 Journalist Kohler reviewed William Marsden’s (2007) book entitled em>Stupid to the Last Drop in which outlined the environmental threats posed by Alberta’s energy industry, claiming that the [province of Alberta were] going to be the “architects of their own destruction.” “Left unfettered, Alberta’s energy sector will, by the end of this century, transform the southern part of the province into a desert and its north into a treeless, toxic swamp. Driven both by global warming and oil and gas developments, temperatures in Alberta will soar by as much as eight degrees. The Athabasca River will slow to a trickle, parching the remainder of the province’s forests and encouraging them to burst into flame, generating vast quantities of CO2. (Kohler 2007-10-08).”

2007 Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices.” Tim Cestnick, of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, set the threshold for High New Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High New Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus. Bederman classified households with $1-million to $5-million as “mass millionaires.” There were 335,000 such households in Canada in 2007. There were 60,000 “penta millionaires” (with net worths of $5-million to $10-million) and 20,000 decamillionaire households with more than $10-million in 2007. Despite comprising only a fraction of Canada’s households, the wealthiest families control almost half the investable assets: $1.3-trillion of $2.4-trillion. The “vast majority” of that $1.3-trillion held by wealthy families is controlled by the decamillionaires. They are the ones with “family offices “Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14).

2007-10-03 Funded by a $30 million grant from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Ingenuity, (whose President and CEO is Dr. Peter Hackett) the Alberta Water Research Institute (chaired by Dr. Lorne Taylor, the former Minister of Alberta Environment) claim they will fund innovative, practical water research that will “tackle some of Alberta’s most pressing water-related environmental issues, including habitat decline, biodiversity loss, water flow and water quality. [T]he research will involve a multi-disciplinary approach — including biologists, engineers, economists and other social scientists — to provide the knowledge water users, managers, industry, policy makers and consumers to help them make informed choices. [T]he Alberta Water Research Institute works in collaboration with The Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI).” Their work focusses on Water Treatment and Recycling; Oilsands Tailings Treatment with water recycling; reducing water use in electrical power generation

2007-11-07 T. Boone Pickens engineered one of a shrewd takeover of an 8 acres stretch of scrub-land near Amarillo, Roberts County, Texas. The acquisition of this land was “central to Pickens’ plan to create an agency to condemn property and sell tax-exempt bonds in the search for one of his other favorite commodities: water. Approval of the water district was all but certain as Texans voted Tuesday in state and local elections. By law, only the two people who actually live on the eight acres will be allowed to vote: the manager of Pickens’ nearby Mesa Vista ranch and his wife. The other three owners, who will sit on the district’s board, all work for Pickens. Pickens “has pulled a shenanigan,” said Phillip Smith, a rancher who serves on a local water-conservation board. “He’s obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.” Pickens and his allies say no shenanigans are involved. Once the district is created, the board will be able to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Pickens’ planned 328-mile, $2.2 billion pipeline to transport water from the Panhandle across the prairie to the suburbs of Dallas and San Antonio. If Pickens can’t find a buyer for the bonds or for his water – and he hasn’t yet – he might buy the bonds himself to jump-start the project, said his Dallas-based lawyer, Monty Humble of Vinson and Elkins. The board will spend about $110 million to buy the right-of-way for the pipeline, using the power of eminent domain to acquire property if necessary, Humble said. Still, Pickens faces obstacles. To help pay for construction, he plans to piggyback wind power on the water infrastructure. He plans wind farms on the ranchland and wants to run electricity cables along the right-of-way of Mesa’s water pipeline. All told, the wind and water project is expected to cost more than $10 billion. Pickens said he has about $100 million invested so far. “This is a $10 billion project,” he said in an interview. “It better be profitable.” Most of all, he needs a group of confirmed buyers for his water. That’s in part because of political resistance to his plan for acquiring water rights. Several Dallas-area water districts have refused to sign up. “We have real concerns about private control of water,” said Ken Kramer, director of the Texas Sierra Club. “Water is a resource, yet in some respects it is a commodity. It’s as essential to human life as air. That puts water in a different class.” John Spearman Jr., a Roberts County rancher and chairman of the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District, is one of many local critics who contend that Pickens’ water play could upset conservation efforts and seeks to profit from shortages of a vital resource. “He has the legal authority to do it,” Spearman says. “We can’t stop him (Woellert 2007-11-07.”

2008-06-12 In 2008 he introduced “The Pickens Plan, [which called] for the United States to cut its dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third by making natural gas and wind power much bigger parts of America’s energy supply.” (CBC 2009-06-17.) “T. Boone Pickens [...] owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is looking to control even more. He hopes to sell the water he already has, some 65 billion gallons a year, to Dallas, transporting it over 250 miles, 11 counties, and about 650 tracts of private property. The electricity generated by an enormous wind farm he is setting up in the Panhandle would also flow along that corridor. As far as Pickens is concerned, he could be selling wind, water, natural gas, or uranium; it’s all a matter of supply and demand. “(Berfield 2008).” Business Week

2008-05-08 The U.S. Senate committee gave its approval to restore a 240 km stretch of the dried-up San Joaquin River and the historic Chinook salmon run spawning area. The settlement agreement, supported by almost every member of the California congressional delegation, anticipated spending as much as $800 million U.S. with farmers paying c. $330 million, and the rest from California bonds and the federal government.

