Archive for July, 2010

Methane Thought To Be Responsible For Mass Extinction


ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2003) — EVANSTON, Ill. — What caused the worst mass extinction in Earth’s history 251 million years ago? An asteroid or comet colliding with Earth? A greenhouse effect? Volcanic eruptions in Siberia? Or an entirely different culprit? A Northwestern University chemical engineer believes the culprit may be an enormous explosion of methane (natural gas) erupting from the ocean depths.

In an article published in the September issue of Geology, Gregory Ryskin, associate professor of chemical engineering, suggests that huge combustible clouds produced by methane gas trapped in stagnant bodies of water and suddenly released could have killed off the majority of marine life and land animals and plants at the end of the Permian era — long before dinosaurs lived and died.

The mechanism also might explain other extinctions and climate perturbations (ice ages) and even the Biblical flood, as well as be the cause of future catastrophes.

Ryskin calculated that some 10,000 gigatons of dissolved methane could have accumulated in water near the ocean floor under high pressure. If released quickly, perhaps triggered by an earthquake, the resulting cloud of methane would have an explosive force about 10,000 times greater than the world’s entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. The huge conflagrations plus flooding and overturned oceans would cause the extinctions. (Approximately 95 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species were lost.)

"That amount of energy is absolutely staggering," said Ryskin. "As soon as one accepts this mechanism, it becomes clear that if it happened once it could happen again. I have little doubt there will be another methane-driven eruption — though not on the same scale as 251 million years ago — unless humans intervene."

Worthy Things To Think About;

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt."
– U.S. President John Adams

"Britain is the slave of an international financial bloc."
– British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, June 20, 1934

"If the American people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning."
– U.S. President Andrew Jackson, 1829

"The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or so dependent upon its favors that there will be no opposition from that class while, on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending…will bear its burdens without complaint."
– The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863

"There is a much larger group behind these [9/11 attacks] which is the international banking cartel which controls trillions of dollars and which has an interest in controlling countries in the Middle East which are not under their control."
– Professor Steven E. Jones on KUER (Salt Lake City’s NPR affiliate), September 5, 2006

Scientists baffled by unusual upper atmosphere shrinkage

By Derrick Ho, Special to CNN

  July 17, 2010 12:07 a.m. EDT

  • Decreased solar activity, increased CO2 levels affect Earth’s outer atmosphere
  • Those factors, however, can’t explain this much of a contraction, researcher says
  • Changes in thermosphere won’t affect life on the surface but can affect satellites
  • The thermosphere has already begun to rebound, but monitoring will continue

(CNN) — An upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere recently shrank so much that researchers are at a loss to adequately explain it, NASA said on Thursday.

The thermosphere, which blocks harmful ultraviolet rays, expands and contracts regularly due to the sun’s activities. As carbon dioxide increases, it has a cooling effect at such high altitudes, which also contributes to the contraction.

But even these two factors aren’t fully explaining the extraordinary contraction which, though unlikely to affect the weather, can affect the movement of satellites, researchers said.

"This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years," John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab was quoted as saying in NASA news report.

Emmert is the lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"We cannot explain the abnormally low densities, which are about 30 percent lower" than from previous contractions, Emmert told

The thermosphere lies high above Earth’s surface, close to where the atmosphere ends and space begins. It ranges in altitude from 55 miles (90km) to 370 miles (600km) above the ground — the realm of meteors, auroras, space shuttles and the international space station.

This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years.
–John Emmert, the Naval Research Lab, quoted in a NASA news report

The thermosphere interacts strongly with the sun and hence is greatly influenced by the sun’s solar activity, which occurs in cycles.

When solar activity is high, solar extreme ultraviolet rays warm and expand the thermosphere. When it’s low, the opposite occurs.

The collapse occurred during what’s known as a "solar minimum" from 2007 to 2009, during which the sun plunged into an unprecedented low of inactivity. Sun spots were scarce and solar flares were nonexistent, NASA reported.

Still, the collapse of the thermosphere was bigger than the sun’s activity alone can explain.

Emmert suggests that the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide making its way into the upper atmosphere might have played a role in the anomaly.

