From Volume 7, Issue 27 of EIR Online, Published July 1, 2008

Global Economic News

Soros Corners Market on Ag Commodities Speculation

June 25 (EIRNS)—Megaspeculator George Soros, already one of the biggest manipulators in currency markets and in oil markets, has suddenly taken a major position in control of food commodity speculation. This is the Soros who told a Budapest newspaper June 18, "Rather than expecting energy prices to go down somehow, we should accept that it must go further up first, for us to be able to solve the [long-term] problem. Prices must go up first so as to encourage people to consume less."

A private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management LLC, acting as part of a consortium with New York hedge fund Ospraie Management and New York asset manager General Atlantic, has bought substantially all the commodities trading and merchandising business of the giant multi-national ConAgra Foods. This $2.8 billion deal is estimated as the largest acquisition ever by a hedge fund.

The agreement includes 144 ConAgra facilities, located primarily in North America. Renamed Gavilon, the new company provides physical distribution and merchandising of grains, feed ingredients, fertilizer, and energy products; as well as agriculture, energy, and other commodity trading activities, and "risk management services"—i.e., commodity futures derivatives speculation.

Specifically, for example, the ConAgra Trade Group maintains a nationwide logistics network of railcars and containers, and has access to barges, vessels, and storage facilities.

Part of the push for biofuels, the ConAgra operations provide "procurement and marketing services" for ethanol and bio-diesel producers, supply chain infrastructure, as well as financial hedging.

Soros, Carlyle Group Call for Locusts To Take Over

June 26 (EIRNS)—With the banks bankrupt, and the investment banks collapsing, George Soros says not to worry—the private equity funds will save us all. In a joint interview in the British Prospect magazine with Britain's Martin Wolf (Financial Times), Anatole Kaletsky (London Times), and John Gieve (deputy governor, Bank of England), Soros said the financial sector is "overblown," and that it should shrink. Who will benefit? "If we do pass through this without a hitch," said the bloodsucker, "you will find that the private equity funds will replace the investment banks as the dominant force in the economy, because they are the ones who are now buying the assets."

LaRouche immediately identified this as pure fascism, exactly of the sort being demanded by Michael Bloomberg and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The drive was backed up by another of the leading Private Equity funds, the Carlyle Group. The June 26 Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by two of Carlyle's managing directors, Olivier Sarkozy (Nicolas Sarkozy's half-brother) and Randal Quarles, a former Bush Treasury official. It is modestly titled: "Private Equity Can Save the Banks." Noting that the financial services industry has so far taken about $350 billion in losses, they add: "This is only the beginning," saying losses will go to $1 trillion. But, the Carlyle boys argue, the private equity firms have "demonstrated the ability to shoulder risk and improve efficiency and profitability," so, do away with the "needless regulations, restrictions and disincentives" against the unregulated hedge funds and private equity funds. I.e., usher in Mussolini fascism.

UAE Moves Ahead with Its First Nuclear Power Plant

June 23 (EIRNS)—The United Arab Emirates has invited bidders for the construction of a nuclear power plant, which would be the first in an Arab country, Emirates Business reported on June 23. Nine bidders are competing for the contract, the paper said, quoting unnamed sources. The tender is now in the pre-qualification stage and the entire bidding process will be completed by the end of this year.

The UAE government in April had unveiled its formal policy towards nuclear energy following consultations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the governments of France, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea. France signed a deal to help the UAE develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Abu Dhabi in January. An atomic energy cooperation agreement was signed with the United States in April.

At the time, the UAE issued a white paper, "The Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy," which addressed the need to develop additional sources of electricity to meet the future demand. The report quoting analysts says the national annual peak demand for electricity is likely to rise to more than 40,000MW by 2020.

Lawmakers to Chile's President: We Need Nuclear Energy Now!

June 21 (EIRNS)—A group of Chilean legislators, from both the ruling Concertacion coalition and the opposing right-wing Alliance for Chile, presented President Michelle Bachelet with a bill proposing to enact plans for the development of nuclear energy in the country.

The legislators' mid-June action occurs against the backdrop of an acute energy crisis which threatens the functioning of Chile's mines in the northern part of the country. A severe drought in central and southern Chile has also devastated agriculture.

Sen. Jaime Orpis told Bachelet that "the time has come to make a decision on this issue. It's not good enough to keep studying it. We're sending a very important political signal that congressmen want to legislate on this, and with this [bill], we want to contribute to making the decision." He particularly emphasized that nuclear plants would be crucial for desalinating seawater, and guaranteeing adequate water and electricity supplies for both agriculture and mining operations.

Bachelet has stated that no nuclear energy development will take place in Chile while she remains in office, but she has come under increasing pressure to consider it as a result of the country's dire energy crisis.

Munich Think-Tank: Global Economy Grinding to a Halt

June 24 (EIRNS)—The Munich-based IFO said today that its economic climate indicator shows that the global economy is coming to a halt. Its indicator fell "to its lowest level in more than six years" in the second quarter of 2008 and the decline "was particularly marked in North America and Western Europe," a statement said.

"The expansion of the world economy will decelerate perceptively in the forecast period" of 2008-09, it added.

IFO, one of the largest economic research institutes in Germany, cooperates closely with the Center for Economic Studies at Ludwig Maximilians University. CESifo is the name under which the international service products and research results of both organizations are published.

Investment would lose momentum "since the apex in the investment cycle seems to have been passed." Asian growth "will be dampened by inflationary developments, especially for food and raw materials," IFO said. Weaker conditions worldwide would take some steam out of the Chinese economic expansion, as would more restrictive monetary policies. In China, however, increased demand from private households could help offset any downturn. In India, meanwhile, "increasing interest rates will negatively affect the investment propensity of firms [and] also growth in private consumption demand."

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