2008-06 T. Boone Pickens a Texas oil tycoon, who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas. Pickens donated $2.25 million in 2006 to establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, which was created by Pickens’ long-time friend Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss with a gift of $15 million in 2004. In June 2008 Pickens donated another $25 million to research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which is the largest donation ever given to the University of Calgary by a single person and the only philanthropic donation Pickens has made outside the U.S. Pickens, who has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has given away $700 million from 2003 to 2008. Pickens lived in Calgary briefly in the 1960s working as a geologist ( “CBC 2008-06-20).”

2008-09-26 Molina and Chowla argued that the World Bank has been a principal financier of privatisation and has increasingly made its loans conditional on local governments privatising their waterworks. The ICIJ’s study of 276 World Bank water supply loans from 1990 to 2002 showed that 30 per cent required privatisation – the majority in the last five years (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“). The initial hopes for privatisation have faded as governments work towards de-privatization of water services (Molina and Chowla 2008-09-26.“)

2009-03-18The Council of Canadians, Our Water Commons, Food and Water Watch and other organizations held a panel at the official World Water Forum to launch a report highlighting success stories of communities working to protect the water commons through a communitarian approach to water management and calling for the recognition of water as a human right.Karunananthan 2009-03-18. .”

2009-03-16 to 2009-03-22 The world’s biggest water-related event, with over 25,000 participants, the Fifth World Water Forum was held in Istanbul, Turkey on the theme of “Bridging Divides for Water.”

2009-06 Jim Webber, general manager of the Western Irrigation District wants the province to respect the first-in-time, first-in-right licensing system to prevent an economic disaster for the 400+ farms east of Calgary and a handful of communities, including Strathmore (Klaszus 2009-06-25).

2009-03-29 The United States Congress appropriated $88 million to help fund the restoring of salmon spawning grounds as part of a bill providing wilderness protection to more than 2 millions acres in nine states.

2009-06-29 In California the debate has become increasingly polarized between agriculture and environmental interests over the distribution of water in the face of a three year drought that has left 450,000 acres unplanted in California as well as causing the third collapse of the salmon industry as the San Joaquin River spawning grounds dried up. (In 2004 a federal judge ruled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in violation of California law for not letting enough water flow which has resulted in the depletion of the historic Chinook salmon population on the San Joaquin River which it is claimed, once supported the southernmost salmon run in North America. ) In Fresno County alone, normally the US most important agriculture county, farmers cannot plant in 262,000 acres because of a lack of water.Cone 2009-06-29).

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

Notes

1. March 22nd is World Water Day

2. Since moving to Calgary, Alberta we have been following our source of city water. The Bow Glacier was stunningly beautiful last August. But like glaciers worldwide it is receding. The Elbow River which also flows through Calgary was very high this year even though much of Alberta’s farmland was experiencing a devastating drought. We’ve installed rainbarrels, planted drought-resistance perennials, overseeded our water-thirsty Kentucky grass with Sheep’s Fescue and generally tried to be more water wise, I am following water stories. Alberta has four major rivers tha drain most of the province: 1. The Peace and 2. Athabaska rivers drain the northern half of Alberta with their waters joining water from Lake Athabaska to form Alberta’s largest river, the Slave River, which flows into the Northwest Territories and on to the Arctic Ocean; 3. The North Saskatchewan River winds through the foothills and parkland of central Alberta. 4. The South Saskatchewan River, which is fed by three rivers that arise in the mountains, makes it way through dry farmland and prairie. The North and South Saskatchewan rivers join in the province of Saskatchewan and become the Nelson-Churchill system, and their waters eventually reach Hudson Bay There is also the smaller Beaver River, which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta
from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:3) For a detailed map and more information visit Alberta Water

2. Moore Lake, c. 280 km northeast of Edmonton is a very popular recreational lake in Alberta’s Lakeland Region. Moore Lake is part of the Beaver Lake watershed. It is a headwater lake with outlets from the east shore into Hilda and Ethel Lakes and eventually into the Beaver River (which flows through the heart of the Lakeland Region and then into the Churchill system and the Milk River, which passes briefly into Alberta from Montana before returning south to flow finally to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

3. History of Moore Lake and the Beaver River. “Woodland Cree occupied the region when the fur traders first arrived. The Beaver River, to the south of Moore Lake, was part of a major fur trade route from Lac Isle-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan to the Athabaska River. The first fur-trading post in the area was Cold Lake House. It was established by the North West Company in 1781 on the Beaver River near the present-day hamlet of Beaver Crossing (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:273).”.” “Moore Lake is underlain by the Muriel Lake Aquifer. In [1990] the principal water sources for regional water needs were the aquifers and not the lake. The largest water users in the area [were] the oil sands industries. Oil sands and petroleum and natural gas leases in the Moore drainage basin are held by several companies, including Esso Resources and Husky Oil. The oil sands permits allow the companies to test and set up drilling operations for subsurface oil deposits, including those under the lake surface. There are no signficant gas pools in the area. As a result of Alberta Environmental studies of the water resources in the Cold Lake-Beaver River basin in the early 1980s, a long-term plan for water resources management in the Cold Lake region was adopted by the government in 1985. Under the provisions of this plan, Moore Lake will not become a major water supply for the oil industry. Major industrial water users will be required to obtain their water from a pipeline from the North Saskatchewan River (Mitchell, Prepas and Crosby 1990:275).”

4. For amusement I am also reading an entertaining science fiction called Watermind that begins with a foaming journey of nano technology from Alberta down the Milk River flowing down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico collecting toxic waste and data all along the way.

