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https://wolfstreet.com/2017/10/21/catalonias-political-crisis-snowballs-into-an-economic-crisis/

Catalonia’s Political Crisis Snowballs into an Economic Crisis
by Don Quijones • Oct 21, 2017 • 28 Comments   


Independence would be “horrific” and amount to “financial suicide,” said Spain’s Economy Minister. But financial suicide for whom?
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

It’s not easy being a Catalan bank these days. In the last few weeks the region’s two biggest lenders, Caixabank and Sabadell, have lost €9 billion of deposits as panicked customers in Catalonia have moved their money elsewhere. Many customers in other parts of Spain have also yanked their savings out of Catalan banks, but less out of fear than out of anger at the banks’ Catalan roots.

Moving their official company address to other parts of Spain last week may have helped ease that resentment, allowing the two banks to recoup some €2 billion of deposits. But the move has angered the roughly 2.5 million pro-independence supporters in Catalonia, many of whom have accounts at one of the two banks. Today they expressed that anger by withdrawing cash en masse.

Many protesters made symbolic withdrawals of €155 — a reference to Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which Madrid activated today to impose direct rule over the semi-autonomous region. Others opted for €1,714 in a nod to the year 1714, when Barcelona was captured by the troops of King Felipe V, who then proceeded to suppress the rights of rebellious regions.

Some bank customers withdrew a lot more than that. The council of Argentona, a small town outside Barcelona, closed its accounts at Caixabank and Sabadell and transferred all €2.25 million of its funds to a branch of the Dutch lender Triodos. If other institutional or business customers follow Argentona’s example, Caixabank and Sabadell could have a big problem on their hands.

The fallout of political instability in Catalonia is being felt across the whole economy. Real estate investment in the region, both domestic and foreign, is drying up. Starwood European Real Estate Finance, the European subsidiary of the U.S. property giant Starwood Capital, has announced that it’s shifting its focus away not only from Catalonia but Spain as a whole, and toward more stable European markets.

It’s not just investments that have been put on hold. People are not spending much either. Important consumer purchases have been put on hold until some semblance of stability returns, and people are not going out as much as before. Based on my own observations, the bars are emptier and the streets are quieter.

Tourism to Catalonia, Spain’s most visited region last year, slumped by 15% in the two weeks following the referendum on independence, according to industry experts. Catalonia received about 18 million visitors last year, and tourism accounts for around 12% of the region’s GDP, with industry and trade as the other main contributors.

Those sectors are feeling the pinch too, partly due to the dark clouds of uncertainty and dread surrounding the region’s short-term future, but also as a result of a gathering boycott against Catalan products in other parts of Spain.

“There is a widespread rejection of Catalan products and more and more restaurants and supermarkets are changing the brands they offer,” says Bartomeu Servera, the president of a food and beverage trade association in the Balearic Islands. “It is especially noticeable in the drinks sector, but it affects all products that are identified with Catalonia.”

It’s not just Catalan companies that are being hurt. Many Catalan products include components and raw materials from other parts of Spain. A case in point is the Catalan ready-made pizza company, Tarradellas, which has been on the sharp end of the boycott for months. The tomato sauce it uses to top its pizzas is provided by Conesa, a tomato-processing company in Extremadura, an impoverished region on the border of Portugal in the South West of Spain.

Speaking to the Extremaduran newspaper Hoy Conesa’s Managing Director, Manuel Vázquez Calleja, warned that “by refusing to buy Catalan products such as those of food company Tarradellas, we could be shooting ourselves in the foot, as their pizzas are covered with our tomatoes… Probably the tuna they use comes from Galicia and the flour from Andalusia.”

This self-defeating pattern is a constant feature of the economic tug of war between Madrid and Catalonia — a war that began when Madrid seized full control of the accounts of Catalonia’s 298 regional public bodies in the wake of the banned referendum on Oct. 1. Shortly after that the Rajoy government passed a law making it much easier for Spanish companies to move their registered address.

The move helped spark a mass exodus as over a thousand Catalan-based businesses, including six of the seven firms listed on Spain’s benchmark index, the IBEX 35, opted to move their registered address outside Catalonia. The extent to which it was a voluntary move is debatable. Some companies, including Spain’s car manufacturer SEAT, have accused the Spanish government and King Felipe VI of pressuring them to leave the region.

