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- conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts.
- engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, esp. trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price.
- a speculative commercial venture or undertaking
isn't it time for the rampant abuse of America's Wall St. Economy and our national capital to be reigned in and regulated to run without speculation ?
I live on Main St. and I certainly think so.
The Kaufmann foundation conducted a phone survey on who will save america, here's the results:
-- Only 7 percent of Americans believe that "nothing is at risk" for them personally during this economic meltdown. More than one in three people polled (34 percent) see everything--jobs, homes and investments--as equally vulnerable and at risk during the crisis.-- One in four (26 percent) said the impact of the financial crisis will be "very bad" or "devastating" with another 34 percent saying it will be "pretty bad" for them personally.-- Sixty-four percent of Americans think that Main Street will suffer the most severe consequences from the economic crisis; 16 percent think Wall Street will be hardest hit.
Global Bankers Anxiously Watch U.S.
Financial Leaders, Exasperated by American Discord, Realize Limits of Own Powers
By Craig Whitlock and Mary Jordan -Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, October 1, 2008; A12
BERLIN, Sept. 30 -- Central bankers and elected leaders around the world acknowledged Tuesday that they lacked a comprehensive strategy to protect their countries from the global financial crisis and were as dependent as ever on Washington to come up with a solution.
In Europe, France and Belgium propped up another failing bank Tuesday, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited his counterparts from Britain, Germany and Italy to an emergency summit. But officials, exasperated by the defeat of the $700 billion rescue plan in Washington, said they were quickly realizing how little power they had to act on their own to confront a rising threat to their economies and financial markets.
"The Americans have no choice," Christian Noyer, head of the French central bank and a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank, told Germany's RTL radio network. "We must have a comprehensive solution."
Added Patrick Steinpass, chief economist for the German Savings Bank Association: "All I can say is that I simply cannot imagine that the Americans will not come up with some sort of a solution. Anything else is outside the realm of my imagination."
In the meantime, banks continued to fail and markets quivered. Dexia, a lender on the verge of collapse, received a $9.2 billion bailout. It was the fifth time since the weekend that European governments have been forced to rescue a threatened institution, shattering the confidence expressed by many officials as recently as last week that their banks would ride out the crisis comparatively unscathed.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average fell by more than 4 percent Tuesday, closing at its lowest level in more than three years. Trading was suspended in Russia for two hours in response to heavy losses, although markets there later recovered. Other major indexes bounced back from heavy losses Monday, with exchanges in London, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, posting modest gains.
Major Latin American markets regained lost ground Tuesday, as the Dow Jones industrial average rose 485 points.
In India, politicians assured nervous investors that their accounts were safe. "There is nothing to worry about the Indian market," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said at a news conference. He noted: "We are suffering the consequences of turbulence around the world."
But anxious customers began to withdraw money from India's largest private bank, ICICI, in what analysts called a lack of faith in institutions that lack government backing.
Economic experts in New Delhi advised India's central bank to make more cash available to lenders to ease a credit shortage and restore investor confidence. Indian companies are mired in a liquidity crunch. Foreign investors -- who have been pulling out of road-building, information technology and real estate projects -- fund many private businesses.
"India and other emerging economies are not isolated, and the idea that they are is a real myth," said Rajiv Kumar, chief executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. "What we see happening is investors from abroad pulling back their investments to improve their balance sheets back home. That offers a real picture of doom and gloom for emerging markets like India."
Smaller countries also tried to calm jittery markets. In Ireland, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced a plan to guarantee deposits in domestic banks, without limit, for the next two years. The proposal lifted the Irish stock market after it had dropped by 13 percent Monday. "What we're guaranteeing here is the lifeblood of the banking system," Lenihan said. "Were liquidity to dry up in the Irish banking system in the weeks ahead, the inevitable result would be economic catastrophe for this country."
Lenihan called on the European Union to agree on a "common standard of protection" for bank deposits. "We are a small, exposed economy," he said of his country, "more globally exposed than any economy in the E.U."
In recent days, France's president has conducted a flurry of meetings and speeches to address the credit crisis. But Sarkozy has not come up with any concrete proposals to restore order in the markets or prevent other bank failures.
His aides conceded Tuesday that for the moment, the French government was mainly occupied with trying to head off catastrophe.
Last week, Sarkozy proposed holding a global financial summit by the end of the year, after the U.S. presidential election. But reports in Paris said the idea stalled after he received a lukewarm response from President Bush.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy called in the chief executives of nine major French banks to meet with him at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday morning along with Prime Minister François Fillon, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Noyer, the Bank of France chief. The main purpose was to ensure that the crisis does not choke the French economy by cutting off credit to businesses and consumers, according to Sarkozy aides.
