Current Events

The 2023 Drought in Europe

Can you imagine some of the world’s most popular travel destinations such as Lisbon, Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, Istanbul, Venice, Provence, the French Riviera, and Budapest having to shut down due to no drinking water?  As unbelievable as that may seem, it has become a real possibility.  Throughout its short history, the European Union (EU) has consistently downplayed many of its major problems such as the migrant crisis, terrorism, and the military threat from Russia.  An ongoing problem, however, has emerged that will soon overshadow everything else:  drought is again hitting the EU, threatening entire areas, particularly Southern Europe. 

In 2022, drought conditions in Southern Europe were the worst in 500 years.  In central France, for example, drought conditions were so severe that over a hundred towns had no water at all – no tap water – the water had to be trucked in by the local governments.  This year the following areas near and within Europe are already affected:

  • Spain (the entire country)
  • Portugal (the entire country)
  • Italy (parts of the north, Sardinia, and Sicily)
  • The UK (parts of northern England and the north-western coast of Scotland)
  • France (the southern part, particularly in Provence and the French Riviera)
  • Bulgaria (the eastern coast along the Black Sea)
  • Hungary (the capital, Budapest, and the Lake Balaton area)
  • Romania (the eastern coast along the Black Sea)
  • Poland (parts of northern Poland along the Baltic Sea)
  • Finland (southern coastal area and parts of central Finland)
  • Sweden (scattered areas throughout the country)
  • The Baltic States (large parts of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia)
  • Iceland (the northern part)
  • Turkiye (mainly in the Istanbul, Turkish Riviera, and central areas)
  • Morocco (the entire northern coast)

According to CNN World News in 2022, over 60% of the EU and UK experienced drought conditions.  Unfortunately, the winter months provided little to no snow nor rain.  As of May 2023, some European news agencies are reporting that only 20% of the EU’s land mass is experiencing drought conditions, but that figure is more than likely heavily understated given the carry-over of warm weather from 2022.  Summer in the EU is only beginning, and is forecast to be extremely hot.  The potential impact upon the EU’s and UK’s food supply could be catastrophic, driving up the cost of fruits, vegetables, and even meat products.  Inflation is already a huge problem in the EU and in the UK, and this will only drive inflation higher. 

Even though rainfall has occurred within the EU, it has been sporadic.  When it does arrive, it falls quickly upon dry, parched earth that is so hard none of the rain can penetrate it, which is causing flooding and landslides.  To make matters worse, another natural disaster is underway, particularly in Italy: salt water from nearby bodies of water such as the Adriatic Sea are now entering fresh-water rivers rendering them unfit for consumption.  

The drought conditions within the EU started back in 2018 and have been getting progressively worse.   Before the creation of the EU, individual countries took responsibility for water management issues.  Now, they seem to view it as an EU problem, not theirs to solve. To date the only measures being discussed in the EU are paying compensation to farmers whose crops have been destroyed by drought.  That is at best a short-term solution.  The issue of water management is something that the EU can no longer downplay or ignore.  Otherwise, entire countries particularly in western Europe may soon become unlivable – a very surreal prospect and not one that anyone wants to envision! 

Current Events

China’s Collapsing Real Estate Market – Part II

Behind the glittering modern skyline of many of China’s cities lies an ugly truth that the communist party does not want to deal with:  the country’s miraculous economic growth was due primarily to its speculative real estate market.  In particular, the China Evergrande real estate fiasco is shaping up to be the equivalent of what happened to the United States in 2008, except China’s fate will be worse.  For years the China Evergrande real estate company has been engaged in a Ponzi (pyramid-like) scheme:  homes were sold in advance to the public, and then those funds were used to finance new housing projects.  The only problem was:  most of the current projects were never completed.  To make matter worse, people were required to start making mortgage payments to the banks as soon as the property had been purchased.  Huge numbers of people were buying real estate:  at least 75% of China’s household wealth is tied up in its housing market.  No doubt China Evergrande was allowed to run a Ponzi scheme without any oversight from government officials, as its CEO, Xu Jiayin, was well connected to the communist party.

