OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Senate on Thursday voted to legalize recreational marijuana, clearing a major hurdle that puts the country on track to become the first Group of Seven nation to permit national use of the drug.
George Soros-backed candidates for district attorney in Sacramento, San Diego and Alameda counties lost to their conservative opponents in midterm elections on Tuesday, handing the “Open Society” billionaire a handful of embarrassing defeats in the most progressive state in the US.
Soros and several other like-minded donors – the American Civil Liberties Union, for example – poured millions into four DA races across California in hopes of electing reform-minded DAs. Instead, the judges running against Soros’s candidates won by comfortable margins.
Conservative Sacramento incumbent Anne Marie Schubert won with 64% of the vote.
Incumbent Republican Summer Stephan received 64% of the vote in San Diego.
And Alameda County incumbent District Attorney Nancy O’Malley also won her race with 60% of the vote.
In each case, Soros’s team had thought the incumbents were vulnerable to a challenge given the supposed anti-Republican backlash caused by Trump.
Another Soros-backed candidate, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, won, but may face a runoff in the November general election if she fails to win more than 50% of the votes in a recount that is ongoing, according to the Daily Caller.
Since 2014, Soros has spent more than $2.7 million in DA races in California alone, helping more liberal candidates catch up with their conservative counterparts. And since 2014, he has spent some $16 million in 17 races in other states, with his candidates winning 13 of them.
The losses in this cycle were so bracing, that Michael Smolens, a columnist with the San Diego Tribune, questioned whether “these are mere speed bumps or is the political pendulum swinging against Soros and his progressive coalition?”
Just a few weeks after Argentina became ground zero for the coming Emerging Market crisis, when its currency suddenly collapsed at the end of April amid soaring inflation, exploding capital outflows and a central bank that was far behind the curve (as in “13% of rate hikes in a week” behind)…
… the IMF has officially bailed out the country – again – this time with a $50 billion, 36-month stand-by loan, and coming in about $10 billion more than rumored earlier in the week, it was the largest ever bailout loan in IMF history, meant to help restore investor confidence in a nation that, between its soaring external debt and current account deficit, prompted JPMorgan to suggest that along with Turkey, Argentina is in effect, doomed.
As the JPM chart below shows, the country’s total budget deficit, which includes interest payments on debt, was 6.5% of GDP last year, much of reflecting a debt binge of about $100 billion over the last two and a half years. The primary fiscal deficit in 2017 was 3.9%.
The loan will have a minimum interest rate of 1.96% rising as high as 4.96%.
“We are convinced that we’re on the right path, that we’ve avoided a crisis,” Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne said at a press conference in Buenos Aires. “This is aimed at building a normal economy.”
Dujovne said that about $15 billion from the credit line would be immediately available to Argentina after the package is approved by the IMF’s board, which is expected on June 20. The rest would be dispersed as needed as Argentina meets its targets.
Shortly after the news the loan was finalized, Dujovne made some additional, more bizarre comments, saying that “the amount we received is 11 times Argentina’s quota, which reflects the international community´s support of Argentina,” almost as if he was proud at just how insolvent his country “suddenly” become. He was certainly delighted that, in his view, Argentina is now “too big to fail”, and received not only this loan as a result…
“It’s very good news that the integration with the world allows us to receive this support.”
… but also hinted that the international community would also foot the bill for all other upcoming Argentinian bailouts. And if the country’s history is any indication, there will be plenty more, as well as the occasional military coup for good measure.
According to Bloomberg, Argentina will see 30% of the funds a day or two after the Fund’s June 20 board meeting, and in typical IMF-bailout fashion, a form of austerity will be imposed on what was once Latin America’s richest nation: as part of the agreement, the country will now target a fiscal deficit of 1.3% of GDP in 2019 and 2.7% this year, with a fiscal balance targeted for 2020 (good luck). And since the previous targets of 2.2% and 3.2%, were almost as laughable, this latest IMFian austerity package not only has zero chance of ever being achieved, but if Greece is any indication, it will make the Argentina crisis far worse. The government has also set a new inflation target of 17% in 2019 – It’s considered low – declining to 13% in 2020 and 9% in 2021.