Georges Pauget, director general of Credit Agricole and head of the French Banking Federation, tried to reassure shareholders and depositors after the meeting, saying the government is ready to act if necessary to bolster weak banks. "The whole French array is solid, diversified, and it benefits from the support of public authorities."
The summit that Sarkozy called for Tuesday would bring together political leaders of the Western European members of the Group of Eight industrialized countries. As described in Paris, the meeting would help restore confidence in European banks and lay the groundwork for a broader international conference to revamp the world monetary system.
Many European leaders said they were horrified at the political infighting that has marked the U.S. Congress's handling of the rescue plan. "I feel they've taken leave of their senses," said Peter Mandelson, the E.U. trade commissioner. "I hope that in Europe, we will not see politicians and parliamentarians replicating the sort of irresponsibility and political partisanship that we have seen in Washington."
In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Monday's vote in the House "very disappointing." His chief rival, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, said Europe needed to learn from Washington's mistakes. "Today is a time for us to send a clear message to our political opponents and the country: Let us not allow the political wrangling that took place in America to happen here," Cameron said.
Britain is drafting legislation that would make it easier for the government to step in and save failing lenders. The government is also considering a plan to guarantee private bank deposits up to $90,000, up from the current maximum of $63,000.
So far, however, the European approach has been fragmented. Only 15 of the 27 E.U. member countries use the common currency, the euro.
Lacking ability to fashion a unified response, officials at the headquarters of the E.U. in Brussels pointed their fingers back at Washington, alternately lecturing and pleading with their U.S. counterparts to act.
"The United States must take its responsibility in this situation, must show statesmanship for the sake of their own country and for the sake of the world," Johannes Laitenberger, a spokesman for the European Commission, told reporters.
In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was "of incredibly great significance" that Congress approve a rescue plan by the end of the week, calling it "the precondition for creating new confidence on the markets." Merkel's comments came as German financial officials were finalizing an emergency $51 billion rescue of the country's second-largest commercial property lender, Hypo Real Estate Holding.
Hypo nearly collapsed over the weekend, just days after German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck declared that the country's banking sector was "extremely stable" and that the credit crisis was primarily "an American problem."
Last week, Germany and other countries rejected feelers from the U.S. Treasury Department about coordinating a global rescue of ailing banks. But there were signs that European opposition was fading.
Steffen Kampeter, a parliamentary leader on budget issues for Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, said German lawmakers might be receptive to such an approach if Congress is unable to act in the next few days. "This was and is a global problem that requires international solutions," he said. "We expect a signal from the Americans for what type of strategy to follow."
Ordinary Europeans said they, too, were counting on Washington.
"We are looking to America to shine a light, to find a resolution forward, and quick," said Ivan Hallworth, 45, a computer salesman interviewed in a bookstore in central London.
"We're all focusing on Congress and what's happening and looking to America for leadership," he added. "We have every confidence America will pull through."
Jordan reported from London. Correspondents Edward Cody in Paris and Emily Wax in New Delhi and special correspondents Shannon Smiley in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report
U.S. Crisis Deepens Divisions in S. America
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, October 1, 2008; A13
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 30 -- As his popularity has surged and his nation's booming economy has lifted thousands from poverty, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has largely refrained from the angry criticism of the United States that can be heard nearly any day from other South American leaders.
Not this time.
Last week, Lula told the U.N. General Assembly that the "boundless greed" of a few should not be shouldered by all, and on Monday he said emerging economies had done their best to have "good fiscal policy" and "can't be turned into victims of the casino erected by the American economy."
"This crisis belongs to the American bankers, to the European bankers. It doesn't belong to the Brazilian bankers," Lula said Monday. "It's not fair for Latin American, African and Asian countries to pay for the irresponsibility of sectors of the American financial system."
The U.S. financial crisis has stung emerging markets and angered leaders who have swallowed American advice about fiscal responsibility for years. In Latin America, where several leaders have made their ideological differences with the United States a central part of their rhetoric, the crisis appears to have further degraded U.S. credibility.
"They've always been critical of the U.S. for its negative agenda, drugs and immigration, but the economy was seen as the one positive thing, and this crisis probably puts that in a different light," said Michael Shifter, vice president for policy at Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.
Across Latin America, there is a growing division between countries that embrace certain U.S.-backed free-market policies, often referred to as the "Washington consensus," and those that renounce them. The leading anti-U.S. spokesman is President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who traveled to Brazil on Tuesday and urged Latin American countries to continue disconnecting from the U.S. economy, which he called a "wagon of death."
"The world will never be the same after this crisis," Chávez told reporters in Manaus, where he met with Lula and Bolivia's President Evo Morales. "A new world has to emerge, and it's a multipolar world."