Home buyers are furious with their politicians who have done little to solve the problem.  More buyers are now refusing to make their mortgage payments, which has placed many Chinese banks in financial jeopardy. China Evergrande owes money to over 170 domestic banks and to over 120 financial institutions. Home buyers are taking to the streets protesting this injustice, only to be met by police who arrest them.  Home prices in many of China’s cities has declined by over 20% and more decreases are being forecasted.  Throughout China there are millions of unfinished and vacant apartments and buildings, so many that they have created “ghost cities.”  Property developers do not have the money to complete housing projects, people are withdrawing their savings from the banks, the banks are running out of funds and in turn freezing everyone’s deposits.  It is a nightmare scenario that has no solution in sight. 

China’s youth have become known as “Bai Lan” youth (meaning “let it rot”).  More and more of them are disillusioned with the corrupt communist party and the status quo.  Western politicians and businesses need to realize that China’s success is more image than substance.  With the economy rapidly deteriorating, investing in China is now a huge risk. 

Current Events

China’s Collapsing Real Estate Market – Part I

For years, China’s communist government has bombarded the western world with images of China’s incredible economic wealth.  Thanks to the supposed good governance of the communist party, there was so much abundant wealth that most citizens could own their own homes, even two or three homes.  Everyone, particularly the Chinese people, were led to believe that China’s booming real estate industry would go on for many more years.

Unfortunately, China’s real estate bubble has now burst, and not even the authoritarian communist party can hide this economic disaster:  the China Evergrande Group, China’s second largest property development company has defaulted on its loan payments.  It has a debt that has now hit $300 billion USD, which is sending shock waves throughout China’s real estate market.  Hard to believe that this company’s stock values used to be the world’s most valuable, and now it is in default.  It has ignited a chain reaction pushing other companies, including banks, to the verge of collapse.

For decades China’s communist party has ignored the rampant speculation that engulfed the real estate industry and now this sector that accounts for 29% of China’s GDP threatens the entire economy.  So far, the government has offered no solution to solve the problem.  You may want to follow Warren Buffet’s example, and start selling off your Chinese investments.  China’s economic problems are only going to get worse.  Get out of the country while you still can!   

Current Events

America’s Rate of Inflation – Out of Control!

The October 2021 rate of inflation in America hit a 30-year high of 6.2%.  A year earlier, it was only 1.37%.  Americans are paying more for heating fuel, food, rent, gasoline, cars and every other necessity.  Inflation is hitting the poor and the middle class the hardest.  Yet in the midst of such misfortune, Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, and President Joe Biden refuse to address the problem.   The Federal Reserve has intentionally kept interest rates (the cost of borrowing) near zero for the past several years.  Such a policy is unrealistic, as everything has a cost.  This deliberate government intervention is now fueling inflation with no end in sight.  At the same time consumers and businesses as well as governments are taking on massive amounts of debt. 

Jerome Powell believes that the higher interest rates are caused by disruptions in the global supply chain.  This belief, however, does not explain why some cities are experiencing huge increases in real estate costs, sometimes as much as 18% in one month.  Consumers are being lured into paying higher costs with the promise of cheap mortgage interest rates.  Many of these consumers are even getting into bidding wars as they take on massive debt.  Higher real estate costs in turn are increasing rental costs which is pushing more Americans into homelessness.  The average American’s dream of owning one’s own home (at a reasonable cost) is now farther away than ever before!

The Federal Reserve also justifies its interest rate inaction by claiming that it’s necessary to maximize employment.  The policy of cheap interest rates has been used for years, yet as of October 2021, 7.4 million Americans are still unemployed.

Apparently, Jerome Powell is very well liked by Wall Street.  That alone should make one suspicious of his competence in serving the needs of middle-class America.  By February 2022, President Joe Biden has to decide whether or not to reappoint Jerome Powell.  With an approval rating that has hit a new low of 38%, Joe Biden should consider whose interests he wants to serve:  Wall Street or middle-class America!