Carbon dioxide acts as a coolant in the upper atmosphere, unlike in the lower atmosphere, shedding heat via infrared radiation. As carbon dioxide levels build up on Earth, it makes its way into the upper levels and magnifies the cooling action of the solar minimum, Emmert said.

As carbon dioxide gradually builds up, "we expect every solar minimum to be a little lower, and then this solar minimum comes along, but instead it’s a lot lower. And that’s pretty surprising," said Stanley Solomon, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who wasn’t directly involved in this research.

But, Emmert said, even taking into account the solar activity and carbon dioxide buildup doesn’t fully account for this abnormal collapse.

Despite the puzzling anomaly, the collapse of the thermosphere is unlikely to have a direct effect on our daily lives, said Solomon.

"It’s not going to affect the weather, or you won’t be able to tell that this is going on by looking at the sky. It’s not going to look any darker," he said.

But the contraction of the thermosphere can affect the drag on satellites and space junk orbiting at those levels.

"Debris that’s up there stays up longer. The amount of orbital debris is a concern for space navigation. There is concern that space debris is building up," Emmert said.

The abnormal change in the thermosphere may also affect other layers of the atmosphere, and though less certain, can result in slight disruptions of satellite communications, including global-positioning system signals, Solomon said.

Emmert said there were still other possibilities unaccounted for that could have contributed to this phenomenon.

"It could be that we’re underestimating the effects [of carbon dioxide] somehow. It could be because there were some physics that we’re missing in the region of the atmosphere below the thermosphere, which quickly affects the thermosphere," he said.

The researchers say they will continue to monitor the upper atmosphere, which is already rebounding.

"So we’re probably going to work in the next couple of years to try and unravel this," Emmert said.

Consumer Metrics Institute: If things continue, in about 20 days the 2010 slowdown will be more severe on a day-to-day basis than the 2008 ‘Great Recession’

Here’s how Richard Davis of Consumer Metrics sees the current economy. Bar none, his is the best real time macro-economic tracking data. He emails:

On July 6th we reported that the nearly relentless decline in our ‘Daily Growth Index’ had leveled off, but cautioned that the index should be viewed from a longer perspective. Since then the decline has resumed:

(Click on chart for fuller resolution)

When the most recent period of contraction in our ‘Daily Growth Index’ (January 15, 2010 to date) is charted along with the similar ‘Daily Growth Index’ contraction events from 2006 and 2008 (with the first day of each contraction aligned on the left-hand axis) the relative severity of each contraction can be visualized.

(Click on chart for fuller resolution)

One measure of the true severity of an economic slowdown is the ‘area under the curve’ (or ‘above’ the curve in this case) swept out by the ‘Daily Growth Index’ over time. This area is just the average magnitude of the decline times the duration of the contraction event. During the 2006 slowdown this area was about 136 percentage-days of contraction, while the 2008 event was much more severe at 793 percentage-days. The 2010 event has now reached 288 percentage-days, over twice the severity of 2006 and well over a third of 2008 ‘Great Recession’ — and it is still growing.

The key point to notice in the above chart is that if the current 2010 curve continues its current course, in about 20 days the 2010 slowdown will be more severe on a day-to-day basis than the 2008 ‘Great Recession’ was at the same point in its respective evolution. Unless the economy begins to pick up quickly, a double dip is likely — with the second round milder but lingering longer than the first.

Goldman Sachs Mafia Pays Hush Money to the S.E.C. Police

From Activist Post

The New York Times reported yesterday that the criminal gang at Goldman Sachs is paying a $550 million "fine" to the Securities and Exchange Commission to "settle" their fraud case.  If approved, the settlement would "represent only a small financial dent for Goldman, which reported $13.38 billion in profit last year."

Meanwhile, Goldman Sach’s shares rose 5% in after-hours trading alone on the news adding about $3.5 billion in value to their market cap.  Ah, life is good for the banksters at the top of the pyramid, especially when the media is on your side too.  The New York Times piece went on to say:

Even so, the settlement is humbling for Goldman, whose elite reputation and lucrative banking business endured through the financial crisis, only to be battered by government investigations that shed light on potential conflicts of interest in its dealings.