Chávez predicted oil prices would drop to between $80 and $95 a barrel as a result of the financial turmoil. He also said the crisis shows why it is urgent to speed the creation of a Latin American regional development bank, known as Bank of the South.
Morales said that in Bolivia, companies are nationalized so that people can have money, while the United States "wants to nationalize debt and the crisis of the people that already have money."
Bolivia's finance minister, Luis Alberto Arce, said in an interview that countries such as Bolivia with few ties to international capital markets have just started to feel the impact of the crisis. But if the United States doesn't bolster its economy quickly, he said, Latin American countries can expect declines in commodities prices, exports and remittances from relatives living abroad.
In Argentina, the world's third-largest exporter of soy and wheat and second-largest exporter of corn, concerns are focused primarily on falling commodity prices and the potential for economic slowdown after several years of strong growth. Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said Monday in Buenos Aires that "old paradigms are changing."
"We need to have an open mind about the possibility of intelligent interaction between the government and the markets. And forget the theory that the markets have to do all or nothing, and vice versa," she said.
Some analysts and economists worried that the countries that sometimes express antagonism toward the U.S. economic model and emphasize more state intervention -- Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and to a certain extent Argentina -- would exploit the crisis for political benefit.
"I hope that McCain and Obama understand well there is a very, very important debate that will become critical next year, about the ideology of economic development -- whether the state should lead development or whether the market should be the main force," said Carlos Langoni, a former Brazilian central bank president, referring to U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
After a sharp drop in the stock market and a devaluation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar, both measures rebounded slightly in Brazil on Tuesday. Since a large percentage of Brazilian exports goes to China, the fate of that economy is of more immediate importance than what happens in the United States. Still, some economists are predicting that Brazil's growth rate, projected to be about 5 percent this year, could fall as low as 2 percent in 2009 if a recession takes hold in the United States.
"For Brazil, this is a very low rate. Brazil was beginning a cycle of sustainable growth," Langoni said. "This would be a very serious drawback."
Special correspondents Brian Byrnes in Buenos Aires and Andres Schipani in La Paz contributed to this report
Young Chinese Rethink U.S.-Style Capitalism
By Ariana Eunjung Cha - Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 30, 2008; A13
SHENZHEN, China -- The gray waters around the port of Yantian are ominously empty. It's supposed to be peak season here, a time when the docks are filled with exporters shoveling holiday goods onto freighters bound for the United States faster than the ships are able to receive them.
Instead, irritated truck drivers, logistics coordinators and other workers stand idle, smoking and complaining that business is so slow that their income has dropped by two-thirds, because of the deteriorating U.S. economy, with which this region is so closely linked.
The community that once bragged about its close ties to the United States now rues them.
Li Hongguo, 36, who was ferrying a load of handbags from a factory to the port, said that last year he made one or two runs a day. These days he's lucky to get one job every three to four days.
"America is the boss of the world, so if it does badly, it affects everyone else," Li said.
Nowhere is this view more pervasive than here in China's Pearl River delta, where the majority of companies exist with the single goal of producing products for U.S. consumers.
Stakeholders in China are watching the trials and tribulations of the massive U.S. economic rescue package, rejected Monday by the House of Representatives, as closely as Americans are.
For better or for worse, economists say, China and the United States are like conjoined twins. "The two economies are mutually reliant and mutually influential," explained Hua Min, director of Fudan University's Institute of World Economy in Shanghai.
Once the envy of the nation for its abundant jobs and high wages, Shenzhen -- the birthplace of China's experiment in capitalism -- is experiencing an economic downturn in tandem with the United States.
Industry groups estimate that tens of thousands of factories making products from ball bearings to shoes to furniture have closed over the past year. Weighed down by the problems here, growth in China's gross domestic product for 2008 is expected to slow to a single digit for the first time in 11 years.
On a recent weekday at Yantian, the majestic, nearly 1,300-foot-long container ships that once graced the waters were gone. With shipping volume down for the first time in the port's history -- by 5 to 7 percent depending on the month -- the larger ships had been reassigned to other ports in China with goods headed for anyplace but the United States. Only half-size freighters are left to serve Yantian's port.
"Orders to the U.S. have been reduced by 40 percent," said Angela Hao, general manager for the Shenzhen office of the City Ocean shipping company. "At the moment everybody is struggling, trying to see who will survive."
Sun Junshan, who works in sales for Shenzhen Jiao Technology, said that when she was growing up she thought America was "heavenly -- everyone is living well and there are good benefits for Social Security and medical care."
"Now I feel like China is number one, not the U.S., because China has money," Sun said.