On Thursday Spain’s Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, raised the stakes even further, warning that the independence of Catalonia could spark a bank run in the region. Independence would be “horrific;” it would amount to “financial suicide,” he said.

But financial suicide for whom?

The web of interdependency between Spain and Catalonia is so tightly woven that if one goes down, the other goes with it. Catalonia accounts for 20% of Spain’s GDP, and roughly a quarter of Spanish exports and the government’s tax revenues. Without it, there’s no way the Spanish State would be able to meet its gargantuan financial obligations — not even with Mario Draghi’s help!

This point, despite being glaringly obvious, rarely gets a mention in the Spanish press. It’s one of the reasons why so many Spanish people seem to think that Catalonia’s economy can be severely weakened without there being serious repercussions for the rest of the country. Some even see it as a zero-sum game: what’s bad for Catalonia’s economy must be good for Spain’s.

Another dangerous myth is the absurd notion that Catalonia’s independence movement can be snuffed out with just the right amount of political repression and cultural cleansing. A region where roughly half of the population wants greater autonomy is about to have what little autonomy it still has snatched away from it.

By activating Article 155 today to revoke Catalan autonomy, Madrid has set itself on a risk-strewn path whose final destination is far from clear. What is clear is that from this point on Madrid will have full control of the main organs of institutional power in Catalonia, including the region’s police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Finance Ministry will maintain complete oversight of every cent that is spent or raised by the regional government, at least until new elections are held. It will also take over Catalonia’s public television and radio broadcasters to ensure they are more “neutral.”

Madrid has announced plans to call regional elections in January. Hard-line elements within the governing People’s Party have proposed banning all pro-independence parties from taking part, but that may be a step too far even for Rajoy’s government, which has still not clarified whether it plans to have Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and other elected leaders arrested.

Naturally, these measures, which are more fitting of a capricious tin-pot dictatorship than a modern, self-respecting democracy, will do nothing to improve relations between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Moody’s warned this week that activating article 155 may ensure that Catalonia remains a part of Spain in the short term, but over the long haul it will make it even more difficult to resolve the conflict.

If anything, the repression is more likely to strengthen rather than weaken the resolve of Catalonia’s independence movement. As 29 Nobel laureates wrote in a letter urging the Spanish government and the EU for dialogue and mediation in the conflict, a people that feels repressed rarely goes quietly into the night. By Don Quijones.
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Scott Pruitt    says subsidies give renewables an unfair edge, and here’s why he’s a monumental hypocrite

LAST UPDATED ON OCTOBER 10TH, 2017 AT 4:37 PM BY ALEXANDRU MICU
Mom says I’m good at Photoshop, ok?  ;D Image credits me / ZMEScience, free to use with attribution.

In a pioneering display of cognitive dissonance, EPA chief Scott Pruitt said on Monday that he would to do away with subsidies for renewable energy and let them “stand on their own and compete against” other sources of energy, such as fossil the latter being heavily subsidized, and has been so for decades. 
 




Another week, another Pruittism This Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator said that he believes federal tax credits for wind and solar power should be eliminated in the interest of fair play on the energy market.

I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” he told attendees at a Kentucky Farm Bureau event.

“I’d let them stand on their own and compete  ;) against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level,” he further explained.

Now, I like hypocrisy just as much as the next guy (spoiler alert: I don’t ) but Mr. Pruitt definitely went to previously un-dredged lows with that announcement. To see why, let’s take a look at what subsidies are and how they play out across the energy sector.

Here’s the too long; didn’t read version, presented by David Hochschild, a commissioner with the California Energy Commission, at the Energy Productivity Summer Study in Sydney in February 2016. Image via CleanTechnica.


Subsidy, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary

A grant or gift of money: such as:
a) a sum of money formerly granted by the British Parliament to the crown and raised by special taxation
b) money granted by one state to another
c) a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public.

We’re interested in the latter meaning of the word. Let’s take a look at the subsidies Mr. Pruitt would do away with:

1.Wind power currently enjoys a tax credit of about 2.3 cents per kWh produced, and the measure starts phasing out this year and will expire completely in 2020.
2.Solar energy investments get tax credits equal to 30% of their sum to encourage companies to invest in the sector. These credits will expire completely by 2022.