5. Western-style lifestyles and diets which are heavy on beef require much more water than healthier cereal or pulse-based diets (1 kg of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water, while a 1 kg of cereals needs only up to three cubic metres). Pulse crops (including Dry beans, Kidney bean, haricot bean, pinto bean, navy bean, Lima bean, butter bean, Azuki bean, adzuki bean, Mung bean, golden gram, green gram, Black gram, Urad, Scarlet runner bean, Dry peas, Garden pea, Chickpea, Garbanzo, Bengal gram Black-eyed pea, blackeye bean, Lentil) commonly consumed with grain, provide a complete protein diet. Pulses are 20 to 25% protein by weight, which is double the protein content of wheat and three times that of rice. Pulses are sometimes called “poor man’s meat”. Pulses are the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people. In the Seven Countries Study legume consumption was highly correlated with a reduced mortality from coronary heart disease.

6. This Google Map below (a work in progress) traces some of the areas of concern regarding our watersheds where substantial control concentration of access, rights and strategic assets are quietly being acquired by individuals or individual families. The most troubling of these includes T. Boone Pickens who sees water as blue gold and already owns more of it than any other American. He thirsts to increase his water assets and he is now showing a great interest in Alberta. While he has carefully massaged his media image to be tauted as environmentally friendly and he has generously gifted the University of Calgary, his methods are shrewd, buying what others see as useless until they realize how much control he has over their water supply. He is persistent and worked for decades to change laws in his favour in the Canada River watershed in Texas.

7. Tim Cestnick, founder of WaterStreet Family Wealth Counsel, in 2007 set the threshold for High Net Worth HNW as $5-million to $20-million in net worth and for Ultra High Net Worth UHNW at $20-million-plus.

My Google Map: Blue Gold

Selected Bibliography

Anderson, Anne-Marie. 2000-04. “An Evaluation of Changes in Water Quality of Muriel Lake.” Limnologist, Water Sciences Branch, Water Management Division, Environmental Service.

Beck, Ulrich. 1992. Risk Society.

Barlow, Maud; Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water.

Barlow, Maud. 2004-03. Maude Barlow, CBC Interview. CBC.

CBC. 2008-06-20. “Billionaire hands U of C unexpected $25M gift.”

Brownsey, Keith. “Enough for Everyone: Policy Fragmentation and Water Institutions in Alberta” in Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 133-156.

CBC. 2009-06-17. “Texas oil billionaire eyes Alberta wind power.”

CBC. 2009-03-06. “Wind power: The global race to harness wind.”

Clarke, Tony; Barlow, Maude. The Battle for Water.

Cone, Tracie. AP. 2009-06-29. “Battle over water heats up in drought-stricken California.” USA Today.

Coonan, Clifford. 2006-03-17. “The dammed: Environmentalists watch and wait for opening of world’s largest dam.” The Independant.”

Dillon, Sam. 1998-01-28. “Mexico City sinking into depleted aquifer.”

Government of Ontario. 1998-03-09. “Government’s role in operation of water and sewage treatment systems to be reviewed.” Office of Privatization News Release. Toronto: Queen’s Park.

Helsinki Rules on the uses of the Waters of International Rivers. 1966-08. Adopted by the International Law Association at the 52nd conference, held at Helsinki. Report of the Committee on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. London: International Law Association (1967).

Idelovitch, Emanuel, and Ringskog, Klas. 1995-05. Private Sector Participation in Water Supply and Sanitation in Latin America. Washington: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

Kirby, Alex. 2004-10-19. “Water scarcity: A looming crisis?” BBC.

Klaszus, Jeremy. 2009-06-25.“Alberta poised to expand water market: Showdown looms as province reviews licensing system.” News.

Karunananthan, Meera. 2009-03-18. “Access to Sanitation Reserved for the VIPs at World Water Forum.” AlterNet.

Kohler, Nicholas. 2007-10-08. “Doomsday: Alberta stands accused: A huge fight between East and West — over the oil sands — is just starting.” Macleans.

Krugman, Paul. 2002-02-15. “Ersatz Climate Policy“. New York Times.

Marsden, William. 2007. Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).

McGillivray, Mark. 2005. Inequality, Poverty and Well-being. Helsinki, Finland. Palgrave Macmillan.

McLaughlin, Chris. 2009. “Instituting Change: Book Reviews.” Alternatives Journal. 35:34: 31.

Mitchell, Patricia ; Prepas, Ellie E.; Crosby, Jan M. Eds. 1990. Atlas of Alberta Lakes. University of Alberta Press.

Molina, Nuria; Chowla, Peter. 2008-09-26. “The World Bank and water privatisation: public money down the drain.”

Olivera, Oscar. 2006-07-19. “The voice of the people can dilute corporate power.” The Guardian.

Orwin, Alexander. 1999-08. “The Privatization of Water and Wastewater Utilities: An International Survey.” Environment Probe.

Postel, S. L. 1996. “Dividing the waters: food security, ecosystem health, and the new policies of scarcity.” Worldwatch Paper No. 132, P29. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute.

Postel, S. L. 1998. “Water for food production: will there be enough in 2025?” Biosciences. 28:629–637.

Sen, A. 1995. “Mortality as an indicator of economic success and failure.” Discussion paper 66. London School of Economics and Political Science.