And the biggest joke, as part of the program, Argentina will agree to accelerate the pace at which it reduces the government deficit. The nation spends more than it collects in revenue and imports more than it exports, creating fiscal and current-account shortfalls that leave Argentina vulnerable to fluctuations in its currency. But, thanks to the even more idiotic policies of central banks, Argentina managed to sell a 100 year bond last year, demonstrating just how stupid some managers of “other people’s money” really are.
“This is a plan owned and designed by the Argentine government, one aimed at strengthening the economy for the benefit of all Argentines,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says in the statement which can be found on the IMF’s website.
To take effect, the deal reached between the IMF’s staff and Argentine authorities still requires the approval of the IMF’s executive board.
Oh, and thank you American taxpayers: the IMF’s largest shareholder, the U.S., said in a statement Thursday from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that it supported the program, according to the WSJ.
“The size of the package should provide relief, but implementing the program entails significant challenges and will require skillful political leadership,” said Martin Castellano, the head of Latin America research at the Institute of International Finance.
Argentina was bailed out by the IMF for the second time in 2 decades after three rate hikes pushed borrowing costs above 40% but failed to halt a plunge in the currency. The peso fell 25% against the dollar this year to trade at 24.9850 on Thursday, while capital outflows soared.
Central Bank President, Federico Sturzenegger, said the bank will continue to intervene in currency markets in times of “disruptive movement” although the central bank will not target inflation this year, he said. Meanwhile, the government has agreed to send a bill that gives the central bank more autonomy, and as a result it wil no longer transfer funds to the Treasury.
“We’re convinced that we’re on the right track, that we managed to avoid a crisis, gather support for the program we already had and that has been in place since Dec. 2015, which looks to build a normal economy, reduce poverty and protect the vulnerable,” Dujovne said, echoing what Greece said after its first bailout 8 years… and its second… and its third.
Gerry Rice, an IMF spokesman, speaking Thursday before the details of the bailout were announced, told reporters that the IMF is “not seeing negative spillovers to other countries at this point.”
Well, he may want to take a look at Brazil.
* * *
As for what happened the last time the IMF bailed out Argentina in the early 2000, the following 2004 article from the Telegraph tells you all you need to know why when a nation is desperately in need of deleveraging, giving it another $50 billion in debt is generally a bad idea.
IMF admits mistakes in Argentina crisis
By Edmund Conway12:01AM BST 30 Jul 2004
The International Monetary Fund yesterday admitted that its mistakes helped plunge Argentina deeper into the red during the currency crisis that crippled the country’s economy three years ago.
In a report published yesterday by its independent evaluation office, the IMF said it ought to have prevented the Argentine government from following poor economic policies.
“IMF surveillance failed to highlight the growing vulnerabilities in the authorities’ choice of policies and the IMF erred by supporting inadequate policies too long,” it said.
The financial meltdown that reached a climax in 2001, causing the country to default on $132 billion of foreign debt, was worsened by the government’s vain attempts to maintain the Argentine peso’s peg against the dollar. The IMF ploughed money into the country to help it sustain the peg, pledging an extra $22 billion as late as the end of 2000.
“In retrospect, the resources used in an attempt to preserve the peg could have been better used to mitigate some of the inevitable costs of exit,” the report said.
Although it became clear to some IMF staff that the country’s currency plan was flawed in the 1990s, they did not report their doubts to their board for fear of triggering a speculative attack on the peso. The executive board, for its part, ignored staff complaints that Argentina was not reforming its economy satisfactorily.
Both the IMF and the US touted the country as Latin America’s economic success story but the fund maintained its support despite the fact that Argentina missed its fiscal targets every year since 1994. Analysts have also claimed that the IMF’s demands that Argentina raise taxes in 2002 worsened the crisis. The conclusions will come as a blow to the institution, whose role has come under increased scrutiny in recent years.