These incentives enjoy wide support among environmentalists and Democrats, while direct competitors of renewable in the energy market obviously oppose them, as do some Republicans. They’ve been touted again and again as the sole reason why renewable energy has seen such rapid growth in recent years, and the fossil fuel industry has been endlessly complaining they’re an unfair advantage.

Now let’s take a look at the subsidies oil, gas, and coal receive, as quantified by researchers at Oil Change International (full report at the bottom of the article). The sums in brackets are the estimated costs per year of these subsidies. Find a comfy seat, ’cause this is going to take a while.

The monetary black hole that is fossil fuel subsidies

Exploration and production related:

1.Intangible drilling oil & gas deduction ($2.3 billion): Independent producers can fully deduct costs that aren’t directly related to the final operation of wells (such as labor, surveying, ground clearing, including development costs). Integrated companies can deduct 70% up front and the rest of 30% over five years.
2.Excess of percentage over cost depletion ($1.5 billion): Independent fossil fuel producers can deduct a percentage of their gross income from production, reflecting reservoir depreciation.

Non-production related:

1.Master Limited Partnerships tax exemption ($1.6 billion): A special corporate form that is exempt from corporate income taxes and publicly-traded on stock markets, primarily available to natural resource firms, the majority of which are fossil fuel companies.
2.Last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting ($1.7 billion): Allows oil companies to assume for accounting purposes that they sell the inventory most recently acquired or manufactured first. When inventory is experiencing increasing prices, LIFO assigns the most recent prices to cost of goods sold and oldest prices to remaining inventory, hence resulting in the highest amount of cost of goods sold and lowest taxable income for the company. It gets even better! LIFO-like measures are prohibited under international financial reporting standards.

Fire-sale on federal lands:

Author’s note: these methods hand over energy resources from public lands and federally-controlled waters to the fossil fuel industry at extremely low relative prices.

1.Lost royalties from onshore and offshore drilling ($1.2 billion): outdated royalty exemptions, rate setting, and procedures for assessing oil and gas production on federal lands shortchange taxpayers by more than a billion dollars each year. If the federal government were to charge a 20% royalty rate for onshore drilling, the lowest rate charged by the state of Texas, taxpayers would benefit from an additional $3 billion in revenues.
2.Low-cost leasing of coal-production in the Powder River Basin ($963 million): allows coal companies to lease federal land at low costs in the Powder River Basin (PRB), a mostly federally-owned coal-producing region in Wyoming and Montana that accounts for 40 percent of U.S. coal production (and 85 percent of coal production from federal lands). By exempting from ‘major coal producing region’ status, the federal government did away with requirements to plan and monitor coal production according to a systematic management process, making for significantly lenient lease rates in the PRB.

From now on I’ll just give a few examples in each category, and I’ll keep them short because most of you are probably dozing off by now.

Coal Bailouts:


Author’s note: as coal companies become insolvent, taxpayer dollars cover their obligations to communities and workers.
1.Inadequate industry fees recouped to cover the Abandoned Mine Land Grant Fund ($400 million).
2.Inadequate industry support to cover worker health impacts ($330 million).

Pollution subsidies:

1.Deduction for oil spill penalty costs ($334 million).
2.Tar sands exemption from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund ($47 million).

Subsidies that lock in fossil fuel dependence:

1.Enhanced oil recovery credit ($235 million in 2017, could cost $8.8 billion over the next decade according to The Office of Management and Budget).
2.CO2 sequestration credit ($95 million).

Gets hard to follow, so here it is in chart form for 2016:







Add everything up and you get $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare. One-fifth of that goes to coal, the rest to oil and gas. Another factor at play here is continuity and length of these subsidizing schemes.

Another graph presented by Hochschild in Sydney, showing the short-term nature of the subsidies for renewable energy.


Quote
“There is a myth around subsidies, but there is no such thing as an unsubsidised unit of energy,” Hochschild told RenewEconomy after his presentation, and CleanTechnica later picking up on the quote here. “The fossil fuel industry hates to talk about that,” he added.

He explained that oil depletion allowances have been in place since 1926 and would continue, despite the fact that oil is “one of the most profitable industries in the world.” Insurance costs for nuclear plants, “without which there would be no nuclear plants,” are also a subsidy, CleanTechnica goes on to write. Drilling or fracking, which have been made exempt from compliance with the safe drinking water act, also serve as a subsidy by allowing natural gas companies to cut costs.