Simon, Bernard. 2002-08-09. “Alberta Struggles to Balance Water Needs and Oil.New York Times.

Sproule-Jones, Mark; Johns, Carolyn; Heinmiller, B. Timothy. 2008-11-20. Canadian Water Politics: Conflicts and Institutions. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Sullivan, Caroline. 2002. (“Calculating a Water Poverty Index.”World Development. 30:7: 1195–1210.

Vidal, John. 2005-06-08. “Revealed – how oil giant influenced Bush“. The Guardian.

The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987.”Our Common Future.” Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Woellert, Lorraine. 2007-11-07. “Pickens makes a multibillion-dollar water play: Pipeline would transport Panhandle water to big-city suburbs.” Bloomberg News.

Chevreau, Jonathan. 2007-05-14. “Truly Affluent Require Wider Type of Service.” Financial Post.


From a political philosophy viewpoint, an apology is an ethical act by which the perpetrator admits responsibility for a heinous act, transfers shame from the victim to the perpetrator, restores the victim’s dignity, demonstrates the perpetrator’s commitment to a renewed ethical relationship of respect between the self and other which restores social harmony and reflects social justice. An apology from a psychological point of view, one that will provide the victim with closure and restored dignity, is timely, sincere and appropriate. In the adversarial legal system, an apology is an admission of guilt. This pits the moral imperative of the victims’ right to closure and healing against the legal imperative, the perpetrator’s right to self-defense. See Alter (1999:22).

In spite of the dramatic findings of the RCAP (1995), the federal government citing the legal imperative, hesitated to apologize for wrongdoings to protect the accused offenders’ rights to be presumed innocent.

There was great disappointment in January 1998 when the Minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs not the Prime Minister of Canada, delivered the Statement of Reconciliation on behalf of the Government of Canada to Aboriginal survivors of Residential Schools.

“Jean Chrétien …was not present when his government issued a formal apology to Canada’s aboriginal peoples last week. Chrétien’s absence was not lost on some chiefs, who grumbled that the apology lacked prime ministerial weight, was weakly worded and was not broad enough.” (Wallace 1998:111:3).

In June 2008 Prime Minister Harper delivered a formal apology that seemed to set aside concern for the legal imperative of guilty parties involved in the abusive residential schools and to focus on the moral imperative of survivors to closure and healing.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Alter, Susan. 1999. Apologising for Serious Wrongdoing: Social, Psychological and Legal Considerations. Law Commission of Canada.
2008-06-11. “We’re sorry,’ Harper says.” The Star. Toronto, ON.

Howard-Hassman, Rhoda E. 2002. “Moral Integrity and Reparations to Africa“. Untitled. G. Ulrich, L. Lindholt and L. Krabbe, Kluwer Law Publications: 39.

Wallace, B. 1998. “The Politics of Apology.” Maclean‘s 111:3. January 19.


Headlines in the New York Times, BBC and CBC News announce a crisis of confidence in the banking sector as an unintended consequence of the subprime mortgage meltdown. We are now experiencing the predicted disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds (Scott 2007) (such as the infamous collapse of two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market). Borrowers defaulting on mortgages continues to increase. In 2007 Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007). See Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn and Mortgage Meltdowns

Paul Desmarais, Jr., Chairman of Power Corporation of Canada warned of the structural impact on the industrialized world caused by the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds in the financial markets in a an article (2007) published in the Canadian Council of Chief Executives journal National and Global Perspectives. The current crisis in confidence in the banking sector is a direct result of the meteoric rise of private equity and hedge funds which transformed the mortgage market.

Is it not ironic that the principal investors in private equity and hedge funds – large institutional investors – are happy to put massive amounts of money in the hands of people who do not register with any securities commission, or have few, if any, governance regulations to adhere to and report on? (Desmarais 2007:16).

As well Mason and Rosner (2007) warned that risk continued to increase, as ratings agencies revised their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

Timeline of events related to the Subprime Market

1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).

1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).

1975 Foreign competition made its inroads into the North American economy. Corporations panicked with a knee-jerk reaction by implementing the first major layoffs which eventually spread and multiplied, in time destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work in North America (Uchitelle 2006; Uchitelle 2007).

1983 Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index experienced a long losing streak which would be unparalled until 2008-01-21 (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).

1986 The “total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average(Leary 1998:265).”

1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).

1987 Oliver Stone’s and Stanley Weiser’s fascinating but soulless film entitled Wall Street about a young stockbroker, Bud Fox’s entanglement in white-collar crime through his mentor and hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an extremely successful businessman and Wall Street broker. in a speech by Gekko to a Teldar Paper shareholders’ meeting, a company he planning to take over, Gekko, and by extension, the Wall Street raiders he personifies, justifies his actions. He argues that he is liberating corporate America’s from its slothfulness and waste accumulated through the postwar years. He argued, “Greed is good” a slogan which symbolised the ruthless, profit-obsessed, short-term corporate culture of the 1980s and 1990s. These values became associated with neoclassical, anti-union economic policies that made slash-and-burn capitalism possible. Wall Street refers to the symbolic and geographical location in Lower Manhattan, the first permanent home of the New York Stock Exchange, center of New York’s financial district and the financial industry.

1987 Stock market crash

1987-19-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 10.8% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-20 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 12.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-21 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 7.9% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-22 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1987-10-26 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 6.2% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).

1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).

1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).

1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).

1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”

1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”

1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.

1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

1992-04-10 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.6% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”

1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.