Yesterday the Argentine finance minister, Roberto Lavagna, argued that the country should not be pressed too hard for repayments of its current three-year $13 billion loan. He said the IMF was now insisting it reformed its economy “in a way absent throughout the 90s” and “under a schedule that is oblivious to the political realities of the country”.
Good luck, and some advice to Argentina: this time try to prevent Elliott Management from buying up your debt at distressed prices.
The financing loan would be made over a three-year period and is still subject to IMF board approval.
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MSNBC’s somehow bulletproof Joy Reid physically threatened a senior colleague in what he described as “the most toxic work environment I’ve ever experienced.”
Reid has come under fire in recent weeks for making homophobic, anti-Semitic blog posts, lying about doing so, claiming she involved the FBI, and more recently promoting a nazi website – all of which MSNBC is apparently OK with.
Reid issued an apology for her old posts, which included a photoshopped image of Sen. John McCain’s head over the Virginia Tech gunman.
And now we have fresh reports of bigoted and threatening behavior from Reid’s “short-lived stint as a radio show co-host more than a decade ago,” reports Fox News.
Reid faces fresh questions over her conduct during her brief but “toxic” time as a co-host and producer of “Wake Up South Florida” on radio station WTPS 1080 AM between 2006 and 2007.
Threat of physical violence
Andre Eggelletion, former lead host of the morning show with Reid, recently spoke out about her for the first time in more than a decade, saying Reid created “the most toxic work environment I’ve ever experienced” and threatened him with violence.
“It was a very unhealthy work environment because of her attitude. She attacked me on a constant basis while I was there. I was even once threatened with physical violence during a break with her,” he revealed to Fox News. -Fox News
The incident was corroborated by then-national program director for Syndication One, Lee Michaels, who told Fox “It absolutely happened — 100 percent,” and that he had to implore Eggelletion not to quit over Reid’s conduct.
The threat came following a “dispute” over a news item that Reid opposed covering — despite Eggelletion being the show’s lead host.
“There was a dispute over it and I told her, ‘Go ahead and call the manager’,” Eggelletion said he told Reid, after she refused to cover the story suggested by him.
To which she allegedly replied, “If you ever speak to me like that again I’m coming over there and it’s gonna be me and you.” -Fox News
Higher ups at the station intervened, issuing a stern warning to Reid.
“I talked to the general manager and I told him this has to be dealt with in a very firm manner because it was inappropriate and it just can’t be tolerated,” Michaels recalled. He claimed that within the local radio station, there was an attempt to mediate the issue and Reid was supported by some of her colleagues.
Reid hit back, reportedly telling the general manager during a meeting “Y’all want me to be his friend. I don’t want to be his motherfucking friend.”
‘Miss Charlie’ slur
Despite Reid’s “totally heartfelt” apology for homophobic slurs she made on her old blog – saying she’s a changed woman, her former radio coworkers aren’t so sure.
“I do believe she’s not telling the truth about who that person [who wrote the blog posts] was. Maybe she has changed, but back then, that was one evil woman,” Eggelletion said.
“She said she doesn’t know who that person is – I find it very hard to believe. Very hard to believe based on my experience with her. Based on her attitudes towards me to this day. I never ever did anything at all to disrespect her, hurt her, I’ve never written or gone public in the last ten years with anything negative about her,” he added.
The former lead host recalled one example in which Reid’s opinion on the radio show echoed her writings. “She did call Charlie Crist ‘Miss Charlie’ on the air,” he said.
Michaels, meanwhile, said Reid “referred to her blog from time to time” during the radio show. “Her demeanor inside the radio station complemented what was on the blog. Mean-spirited, very edgy, negative personality in her writing,” he said. -Fox News
One wonders at what point MSNBC throws in the towel on Reid, who has been given a giant pass on making bigoted, homophobic comments after simply saying “I’ve changed.”
Roseanne Barr unavailable for comment…