US wind and solar industries were stifled with repeated changes to their federal support mechanisms. The tax credits have been changed seven times in a decade, according to Hochschild.

“How can you plan a wind turbine factory or project in those types of conditions?” he asked.

A sliver of a crumb

Everything I’ve listed above is only part of the direct subsidies fossil fuel companies receive in the US, because the OCI only looked at direct production subsidies. OCI notes that the estimates of state-level subsidies are probably low, since many states don’t report the costs of tax expenditures (i.e., tax breaks and credits to industry), so data is difficult to come by.

Add to the above roughly $14.5 billion in consumption subsidies (things like Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps residents pay for heating bills,) $2.1 billion in subsidies for overseas fossil fuel projects, and probably the single greatest offender, indirect subsidies. This latter category involves things like the money the US military spends to protect oil shipping routes, or the unpaid costs of health and climate impacts from burning fossil fuels, which are naturally really hard to quantify precisely but navigate in the region of hundreds of billions of dollars.

It’s not happening in the US alone. According to the International Energy Agency, global subsidies for fossil fuels outweigh those for renewable energy more than 10-fold — CleanTechnica estimates it’s more than 13-fold if you don’t count biofuels. Vox reported that the International Monetary Fund estimates the world spends $500 billion in direct subsidies for fossil energy, a figure that increases to about $5.3 trillion a year after indirect spending (including environmental damages) are factored in.

But only Mr. Pruitt has the audacity to claim subsidies unfairly favor renewables, and they should be scrapped. It’s both hilarious and infuriating when the chief of the EPA says that, considering that the US’ subsidy policy on renewables is “hey we’ll help cover a bit of the cost of each unit of energy a wind turbine produces, and any company that invests in building solar energy will get just shy of 1/3 of that investment as a tax reduction. For the next 3-5 years.” Then it turns around and shells some $30 billion to fossil fuel companies every year.

Why? Well, as OCI concludes:

“In the 2015-2016 election cycle, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $354 million in campaign contributions and lobbying and received $29.4 billion in federal subsidies in total over those same years — an 8,200% return on investment.”

Every penny of that is paid from your pocket. Every year, your taxes pay for a company’s search for new deposits and the means to exploit them, its tax breaks, covers accounting artifices that are banned under international financing standards, forfeiture of royalties, dirt-cheap leasing, and finally they cover the costs when that company pollutes your air and water or simply fracks up big time and spills something or goes insolvent. Every year, some starting as far back as the 1900s.

All of it so that a fossil fuel company can keep making money, despite the fact that renewables can take up the job for less spending, fewer health impacts, less wealth concentration. And with 100% less global warming cover-up shenanigans.

So tell me again about how energy companies need to “stand on their own and compete” Pruitt, you brass-necked hypocrite.

OCI’s full report is available here. For a more comprehensive list of the subsidy schemes energy companies enjoy, as well as more details for the ones I’ve listed here, you can use the Green Scissors database.

https://www.zmescience.com/science/scott-pruitt-energy-subsidy/


The Fossil Fuelers DID THE Clean Energy  Inventions suppressing, Climate Trashing, human health depleting CRIME,   but since they have ALWAYS BEEN liars and conscience free crooks, they are trying to AVOID   DOING THE TIME or     PAYING THE FINE!     Don't let them get away with it! Pass it on!   






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Quote
Dismissing the Victims

Dismissing victims is not unusual for this administration and for the EPA. The agency's new chief, Scott Pruitt, spends his time on the road meeting privately with corporate CEOs responsible for these toxic waste sites. He then takes their wish-lists back to Washington so he can draft new ways to roll back the environmental protections they loathe.

But local community leaders, with few exceptions, have not been given the opportunity to talk with Pruitt.

Full article:

Hurricane Victims Don't Have the "Complexion for Protection" Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Video of Oil Rig Fire in St. Charles Parish

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bzexnm-ySTY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Bzexnm-ySTY</a>

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/o7vT1sF637A" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/o7vT1sF637A</a>


One Missing, Six Injured in Platform Explosion on Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

October 15, 2017 by gCaptain

Full article with a photo:

http://gcaptain.com/multiple-injuries-in-platform-explosion-on-lake-pontchartrain-louisiana/
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Agelbert Newz / Trump's Game Plan: Racism and Violence as Decoys
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 03:46:30 PM »


Trump's Game Plan: Racism and Violence as Decoys

By Robert Lipsyte, TomDispatch | Op-Ed

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Quote
The latest revelations of the link between playing pro football and brain injuries put the NFL in the same league with those other classic civic criminals, the tobacco companies and the Big Oil promoters of climate change denial, not to mention a sycophantic media that offered years of cover for all the deniers by creating a false balance in its reporting and claiming a lack of definitive scientific evidence.