1996-12-05 “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.” Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**

1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.

2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

2001-09-11 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its worst days down 5.7% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-10-15 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2002-07-02 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 5.0% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2003-03-13 London’s FTSE 100 experienced one of its best days up 6.1% (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.

2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”

2005 Market analyst Winzer (2005 cited in Christie 2005) warned that the housing market was high-risk as the boom has already gone on longer than expected. Low interest rates which means cheap mortgage rates extended the cycle of the real estate boom artificially creating higher demand and higher prices as all market levels (Winzer cited in Christie 2005). “Winzer assesses local market risk by taking into account economic and population growth, construction costs, vacancy rates, and, especially, income. He also considers such factors as density and access to open land. Prices in densely settled New York have always been higher than those of cities with lots of space for new housing (Christie 2005).

1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005″ (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2006-06-12. “Canadian Executives Indicate Human Resources and Rising Canadian Dollar are the Major Business Challenges.” CTV. June 12, 2006.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20060611/ctv_release_20060611/20060612

2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1.

2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007. “Private equity, public interest.” National and Global Perspectives . May 10, 2007. p. 16.

2007-05-10 Desmarais, Paul Jr. 2007a. “Chairman’s Address to Shareholders.” Power Corporation of Canada. May 10, 2007.

2007-06-14 Gandalf Group. 2007. “C-Suite Survey On The Role of Private Equity.” Report on Business. Globe and Mail. June 14, 2007. http://www.dwpv.com/images/C-Suite_June_2007.pdf In May and June, 2007 the 150 C-Suite executives from the top 1000 corporations interviewed by the Gandalf Group were generally optimistic about the Canadian economy (Gandalf Group 2007:4). Some expressed concerns about the increasing levels of foreign ownership in key sectors and about private equity firms hollowing out corporate Canada. 23% have concerns that private equity firms engage in too much short-term thinking (Gandalf Group 2007:32). Most executives now favour restrictions in strategic industries. “The strongest areas of consensus about the negative impacts of private equity relate to keeping the company Canadian owned and about the debt burden of the company. A substantial percentage of executives believe that private equity also has a negative impact on the economic contribution the company will make to Canada and to the community it operates in, on the labour relations of the company and on the governance of the company (Gandalf Group 2007:28).”

2007. “C-Suite Survey.” Globe and Mail, Report on Business. 18 June 2007: B5.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/video/vs?id=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&ids=RTGAM.20070619.wvcsuite0619&hub=search

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007].” [T]hey caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. This [. . .] could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructuring and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007-06-27 “In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June, 2007 two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market [. . .] Those hedge fund investment managers create investments that are bought by our pension funds and mutual funds. Charitable foundations are invested in these. It’s a broad investor base, and it’s not the rich versus the poor.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).” See Democratization of Debt: Bear Stearn and Mortgage Meltdowns

2007-09-06 The U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown “Only 5% of mortgages in Canada are subprime compared to 20% in the US. And Canadian financial institutions are more prudent than their American counterparts insisting on mortgage insurance when appropriate and separate appraisals of a home’s purchase price to ensure they are not financing more than 100 per cent of a home’s value. In the US by late 2006 subprime lenders were going bankrupt and as many as 1.5 million Americans could lose their homes before the panic is over. In this under-regulated US industry, lenders partnered with hedge funds to make quick returns on investments then called in debts to avoid losses. Since we are all in some way linked to these investment portfolios, either through mortgages, pensions or insurance, we end up contributing to processes that are fuelled by high-risk, short-term, fast-profits thinking that enriches a few while causing havoc for most of us. See also http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/personalfinance/mortgage-meltdown.html

2007-11-27Staggering poverty report has province listening: A United Way report Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City claims almost 93,000 Toronto, Canada households are raising children in poverty. That’s 30% compared with 16 per cent in 1990.” OECD, Policy Development, Public Policy, child poverty, del.icio.us, digg story, digg.com, economic efficiency model, how to be poor in a rich country, policy research, social exclusion, vulnerability to social exclusion

2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”

2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”

2007 Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.

“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”

2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.

2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).

2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).

2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).

2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”
2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”

2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).

2008-01-12 Should banks avoid investing in carbon-intensive projects? “Ceres is composed of and works with investors ($4 trillion) and environmental groups to address sustainability challenges. In their report Corporate Governance and Climate Change (2008) they argue that the banking sector needs to become aligned with GHG reductions.” read more | digg story

2007-01-20Globalization and the Rise of Inequality: The extremes of wealth and poverty threaten globalisation. North American companies lose jobs to the Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) where factories often employ rural women to work in 19th century conditions to keep their costs low. Meanwhile the total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average. Globalization “refers to the current transformation of the world economy the reduction of national barriers to trade and investment, the expansion of telecommunications and information systems, the growth of off-shore financial markets, the increasing role of multinational enterprises, the explosion of mergers and acquisitions, global inter-firm networking arrangements and alliances, regional economic integration and the development of a single unified global market. The phenomenon of globalization is accompanied by increasing international mobility, the migration of workers, the growth of tourism and the increasing ease of international travel (Leary 1998:265).”

