Christine Lagarde says ‘conspiracy’ against women makes the world poorer

Managing director of the International Monetary Fund says too many countries still restrict the right of women to contribute to their economies

Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.

“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”

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What Is China Building In The South China Sea?

Submitted by Ethan Rosen via BellingCat.com,

The South China Sea contains some of the planet’s most disputed territory. Six countries – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei – are squaring off as they compete over the rights to the sea.

The dispute centers on the contested Spratly Island Chain, a hodgepodge of small islands and submerged reefs which lie near the center of the South China Sea. All but Brunei have built military outposts in the Spratlys, and all of these countries minus China have built military airstrips on the islands. China, which arrived late to the Spratly land-grab, was left to occupy eight fully and semi-submerged reefs. With such little land to build upon, China has been playing catch up ever since.

Over the past year, China’s Spratly outposts have been systematically undergoing a process known as “land reclamation,” where dedicated dredging vessels dig up sediment from the sea and dump it on top of submerged reefs to make islands. China has already built five islands through reclamation, and at least two additional islands are in the early stages of development. China is not the first claimant to reclaim land – Malaysia’s Swallow Reef and several Vietnamese islands have been artificially built or extended – but China’s reclamation efforts are operating at a larger scale than any previous project. Already, the artificial island built on Fiery Cross Reef has eclipsed Taiwan’s Taiping Island as the largest in the Spratly Chain, and buildings are under development on several other Chinese reefs. As their new military outposts become operational, it is imperative that we understand just what China is building in the South China Sea.

Ten Banks, Including JPM, Goldman, Deutsche, Barclays, SocGen And UBS, Probed For Gold Rigging

No matter how many times the big banks are caught red-handed manipulating precious metals, some failed former Deutsche Bank prop-trader (you know who you are) will take a vociferous stand based on ad hominem attacks and zero facts that no, what you see in front of you is not precious metal rigging at all but a one-off event that has nothing to do with a criminal banking syndicate hell bent on taking advantage of anyone who is naive and dumb enough to still believe in fair and efficient markets.

The last time this happened was in November when we learned that “UBS Settles Over Gold Rigging, Many More Banks To Follow”, and sure enough many more banks did follow, because in Europe, where the stench of gold market manipulation stretches far beyond merely commercial banks, and rises through the central banks, namely the BOE and ECB, culminating with the Head of Foreign Exchange & Gold at the BIS itself, all such allegations have to be promptly settled or else the discovery that the manipulation cartel in Europe involves absolutely everybody will shock and stun the world, which heretofore was led to believe that such things as gold market (not to be confused with Libor or FX) manipulation only exist in the paranoid delusions of a few tinfoil fringe-blogging lunatics.

However, as usually happens, someone always fails to read the memo that when it comes to gold-market manipulation one must i) find nothing at all incriminating if one is a paid spokesman for the entities doing the manipulation such as former CFTC-sellout Bart Chilton or ii) if one can’t cover it, then one must settle immediately or else the chain of revelations will implication everyone.

This time, that someone is the US Department of Justice, which as the WSJ just reported, is investigating at least 10 major banks for possible rigging of precious-metals markets. The DOJ is shockingly doing so “even though European regulators dropped a similar probe after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, according to people close to the inquiries.” Of course, the reason why said probe was dropped in Europe is because it would have implicated virtually the entire trading desk at the biggest and most important European bank: Deustche Bank, as well as the biggest bank in Switzerland, UBS and UK’s own Barclays, reveal a manipulation cartel rivaling even that of Libor. And once traders at the commercial banks turned sides and squealed for the prosection, well then it would be the central banks’ turn next. Which is why it was imperative to bring this investigation to a quiet end.

But not in the US.

According to the WSJ, “prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday.

HSBC also said the Justice Department sought documents related to the antitrust investigation in November. The two probes “are at an early stage,” the bank added, saying it is cooperating with U.S. regulators.

Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! … which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.

Robert Hockett, a law professor at Cornell University, said it is “not particularly surprising” that the Justice Department is plowing ahead despite the decision by European regulators. Recent scrutiny of big banks’ operations in the physical commodities markets and criticism of the Justice Department’s financial-crisis track record make it “quite understandable” that the agency would investigate allegations of precious metals price-rigging.

