Wolf Richter

Tokyo Tidbit: Minister Calls Tsunami Victims ‘Idiots’

The new ministers just can’t keep their mouths under control—that’s the problem with the cabinet of Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, himself in office only since September 1. This time it was Tatsuo Hirano, ironically the Minister for Disaster Management, who issued the latest gaffe by calling tsunami victims “idiots.”

Regulators Knew of Dexia’s Problems But Were Silenced

When a bank is allowed to collapse, the lies behind its financial statements come out of the woodwork—and Dexia, the bailed-out French-Belgian mega-bank that re-collapsed in early October, is no exception: a report surfaced with the damning results of an earlier investigation by French regulators. And then? Nothing.

Tough Day For Our Calamity Economy

The ugly numbers speak volumes on how the Fed’s policies hurt the real economy. But those policies enable Congress and the White House to run up ruinous budget deficits that make those of the Eurozone look benign.

That’s inflation—not jobs, wages, or GDP.

German-French Fight Breaks Out Over Frigates

Germany and France kissed and made up before the G-20 powwow in Paris last weekend. A contrived show of unity to boost the markets. And it worked. But already, Germany is sniping at France again. Over money. Because German taxpayers might have to subsidize a French company. Via Greece.

Fighting over taxpayer money.

Tokyo Tidbit: High Radiation, False Alarm, Real Danger

All heck re-broke loose online when the Associated Press reported that a local resident, equipped with a dosimeter, had discovered a highly radioactive hotspot in a residential area of Tokyo, 145 miles from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Foreign media jumped on the story and speculated. But this time, it was different. And what else is hidden under floorboards?

Greece’s Extortion Game

“Tax fraud is a national plague,” said Greece’s finance minister after he found that Greeks owed $50 billion in back taxes. But it’s complicated. And not much will happen to collect them though Greece might go bankrupt in weeks. Meanwhile, civil servants paralyze the country with strikes because salaries and bonuses are on the chopping block—the most curious bonuses….

The Brutal Trade Deficit

At $46 billion in August and a hair-raising $376 billion year to date, the trade deficit is a powerful descriptor of what’s wrong with the U.S. economy. By year end, it will amount to half a trillion. Economic activity gone overseas. The cause: an ancient and valid business principle that is now harming the overall economy.

France’s Fishy Denials as Mega-Banks Teeter

“We don’t have any doubt about the solidity of French banks,” said the French government—a week after the collapse of Dexia. All eyes are now on Société Générale and BNP Paribas. BNP is the world’s largest bank with assets of $2.8 trillion, dwarfing France’s $2.1 trillion economy. And they’re desperately trying to sell assets to stay afloat.