Current Events

Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution: Slower Than Anticipated!

By the end of December 2020, the number of people vaccinated in the USA was 1 million; in the UK, about 617,000; and in Canada, about 110,000. At present, the USA, the UK, and Canada have approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. On December 29th, the UK also approved the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine (which will begin use on January 4th). The distribution of these vaccines has been far slower than anticipated with the UK distribution ranking being #3 in the world, the USA #4, and Canada #7. (Israel is #1 in the world at the moment for distributing the vaccine to its people.)

In the USA, plans are underway to use retail giant, Walmart, to help speed up the distribution of the Moderna vaccine. Walmart (including Sam’s Clubs) have a vast network of stores with pharmacies: over 5,000 outlets nationwide, from as far west as Honolulu, Hawaii to Miami, Florida on the east coast. This distribution has already begun in the state of New Mexico.

Current Events

Covid-19 Vaccine Approved

On Wednesday, December 2nd, the government of Great Britain made history by being the first Western government to approve a vaccine to fight the coronavirus (Covid-19) which is currently the source of the pandemic. The vaccine is made by the US pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, along with its German partner, BioNTech. Pfizer will be shipping an initial 800,00 doses from its Belgium laboratories to Great Britain next week. The elderly and care home staff will be the first to receive the vaccine, which needs to be taken in 2 doses 21 day apart. The vaccine is 95% effective in preventing infection from Covid-19 even for older adults. The FDA in the USA will be meeting on Thursday December 10th to consider giving similar approval for the vaccine’s use in the USA. Once approved it will be ready for distribution within 24 hours. This is good news: the pandemic may soon be over! Keep your fingers crossed!

Current Events

Another New Coronavirus: SADS-CoV (Worse than COVID-19)

A new strain of the coronavirus, even more deadlier than COVID-19, has emerged from China. The new strain is called “Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome Coronavirus” (SADS-CoV). While COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, SADS-CoV attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing uncontrollable diarrhea and other serious problems. Someone infected with it can easily die of starvation and dehydration, as you literally can’t keep any food in you. The only potential good news is that the drug, remdesivir, seems to be able to treat this new strain. Remember that if you or anyone you know gets it and lands up in the hospital, as this strain is deadly!

SADS-CoV has recently been found in pigs, which can easily transmit the virus to humans. According to Chinese authorities this human transmission has not happened. Unfortunately, given China’s cover up of SARS and COVID-19, their “track record” of honesty and openness has not been good. Who knows if this new virus has already been spread to humans and left China to start another pandemic. Only time will tell!

For more information, go to Mike Wehner’s article given below:

A new deadly strain of coronavirus
Current Events

The COVID-19 Economy: Like Alice in Wonderland! A Warped Reality?

It is somewhat strange and troublesome to see the U.S. stock market surging ahead and currencies like the Euro hitting its highest value ever ($1.60 CDN) even though millions of people in Canada, the USA, and Europe are unemployed and businesses are going bankrupt at a record rate! Household and government debt is rapidly increasing while the rate of savings is rapidly declining. In Vancouver, people are paying record prices for homes, even engaging in bidding wars; and in Toronto rental costs are going upwards. What is going on? The economic indicators are going against all logic. Is a huge reality check (crash) imminent? Are the markets being purposely manipulated? History does repeat itself: hopefully this is not a repeat of 1929!

Current Events

China Not Safe to Visit

On December 1, 2018 Meng Wanzhou, CFO, Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver, Canada on an extradition warrant issued by the US government for bank and wire fraud. In retaliation, on December 10th, China’s secret police arbitrarily arrested two Canadian businessmen: Michael Kovrig in Beijing and Michael Spavor in Dandong. They accused them of breaking China’s national security laws (which they both deny). To date there has been no trial. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is aware of this situation, but has taken no concrete action to obtain their release. By their actions, China’s communist government is warning all foreigners that they can be arrested at any time and for any reason. China is no longer safe to do business or to go for vacation.