The U.S. economic problems have shaken the foundation of what many Chinese have been taught in the 30 years of Communist leader Deng Xiaoping's "reform and opening up" campaign, which was built around the idea, as Deng famously said, that "to get rich is glorious." The U.S. system that was once held up as a model now seems full of weaknesses.
China's leaders say their country can still learn from the United States -- from its mistakes, that is.
Ever since Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, was honored with becoming the country's first special economic zone in 1979, residents of the area have been China's keepers of the American dream. Today the landscape around the city, with its big houses and big cars, is the closest thing China has to U.S.-style suburbs.
Xiong Ming, 28, who works at a shipping company focused on the port of Yantian, is part of a generation that grew up with the gospel of American capitalism.
Raised on Hollywood movies, Xiong built his career on close business relationships with the United States.
When he graduated from college six years ago with an economics degree, Xiong took a marketing job with Cosco, China's premier shipping company. With his strong English skills, he did so well that a former colleague soon offered him a management position at a competitor that sent goods to California's ports in Long Beach and Oakland.
For a while, Xiong prospered. Like other employees, he often made $4,400 to $5,800 a month with commissions -- a fortune in a country where the average annual urban salary is $2,000.
But today most workers are making $750 to $1,500.
If the U.S. economy doesn't pick up, his current employer will probably have to lay off some of its 20 employees in Shenzhen or even shut down. "Right now we haven't hit bottom yet. We see things getting worse and worse," he said.
Xiong, a marketing manager at Dragontrade Logistics, said that if he had it to do over, he would choose to work more with Europe, or emerging economies in areas such as the Middle East, or even with Chinese companies that he once thought were old-fashioned.
The U.S. troubles have made him reconsider the benefits of communist, state-run support, he said.
"In the U.S., the workers at the gold-chip companies are carrying out their desks in boxes," Xiong said. "But in China, the jobs are still here because they are more protected."
Researchers Crissie Ding and Wu Meng contributed to this report.
Pakistan officials: 6 killed in US missile strike
By MUNIR AHMAD - The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 1, 2008; 12:41 PM
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A suspected U.S. missile strike on a Taliban commander's home in Pakistan killed six people, officials said Wednesday, a possible indication that Washington was moving ahead with cross-border raids despite protests from the new government.
The attack was the first since President Asif Ali Zardari warned that its territory cannot "be violated by our friends."
American forces recently ramped up cross-border operations against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the Pakistan's border zone with Afghanistan _ a region considered a likely hiding place for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Late Tuesday, missiles fired by a U.S. drone aircraft struck the Taliban commander's home near Mir Ali, a town in North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, said two intelligence officials, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.
Citing reports from their field agents, the officials said six people died, but did not identify any of the victims.
U.S. officials in Afghanistan or Washington rarely acknowledge the attacks.
Pakistan says the attacks often result in civilian casualties and serve to fan extremism. American officials complain that Pakistan was unwilling or unable to act against the militants.
Militants in the border region are blamed for rising attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and attacks within Pakistan, including the Sept. 20 truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed more than 50 people.
In Spain, a document marked confidential and bearing the official seal of Spain's Defense Ministry alleged that Pakistan's spy service helped arm Taliban insurgents in 2005 for assassination plots against Afghan government officials.
Chief Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said the report was "baseless, unfounded and part of a malicious, well-orchestrated propaganda campaign to malign" the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.
"ISI is the first line of defense of Pakistan and certain quarters are attempting to weaken our national intelligence system," Abbas said, without elaborating.
The document, which surfaced just after Pakistan's military chief chose a new head of the spy agency, also alleged that Pakistan may have provided training and intelligence to the Taliban in camps set up on Pakistani soil.
The report, which was obtained by Cadena Ser radio and posted on the station's Web site Wednesday, said the spy agency helped the Taliban procure explosives to use in attacks against vehicles.
Pakistan vehemently denies that members of the spy agency have aided the Taliban. In the 1990s, however, the ISI's agents helped build up the Taliban.
U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements of the spy agency may still be giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid their insurgency in Afghanistan, even though officially Pakistan is a U.S. ally in fighting terrorism.
Some analysts say elements in the spy agency may want to retain the Taliban as potential assets against longtime rival India and believe Pakistan's strategic interests are best served if Afghanistan remains a weak state.
India and Afghanistan _ and reportedly the U.S. _ suspect the ISI of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul, which killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies it.
In London on Wednesday, British officials announced that the children of its diplomats in Pakistan have been ordered to leave the country. The Foreign Office said the decision was the result of a security review following the Sept. 20 Marriott hotel bombing.
Britain's embassy in Pakistan is one of its largest overseas missions. The Foreign Office said about 60 children of British-based embassy staff are being withdrawn. All are under the age of 8. Any other diplomats' dependents who wish to leave may also do so.