‘This settlement is a stark lesson to Wall Street firms that no product is too complex, and no investor too sophisticated, to avoid a heavy price if a firm violates the fundamental principles of honest treatment and fair dealing,’ said Robert S. Khuzami, the commission’s director of enforcement.

The crime that Goldman Sachs is sweeping under the rug in this case is for a single mortgage security, Abacus 2007-AC1, that they pushed on clients while privately dumping it.  The case had nothing to do with their deceptive lending practices, the bait and switch on the TARP bailout, or their front-running software that assures them that they can never lose on their stock trades.

The Times reported the details of the crime and subsequent "hush" deal as vaguely as any loyal mainstream media outlet would:

The commission contended that Goldman misled investors, who were making a positive bet on housing, because Goldman did not disclose Mr. Paulson’s involvement in creating the deal. Mr. Paulson has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Though Goldman did not formally admit to the S.E.C.’s allegations, it agreed to a judicial order barring it from committing intentional fraud in the future under federal securities laws.

In addition, Goldman acknowledged that the marketing materials for Abacus ‘contained incomplete information’ and that it was ‘a mistake’ not to have disclosed Mr. Paulson’s role. As part of the agreement, the bank also said it ‘regrets that the marketing materials did not contain that disclosure.’

Then came the public statements to make us all feel warm and fuzzy that Goldman is now on the up-and-up with the American people.  First, Goldman issued their PR statement, “We believe that this settlement is the right outcome for our firm, our shareholders and our clients.”

After the settlement announcement, wannabe tough guy Senator Carl Levin released the following in a written statement that is so ironic it could be a stand-up comedy routine:

‘Goldman played fast and loose in the Abacus deal, misled its clients, and got called on it today. A key factor in the settlement is that Goldman acknowledges wrongdoing, in addition to paying a fine and changing its practices . . . I hope the Goldman settlement together with the new financial reform law — which prohibits additional unethical practices and conflicts of interest — signal an end to the abusive practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis and the beginning of needed Wall Street reforms.’

The hand slapping followed by pats on the back for job well done is truly disgusting to witness.  They really think the public so stupid to believe that Congress actually wrote the financial reform bill for the benefit of protecting the American people.  What a joke — as Ron Paul clearly points out here:

De-classified Vietnam-era Transcripts Show Senators Knew Gulf Of Tonkin Was A Staged False Flag Event

Steve Watson,, Thursday, Jul 15th, 2010

De-classified Vietnam-era Transcripts Show Senators Knew Gulf Of Tonkin Was A Staged False Flag Event

Elected Reps. chose to hide details from American public for fear of reprisals from “the big forces” that run the media and the presidency

Over 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts released this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee highlight the fact that several Senators knew that the White House and the Pentagon had deceived the American people over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The latest releases, which document skepticism over the pretext for entry into the Vietnam war, date from 1968.
Four years into the war, senators were at loggerheads with Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time Foreign Relations Committee meetings were held behind closed doors.

It would take over thirty years for the truth to emerge that the Aug. 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats – an incident that kicked off US involvement in the Vietnam war – was a staged event that never actually took place.
However, the records now show that at the time senators knew this was the case.

In a March 1968 closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of former vice president Al Gore, noted:

“If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,”

Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, said in an executive session in February 1968:

“In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them,”

Other senators were keen to withhold the truth about Tonkin in order not to inflame public opinion on the war:

Senator Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, stated, “You will give people who are not interested in facts a chance to exploit them and to magnify them out of all proportion.”

Mansfield was referring to the proposed release of a committee staff investigation that raised doubts over whether the Tonkin incident ever took place.

The committee decided in the end to effectively conceal the truth, with Senator Church noting that if the committee came up with proof that an attack never occurred, “we have a case that will discredit the military in the United States, and discredit and quite possibly destroy the president.”

He also noted that if the senators were to follow up on their skepticism over Tonkin, “The big forces in this country that have most of the influence and run most of the newspapers and are oriented toward the presidency will lose no opportunity to thoroughly discredit this committee.”

The LBJ Presidential tapes, declassified and released in 2001, prove that LBJ knew the Tonkin incident never happened. After dressing down his Defence Secretary Robert McNamara for misleading him, Johnson then discussed how to politically spin the non-event and escalate it as justification for air strikes.