2008-01-19 The Bush administration announce they are seeking “a stimulus package of as much as $145 billion”. However the stock market did not respond positively as investors were concerned that the looming American recession would trigger economic crisis that will span the globe. See (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 “Global stock markets have tumbled, with European indexes set for some of their biggest losses in recent years, amid growing fears of a recession in the US (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-20 “Global stock markets plunged on Monday as fears spread that the turmoil in United States mortgage markets is spreading. Indexes in Europe fell as much as 7 percent after a huge sell-off in Asia. “There’s something approaching panic in the market,” Holger Schmieding, the chief European economist at Bank of America in London, said by telephone. “There’s been a reassessment in the market of the U.S. economic outlook, with most people now thinking that there will be a recession,” and investors are starting to reconsider the idea that the rest of the world “will remain aloof from U.S. problems [. . .] The selling began in Sydney, with Australian stocks falling nearly 3 percent for an 11th consecutive decline. Major markets in Asia followed suit, with the benchmark Nikkei 225-stock average in Tokyo falling 3.9 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong falling 5.5 percent and the benchmark mainland Chinese index falling more than 5 percent (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 London’s FTSE 100 index fell 4.5% to 5,637.3 (BBC News 2008-01-21).

2008-01-21 Hugues Rialan of Robeco France says we are in a panic mode and a crisis in consumer confidence as the banking sector’s reassurances that they were not overexposed to US mortgage-related investments, prove to ring hollow and false. The banking sector lost consumer trust when they lost of “billions of pounds on investments linked to the US housing and mortgage markets (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “Australia’s benchmark ASX 200 index closed down 2.9%, or 166.9, points at 5,580.4″, amid growing fears of a recession in the US. This is ASX 200 index’s “lowest level for a year. It was also the 11th consecutive negative day for the index, the longest losing streak in more than 25 years (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

2008-01-21 “There may be more downturns in store for Asia, particularly as banks report the fallout from their investments in the United States mortgage market. Companies “have not announced their year-end numbers yet,” Schuller, of Moody’s, said, and if they are holding subprime assets, they may need to write-off their value, she said. “They are going to be taking these 25 to 30 percent haircuts we’re seeing on Wall Street,” she said. “I think it is going to shock people.” [This article which appeared in the New York Times was written by David Jolly reporting from Paris and Heather Timmons from New Delhi. Tim Johnston contributed reporting from Sydney, and Martin Foster from Tokyo (Jolly and Timmons 2008-01-21).”

2009-01-21 Analyst Mike Lenhoff at Brewin Dolphin Securities predicts that the prospect of falling US interest rates announced by the US administration will have a positive effect on the market by January 2009 and the crisis mode of January 2008 and the drop in global indexes based on fears of a US recession will be proven to be a panicked knee-jerk reaction (BBC News 2008-01-21).”

Bibliography and Webliography

BBC. 2008-01-21. “Global shares tumble on US fears.” BBC News on-line. Uploaded 2008/01/21 16:10:48 GMT. Accessed 2008-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/business/7199552.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7199552.stm

CBC News. 2008. “TSX plunges 500 points.” Last Updated: 2008-01-21:13:26 ET.

Jolly, David; Timmons, Heather. 2008-01-21. “Stocks Plunge in Europe and Asia on U.S. Recession Fear.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/21/business/22stox-web.html?_r=1&ei=5088&en=f84e22b0fa01257e&ex=1358658000&oref=slogin&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Selected Bibliography and Webliography: Leary, Virginia A. 1998. “Globalization and Human Rights.” In Symonides, Janusz (Ed.) Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. pp. 265-276. 2007. “Rich man, poor man.” The Economist. Jan 18th 2007. Accessed January 18, 2007

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Risk Society: Unintended Consequences of Subprime Market.” >> Google docs. January 21. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_505grfcrtgj


Joseph E. Stiglitz’ major international bestseller (2002) entitled Globalization and its Discontents is an indictment against policies of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and World Bank that unintentionally but relentlessly increased vulnerabilities of the poorest groups and nation-states to the advantage of an unfettered market. In his 2003 publication entitled The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade Stiglitz forcefully argues for a more balanced relationship between State and the Market by elaborating on outcomes and unintended consequences of the free market (neoliberal, market liberal) ideologies that shaped US Presidents Reagan and Bush I administrations national economic policies from c.1980-1992. He reveals the deceptions, distortions and disasters caused by the idealization of the private sector and demonization of government programs and regulations that Stiglitz claims led to the boom and bust of the 1990s. Stiglitz holds a Nobel laureate in Economics (2001), was member then Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (1993-1997), senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000.

In an attempt to understand the Sachs-Stiglitz debate I am reading both. The overarching theme which concerns me is the moral mathematics that leads to the current disequilibrium. As a bricoleuse I am using technologies and software to heighten the findability of useful resources for a more informed civil society, one that includes moderate civil religions. Editor of Rollo May argued forcefully that “the terms ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’ employed by Sachs should refer to the state of one’s digestion, and have nothing whatever to do with truth (May 1982).

