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The IMF changes its rules to isolate China and Russia

OWON: The games political Cretins play.

The real background for what will be seen in 2016. China and Russia and India will not become American vassals and proxy wars will result. It may escalate.

The comical thing about this is that the West lacks the liquidity to force the world to do anything. In time trade will go to other methods of settlement and with it will go the problem of a rising dollar and settlements will become more balanced. One can be sure debt issuance and settlement will follow. Many nations now look to the BRICS for guidance, not to America, and this will only grow.

Statesmanship is totally lacking in pursuing strategies based on Might, as the world clearly sees America now playing second fiddle to China and Russia on military prowess and in financial strength.

If a new year is a new beginning then the West must refine what it can make, and see what the world wants and needs before time makes the west irrelevant from the day to day trade of daily commerce and thus irrelevant. If it does not move quickly the West will find in time that all things Western are shunned and the West will become a third world environment like the very world that has existed until recently.

It's "hit the road Yank", time now.

The IMF changes its rules to isolate China and Russia

The Unz Review
By Michael Hudson
21 December 2015

As Russia and Asia move to circumvent the stranglehold of an aging, U.S. dominated international financial and legal system with its promise of endless austerity and privatization by foreign investors, the IMF and World Bank double-down by making it more difficult for them to transact business and administer credit.

A nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists is coming true: foreign independence from U.S.-centered financial and diplomatic control. China and Russia are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian integration on the basis of financing in their own currencies and favoring their own exports. They also have created the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an alternative military alliance to NATO.[1] And the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank tandem in which the United States holds unique veto power.

More than just a disparity of voting rights in the IMF and World Bank is at stake. At issue is a philosophy of development. U.S. and other foreign investment in infrastructure (or buyouts and takeovers on credit) adds interest rates and other financial charges to the cost structure, while charging prices as high as the market can bear (think of Carlos Slim’s telephone monopoly in Mexico, or the high costs of America’s health care system), and making their profits and monopoly rents tax-exempt by paying them out as interest.

By contrast, government-owned infrastructure provides basic services at low cost, on a subsidized basis, or freely. That is what has made the United States, Germany and other industrial lead nations so competitive over the past few centuries. But this positive role of government is no longer possible under World Bank/IMF policy. The U.S. promotion of neoliberalism and austerity is a major reason propelling China, Russia and other nations out of the U.S. diplomatic and banking orbit.

On December 3, 2015, Prime Minister Putin proposed that Russia “and other Eurasian Economic Union countries should kick-off consultations with members of the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a possible economic partnership.”[2] Russia also is seeking to build pipelines to Europe through friendly secular countries instead of Sunni jihadist U.S.-backed countries locked into America’s increasingly confrontational orbit.

Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov points out that when Russia’s 2013 loan to Ukraine was made, at the request of Ukraine’s elected government, Ukraine’s “international reserves were barely enough to cover three months’ imports, and no other creditor was prepared to lend on terms acceptable to Kiev. Yet Russia provided $3 billion of much-needed funding at a 5 per cent interest rate, when Ukraine’s bonds were yielding nearly 12 per cent.”[3]

What especially annoys U.S. financial strategists is that this loan by Russia’s National Wealth Fund was protected by IMF lending practice, which at that time ensured collectability by withholding credit from countries in default of foreign official debts, or at least not bargaining in good faith to pay. To cap matters, the bonds are registered under London’s creditor-oriented rules and courts.

Most worrisome to U.S. strategists is that China and Russia are denominating their trade and investment in their own currencies instead of dollars. After U.S. officials threatened to derange Russia’s banking linkages by cutting it off from the SWIFT interbank clearing system, China accelerated its creation of the alternative China International Payments System (CIPS), and its own credit card system to protect Eurasian economies from the threats made by U.S. unilateralists.

Russia and China are simply doing what the United States has long done: using trade and credit linkages to cement their diplomacy. This tectonic geopolitical shift is a Copernican threat to New Cold War ideology: Instead of the world economy revolving around the United States (the Ptolemaic idea of America as “the indispensible nation”), it may revolve around Eurasia. As long as global financial control remains grounded in Washington at the offices of the IMF and World Bank, such a shift in the center of gravity will be fought with all the power of an American Century (and would-be American Millennium) inquisition.

Any inquisition needs a court system and enforcement vehicles. So does resistance to such a system. That is what today’s global financial, legal and trade maneuvering is all about. And that is why today’s world system is in the process of breaking apart. Differences in economic philosophy call for different institutions.

To U.S. neocons the specter of AIIB government-to-government investment creates fear of nations minting their own money and holding each other’s debt in their international reserves instead of borrowing dollars, paying interest in dollars and subordinating their financial planning to the U.S. Treasury and IMF. Foreign governments would have less need to finance their budget deficits by selling off key infrastructure. And instead of dismantling public spending, a broad Eurasian economic union would do what the United States itself practices, and seek self-sufficiency in banking and monetary policy.

Imagine the following scenario five years from now. China will have spent half a decade building high-speed railroads, ports, power systems and other construction for Asian and African countries, enabling them to grow and export more. These exports will be coming online to repay the infrastructure loans. Also, suppose that Russia has been supplying the oil and gas energy for these projects on credit.

To avert this prospect, suppose an American diplomat makes the following proposal to the leaders of countries in debt to China, Russia and the AIIB: “Now that you’ve got your increased production in place, why repay? We’ll make you rich if you stiff our adversaries and turn back to the West. We and our European allies will support your assigning your nations’ public infrastructure to yourselves and your supporters at insider prices, and then give these assets market value by selling shares in New York and London. Then, you can keep the money and spend it in the West.”

How can China or Russia collect in such a situation? They can sue. But what court in the West will accept their jurisdiction?

That is the kind of scenario U.S. State Department and Treasury officials have been discussing for more than a year. Implementing it became more pressing in light of Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia falling due by December 20, 2015. Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime has announced its intention to default. To support their position, the IMF has just changed its rules to remove a critical lever on which Russia and other governments have long relied to ensure payment of their loans.

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