“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” HSBC’s ‘Reforming’ CEO Sheltered Millions In Swiss Bank Accounts

Oops! Amid new money-laundering allegations against HSBC’s Swiss arm, The Guardian reports that leaked files show that CEO Stuart Gulliver sheltered US$7.6 million in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company. While a spokesperson for the bank said that taxes were paid on these funds in Hong Kong, when asked why he used a Panamanian company to hold the funds, given Swiss accounts already offer secrecy, they declined to comment. With Gulliver stating, “the business has been transformed and standards are now up to scratch,” we prsume, of course, that the PR spin will be: who better to refocus the ‘new’ HSBC on battling tax fraud than someone who has been there and done that…

Despite US/Israel Demands, ‘Isolated’ Russia Offers Iran Advanced Anti-Aircraft Missiles

With proxy wars mounting and “isolated” Russia ratifying The BRICS Bank this week, we are sure Washington is preparing to double-down on 'costs' (to Europeans) as Reuters reports, Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missiles (ironically after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was dropped under Western pressure in 2010). While the United States and Israel lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, the head of Russian state defense conglomerate, Sergei Chemezov, says, “as far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet.”

This Is The Biggest Problem Facing The World Today: 9 Countries Have Debt-To-GDP Over 300%

If anyone has stopped to ask just why global central banks are in such a rush to create inflation (but only controlled inflation, not runaway hyperinflation… of course when they fail with the “controlled” part the money paradrop is only a matter of time) over the past 5 years, and have printed over $12 trillion in credit-money since Lehman, the bulk of which has ended up in the stock market, and which for the first time ever are about to monetize all global sovereign debt issuance in 2015, the answer is simple, and can be seen on the chart below.

It also shows the biggest problem facing the world today, namely that at least 9 countries have debt/GDP above 300%, and that a whopping 39% countries have debt-to-GDP of over 100%!

Ron Paul: “Interventionism Kills” Post-Coup Ukraine One Year Later

Submitted by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute For Peace & Prosperity,

It was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. That coup was not only supported by US and EU governments — much of it was actually planned by them. Looking back at the events that led to the overthrow it is clear that without foreign intervention Ukraine would not be in its current, seemingly hopeless situation.

By the end of 2013, Ukraine’s economy was in ruins. The government was desperate for an economic bailout and then-president Yanukovych first looked west to the US and EU before deciding to accept an offer of help from Russia. Residents of south and east Ukraine, who largely speak Russian and trade extensively with Russia were pleased with the decision. West Ukrainians who identify with Poland and Europe began to protest. Ukraine is a deeply divided country and the president came from the eastern region.

At this point the conflict was just another chapter in Ukraine’s difficult post-Soviet history. There was bound to be some discontent over the decision, but if there had been no foreign intervention in support of the protests you would likely not be reading this column today. The problem may well have solved itself in due time rather than escalated into a full-out civil war. But the interventionists in the US and EU won out again, and their interventionist project has been a disaster.

The protests at the end of 2013 grew more dramatic and violent and soon a steady stream of US and EU politicians were openly participating, as protesters called for the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Senator John McCain made several visits to Kiev and even addressed the crowd to encourage them.

Imagine if a foreign leader like Putin or Assad came to Washington to encourage protesters to overthrow the Obama Administration!

As we soon found out from a leaked telephone call, the US ambassador in Kiev and Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, were making detailed plans for a new government in Kiev after the legal government was overthrown with their assistance.

The protests continued to grow but finally on February 20th of last year a European delegation brokered a compromise that included early elections and several other concessions from Yanukovych. It appeared disaster had been averted, but suddenly that night some of the most violent groups, which had been close to the US, carried out the coup and Yanukovych fled the country.

When the east refused to recognize the new government as legitimate and held a referendum to secede from the west, Kiev sent in tanks to force them to submit. Rather than accept the will of those seeking independence from what they viewed as an illegitimate government put in place by foreigners, the Obama administration decided to blame it all on the Russians and began imposing sanctions!

That war launched by Kiev has lasted until the present, with a ceasefire this month brokered by the Germans and French finally offering some hope for an end to the killing. More than 5,000 have been killed and many of those were civilians bombed in their cities by Kiev.

What if John McCain had stayed home and worried about his constituents in Arizona instead of non-constituents 6,000 miles away? What if the other US and EU politicians had done the same? What if Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had focused on actual diplomacy instead of regime change?

If they had done so, there is a good chance many if not all of those who have been killed in the violence would still be alive today. Interventionism kills.