Jeffrey D. Sachs (2007) argued that those who challenged his unbounded optimism in human capacity to find solutions to our man-made problems through the use of human reason and spirit are promoting ideas that are dangerous and defeatist. He is convinced that humans can continue to build on the 17th century Enlightenment belief in Reason and Science to create a New 21st Century Enlightenment that still includes Adam Smith’s concepts of international markets and Condorcet’s improved harnessing of resources. Like his hero John Maynard Keynes, Sachs occupies a liminal space between the academic and political arenas. We can now develop sustainable smart technologies so that those in wealthier countries do not have to sacrifice but rather can maintain our current high-consumption level through smarter living while making poverty history through a New Politics of global co-operation, an Open-Source Leadership capable of providing concrete actions such as anti-malaria mosquito nets, universal access to anti-retroviral medications by 2010 and voluntary reduction of fertility rates in poor countries. His optimistic vision of a practical, attainable, dynamic, changing peace that meets the challenge of each new generation is “based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.” He dismisses those who question our ability to change or who feel depressed by his unabashed optimism in such dark times, as promoting a dangerous defeatist belief. He advocates commandeering the US military budget, debt cancellation for the poorest nations and zero sum redistribution. Whereas his solutions for economic reform for Bolivia in 1985 involved a rapid shock treatment approach to combat hyperinflation, he now advocates a gradualist approach in the evolution of human institutions. He calls for transparent timelines and responsibilities towards Gleneagles promises. He lists off historical acheivements such as the end of slavery, debt-relief, WHO programs as a rebuttal to the historic reality of the 20th century’s unfulfilled good intentions and unacheived goals.

Sachs claims that human reason can solve the unsolvable: “Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man, and man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute infinite concept of universal peace and goodwill of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams, but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal (Sachs 2007-04-11).”

Sachs on over-consumption: “I do not believe that the solution to this problem is a massive cutback of our consumption levels or our living standards. I think the solution is smarter living. I do believe that technology is absolutely critical, and I do not believe on the evidence that I’m going to be discussing in these Lectures that the essence of the problem is that we face a zero sum that must be re-distributed. I’m going to argue that there’s a way for us to use the knowledge that we have, the technology that we have, to make broad progress in material conditions, to not require or ask the rich to take sharp cuts of living standards, but rather to live with smarter technologies that are sustainable, and thereby to find a way for the rest of the world, which yearns for it, and deserves it as far as I’m concerned, to raise their own material conditions as well. The costs are much less than people think. You are making the argument that this is so costly we don’t dare do it (Sachs 2007-04-11).”
Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British Ambassador to the United States and currently Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission rejected Sachs’ overoptimistic assumption that human nature can make such a marked change that would lead to the solutions Sachs proposed. Meyer argued that history has proven otherwise.

I am still reading Stiglitz’s The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade in my non-linear fashion. It is strange that his message is more uplifting to me that Sachs. To be continued . . .

Some useful key concepts emerging from these readings to be developed:

Anthropocene is a term coined by Paul Crutzen which “is the idea that for the first time in history the physical systems of the planet — chemical fluxes, the climate, habitats, biodiversity, evolutionary processes — are to an incredible and unrecognised extent under human forcings that now dominate a large measure of the most central ecological, chemical and bio-physical processes on the planet – the hydrological cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the location and extinction of species, and basic physical habitats. Of course human forcings have always played their role. We know that the hominids already controlled fire a million or more years ago, and therefore changed landscapes, even before the rise of homo sapiens. But never has the control of such fundamental processes been determined by human forcings, and we’ve barely awakened to that reality (Sachs 2007-04-11).” This is the the first of three challenges discussed by Sachs (2007-04-11) that face humankind in 2007. [. . .] Sachs’ discussed “the Anthropocene in Beijing, China, which soon will be the country that is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet, and one that faces its own profound challenges of water stress, which will worsen, perhaps immeasurably, as the glaciers of the Himalayas melt and as the seasonal timing of snow melt from the Himalayas changes the river flow of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers and other rivers of Asia. The Anthropocene tells us that it’s not just about one problem, as Sir Nicholas Stern, one of the intellectual leaders of our time, has brilliantly exposed in his report for the UK government. It’s not only the problem of mass extinctions, or only the problem of the mass destruction of fisheries in the North Atlantic and in many other parts of the world. We are weighing so heavily on the Earth’s systems, not only through carbon dioxide emissions changing climate but through carbon dioxide emissions acidifying oceans, through destruction of habitat, which is literally driving perhaps millions of species right off the planet. We are over-hunting, over-fishing, and over-gathering just about anything that grows slowly or moves slowly. If we can catch it we kill it. Our capacity in the Anthropocene is unprecedented, poorly understood, out of control, and a grave and common threat (Sachs 2007-04-11).”

Folksonomies

Globalization, Economic conditions, Economics, International Monetary Fund, IMF, World Trade Organization, WTO, World Bank, Washington Consensus, WB, neoliberal, market liberal, vulnerability to social exclusion, at-risk populations, extremes of wealth and poverty, moral mathematics,

