Essential Reading – 6 December

Simon Jenkins: Imposing idiot sanctions on Iran is a direct route to war | Comment is free | The Guardian

What is the difference between Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran? The answer, future historians may relate, is none. At the dawn of the 21st century, all three states were ruled by nasty undemocratic regimes to which America and its allies took exception. Antagonism began with hectoring ostracism. This led to economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation and bloodcurdling threats of “other measures”. Finally a pretext was drummed up for military intervention, for bombing, invasion, occupation and appalling destruction.

Will Iran really be on this list? At present the west, covered in blood and expense, is trying to leave Iraq and Afghanistan, yet at the same time it stumbles into an identical trap in Iran.

The casus belli is the same. There is a declared ongoing threat and this is inextricably linked to a “humanitarian” need for regime change. In Afghanistan the trigger was the harbouring of Osama bin Laden. In Iraq it was a tenuous claim that Saddam possessed a nuclear capability and was preparing to use missiles against western targets.

via Simon Jenkins: Imposing idiot sanctions on Iran is a direct route to war | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: President Obama’s Trust Deficit

Tonight as I listened to President Obama's Speech On Afghanistan and why we need to commit more troops, I found myself asking “Where's the trust? Where's the credibility?”

His pledge to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan while simultaneously declaring troop withdrawal in 18 months is bound to please no one.

Obama said “I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. … If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.”

via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: President Obama’s Trust Deficit.

Barclays banker Hugh McGee wants son’s teacher fired for ‘sleazeball’ comment – Telegraph

Hugh “Skip” McGee, one of Wall Street's best-paid bankers, has launched an extraordinary attack on staff at his son's exclusive private school after a teacher allegedly claimed that all investment bankers are dishonest “sleazeballs”.

Mr Mcgee, who is Barclays Capital’s global head of investment banking, penned a rambling five-page letter to the board of trustees of Houston’s Kinkaid School, asking that the teacher and two other staff members be fired.

In the letter, Mr McGee, who is alleged to have an eight-figure salary, claims that history teacher Leslie Lovett has a “leftist invective” which “is neither accurate nor part of the approved curriculum”.

The banker, who was global head of investment banking at Lehman Brothers until its collapse last year, goes on to claim that the teacher told his son John Edward’s 11th-grade class “that somehow both Lehman and Barclays made a bunch of money on the Lehman bankruptcy, and that all investment bankers were ‘sleazeballs’ and dishonest”.

via Barclays banker Hugh McGee wants son’s teacher fired for ‘sleazeball’ comment – Telegraph.

U.S. housing market meltdown not over yet: Zandi | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The meltdown of the U.S. housing market is not over yet, and home prices will soon start trekking downward again as a flood of foreclosures looms, a well-known economist said on Wednesday.

Housing Market

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said in an interview with Reuters home prices will resume their decline by early next year as foreclosure sales pick up again.

“The housing crash is not over,” he said.

The U.S. housing market has suffered the worst downturn since the Great Depression, and its impact has rippled through the recession-hit economy as well as the rest of the world.

A setback for the hard-hit housing market could portend problems for the U.S. economy.

Home prices, as measured by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, will trough in the third quarter of 2010 after declining 38 percent, Zandi said.

The index peaked in the second quarter of 2006 and hit a trough in the first quarter of 2009, a drop of about 32 percent.

Home prices in many regions have been rising. That is because foreclosure sales fell over the summer and fall as mortgage servicers have tried to put stressed homeowners into the Home Affordable Modification Program and other modification plans, he said.

via U.S. housing market meltdown not over yet: Zandi | Reuters.

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