EXCELLENT article:

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/42312-trump-s-game-plan-racism-and-violence-as-decoys

After that one, please read, and pass on to your friends and family, this one:

Trump and Pence's War on Black Athletes Has Nothing to Do With Sports Saturday, October 14, 2017

SNIPPET:
Quote
Like his boss Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence is a lazy racist. Trump's public demands nothing more because they are easily satisfied by the thought of humiliating black and brown people. Last Sunday, Pence spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to fly from Las Vegas to an NFL game in Indiana. His plan? To stage a political stunt where he showed his displeasure towards "uppity" black football players who are protesting police brutality and social injustice in America.

Agelbert NOTE: Getting Americans, particularly WHITE Americans, to realize they are being suckered BIG time (as were their bigoted ancestors since they got off the boat from Europe) with racist divide and conquer tactics/"wedge" issues and reject that manipulation by uniting with people of all colors  to stop the pillage of our planet by ANTI-free market/competition, PRO-monopoly Capitalist Cruelty Elite ENEMIES OF HUMANITY, is like herding cats.

I think it's time for this fellow to "take care of business":


The double talking LIARS and SELECTED BRAIN DEAD BULLSHIT ARTISTS that curse this benighted forum will, OF COURSE, claim they do not have a racist bone in their body... S-U-U-U-U-R-E. Here is a photo of one them below:


AND, to those who will, NO DOUBT, claim the above photo fits me far better than you innocent, logical, prudent, practical, high IQ (and so on) gifts of evolution to this planet (and to ungrateful "whiners" like myself  :evil4:), my friends below describe my view of that claim:


   
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70 Years Of Big Money Controlling Politics (w/Guest Harry Truman)   

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/8EW1oaWaxv8" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/8EW1oaWaxv8</a>


Thom Hartmann Program

Published on Oct 18, 2017

It is such a unique time to be alive today, given Donald Trump, the state of America, geopolitics, it would be interesting to see what great American heroes like F.D.R. Henry Wallace and Harry Truman have to say about the situation regarding billionaires taking over the government...

Thom brings us a 70 year old clip of President Harry Truman doing just that and in this speech we get to see that the 1% trying to control politics isn't anything new.

SUPPORT THE PROGRAM
► Join us on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/thomhartmann where you can also watch a re-run of the three hour program at any time
 
AUDIO PODCASTS
► Subscribe today: http://www.thomhartmann.com/podcast
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The American Oligarchy (= FASCISM) is Already Here!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/0dx9HskSwcA" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/0dx9HskSwcA</a>


Is America heading to Oligarchy, no... it's already there and this is how we can stop it!

Thom Hartmann Oct. 19, 2017 5:00 pm




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Agelbert Newz / Our Summer of Fire and the Fires to Come
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 02:48:37 PM »

California fires spread quickly in record-breaking heat - Some 3,000 firefighters were deployed in California



Our Summer of Fire and the Fires to Come

Thursday, October 19, 2017

By Curtis Johnson, Truthout | News Analysis



SNIPPET:

The connection of climate change and a warming planet to increasing forest fires isn't just confirmed by observational statistics. Scientific studies have started quantifying the contributions of a warmer planet to increasing fires. A 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that over half of the increases in "fuel aridity" (metrics that measure the degree of lack of moisture in fuels) since the 1970s, and a doubling of the amount of forest area burned since 1984 were due to human-caused climate change. A 2017 study in the same journal concluded global warming was responsible for increasing the severity and probability of the hottest monthly and daily events in 80 percent of the globe that they were able to study.

full article:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42309-our-summer-of-fire-and-the-fires-to-come



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DemocracyNOW!

CA Rep. Khanna: “We Can’t Control Environmental Catastrophes Caused by Extreme Climate Conditions

OCTOBER 16, 2017

https://www.democracynow.org/2017/10/16/ca_rep_khanna_we_can_t
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