A Tag cloud for Jeffrey D. Sachs’s Reith Lectures tbc

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Bursting at the Seams, Reith Lectures, BBC, 1948, Royal Society of London, 1660, slavery, empire, humanist, project of modernity, Enlightenment project of material progress, reason, Adam Smith, economics, global market, international markets, technology, Wilberforce, anti-slavery, 1770s, Condorcet, harness reason to grow more crops and to extend life expectancy, [John Locke], important scientific issues of the day, leaders of thought and action, new enlightenment, John Maynard Keynes, John Kennedy, Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963, Cuban missile crisis, between academic and political, restore[d]? broken economies, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, global co-operation, harnessing resources, catastrophe, physical geography, epidemiology, climate stress, rain-fed agriculture, drought-prone savannah climates, disease, zoonotic disease, hunger, pollution, clash of civilisations, over-populated world, increasing risk, increasing instability, increasing hatred, tribalism, corruption, ignorance, fanaticism, modern history, Western Darfur, Beijing, China, water stress, acidifying oceans, Himalaya glaciers melt, Yangtze River, Yellow Rivers, Asia, carbon dioxide, geopolitics, fiction of United States as New Rome, leaders of thought and action, optimistic epistemic communities, Sir Nicholas Stern, multi-disciplinary, reason and faith, human nature, gradualism versus shock treatment, concrete actions, anti-malaria mosquito nets, 2010 universal access to anti-retroviral medications, child survival, rapid demographic transition, voluntary reduction of fertility rates in poor countries, Paul Crutzen, Anthropocene, Age of Convergence, women and development, Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia, Africa, over-consumption, maintain consumption level with smarter living, knowledge, technologies, redistribute zero sum that must be re-distributed, Sir Christopher Meyer, open-source leadership, new politics, unfulfilled good intentions, unacheived goals, 2001, World Health Organisation, AIDS, 2005 Make Poverty History, transparent timelines and responsibilities towards Gleneagles promises, GlaxoSmithKline, commandeering the US military budget, practical economics, 1985 debt cancellation for poorest countries, short-term thinking, addressing poverty at home, dangerous defeatist belief versus unbounded optimism.

Timeline of Social History

1776 Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, argued in his 1776 treatise The Wealth of Nations that the market leads us as if by an invisible hand to economic efficiency. Although Adam Smith’s thoughts on this were more circumspect, he is cited by those who since then have argued for unfettered markets. For a critique of the invisible hand argument see the work of Nobel Peace Prize winners Gerard Debreu and Kenneth Arrow (Stiglitz RN 2003:13).

Post WWII

1950s Nobel Peace Prize winners Gerard Debreu and Kenneth Arrow ‘established the conditions under which Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” worked. These include a large number of unrealistic condition, such as that the information was either perfect, or at least not affected by anything going on in the economy, and that whatever information anybody had, others had the same information; that competition was perfect; and that one could buy insurance against any possible risk. Though everyone recognised that these assumptions were unrealistic, there was a hope that the real world did not depart too much from such assumptions – if information were not too imperfect, or firms did not have too much market power – then Adam Smith’s (1776) invisible hand theory would still provide a good description of the economy. This was a hope based more on faith – especially by those whom it served well – than on science (Stiglitz RN 2003:13).”

1980 – 1992 During US Presidents Reagan and Bush I administrations national economic policies were shaped by free market ideologies who idealized the private sector and demonized government programs and regulations (Stiglitz RN 2003:12).

1987 Stock markets fell on October 19 by 23% erasing nearly a quarter of Corporate America’s capital (Stiglitz RN 2002:62).

1991 An economic downturn, a recession, began [in the US?] (Stiglitz RN 2003:54). Between 1990 and 1992 3.5 million people in the US were added to the unemployment pool while millions of others lost well-paying jobs and were forced into underemployment (Stiglitz RN 2003:40). The US federal government lowered interest rates but not quickly enough (Stiglitz RN 2003:40).

1992 President Bush was defeated largely due to poor economic performance (Stiglitz RN 2003:48). Economic circumstances were unsual [in the US?] (Stiglitz RN 2003:54).

1993 President Clinton largely owed his election to the faltering US economy. In January 1993 unemployment was at 7.3%, the US GDP was shrinking by -0.1% and the budget deficit had increased to 4.7% up from 2.8% in 1989 (Stiglitz RN 2003:40-1). Clinton made deficit reduction his priority setting aside his social agenda of job creation. Clinton under the advice of his risk-taking New Democrat economists (including Stiglitz) went against the standard theory of economics that held that deficit reduction slowed down economies and increased unemployment. They took the risk that they would succeed in backloading the nation’s deficit into a future more prosperous time (Stiglitz RN 2003:41). Clinton proposed taxation of polluters (emitters of greenhouse gases) (Stiglitz RN 2003:48).

1997 The meltdown of Asian economies

1997 Stiglitz in Ethiopia, Thailand and Russia

1997? Stiglitz resigned when his protestations about the fundamental wrongness of policies that force already vulnerable economies into capital liberalisation were met with disdain by his political masters.

Webliography and Bibliography

Bibliography and Weliography

May, Rollo. 1982. “The Problem of Evil: An Open Letter to Carl Rogers.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Summer:20.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2007. “Bursting at the Seams.” Reith Lectures. BBC. No. 1. April 11, 2007. 9am. http://www.bbc.co.uk/print/radio4/reith2007/lecture1.shtml?print

Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2002. Globalization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ECO-STI-GLO
Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2003. The Roaring Nineties: a New History of the World’s Most Prosperous Decade. New York: W. W. Norton.

Notes to be developed . . .

The standard theory of economics in the ??? held that deficit reduction would slow down recovery and increase unemployment (Stiglitz RN 2003:41).

Keynes theory of economics was that . . . (Stiglitz RN 2003:41).

New risk management that Clinton applied in 1993 was smaller government and smaller deficit (Stiglitz RN 2003:41)?

The New Democrats like President Bill Clinton and his administration in 1993, were a loose group of politicians, academics and policy makers who called for a revamping of the Democratic Party. They wanted to replace the overuse of bureaucratic solutions with greater concerns for policy impact on business and the marketplace (including Stiglitz?) (Stiglitz RN 2003:12).


CC 3.0 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Sachs-Stiglitz debates: Nobel and Reith.” >> Google Docs. Uploaded December 14, 2007. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_433djbf9mfx

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