“You just came in a few weeks ago and said they’re launching an attack on us – they’re firing at us,” Johnson tells McNamara in one conversation, “and we got through with the firing and concluded maybe they hadn’t fired at all.”

The NSA also deliberately faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost in the “attack”.

Johnson used the 1964 false flag event to expand dramatically the scale of the Vietnam War by ushering in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, as well as to rope in much needed domestic support with the Congress and public.

Perhaps if the Foreign Relations Committee hadn’t been so afraid of “the big forces” controlling America, a large percentage of the almost 60,000 American soldiers and 2 million Vietnamese people wouldn’t have lost their lives.

Sadly, modern day elected representatives have failed the American people in exactly the same way over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Top 50 Employers Data Concerning

By Shawn Barlow

If you want to continue to worry about the US economy, look no farther than the latest list of “The Top 50 Employers” in the United States.  The first glaring concern is the stunning lack of “value added” companies, such as are in manufacturing and resources, and the predominance of “non-value added” companies such as are in retail and finance.

The US simply doesn’t make anything of value anymore (as compared to prior generations) and the economy is now based on “services” that simply skim charges and fees off of transactions.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognise that the economy historically has been based on the production of goods and “value added”, and that foundation has eroded like the casing of a BP oil well.

What happens when an industrial economy evolves into a so-called “service economy”?  The theorists seem to think it’s a logical transition, but those same theorists think that a Fractional Reserve Banking system is sustainable and reasonable, and have facilitated the disaster which is today’s world economy.

Tick.. Tick…

Top 10 Employers


% of Top 50

% of Top 10




















% of Top 50

% of Top 10

1. Wal-Mart





2. McDonald’s 





3. United Parcel Service





4. Sears Holdings





5. Home Depot





6. Target





7. IBM





8. General Motors





9. General Electric





10. Citigroup






Controlling the wealth of America – top 1 percent control 83 percent of U.S. stocks. As a share of personal income mortgage debt ate up 19 percent in 1949. In 2003 it went up to 85 percent. 80 percent of Americans 65 years and older depend on Social Security for half of their income.


Mayer Rothschild was quoted as saying “give me the power of the money and it will not matter any more who is commanding.”  Today Wall Street is in full command of our government.  The impact of massive lobbying has guaranteed that many of our politicians are bought off and are serving as serfs to their feudal lords on Wall Street.  How else can we explain the lack of reform in the financial industry after the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression?  Wealth is massively concentrated in a few hands in America.  Just because you have access to debt does not make you wealthy.  83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of the top 1 percent.

Let us look at the data:

Source:  ACS, Lending Tree Report

The above is a clear example of why the recent Bull Run in the stock market made very little impact in the real economy.  Unemployment is still extremely high and most Americans still live with the effects of a recession.  The housing market is still in disarray yet the boom in stock values has benefitted those that least need it in the market.  The notion that stock wealth is evenly disbursed is nothing more than Wall Street propaganda.  Look at the above data and you can see why.

Many Americans have been under a spell thinking that they have been getting richer merely because they have more access to debt.  Wealth is measured by net worth, not how much debt you have.  And Americans are drowning in mountains of debt.  The share of debt that now goes to housing and consumer credit is off the charts:

The above chart highlights a clear reflection of the decade long housing bubble.  Even though the housing bubble only ramped up in the last decade, the pattern was already taking place for well over 50 years.  Back in 1949 the mortgage as a share of personal income only ate at 19.6 percent of income.  In 2003 it had shot up to 85 percent.  Is it any wonder why so many people were taking on massive amounts of mortgage debt in the last decade?  Someone during the housing boom was quoted as saying:

“[It is] weird to be a young person living in Washington, [D.C.] with this sort of housing bonanza, a psycho-frenzy thing going on. It’s just so very tiring. Sometimes I feel like for me, yeah, having a house would be great but it’s almost become something that I feel like we’re being programmed to do, that it is [an unquestioned] part of the American Dream.”

Most bought into this programming and went ahead and took on massive amounts of debt from the banking giants that turned many into debt slaves.  No one forced these people to sign but neither did anyone force the banks to make these toxic loans.  Yet today, the only group actually getting a bailout is the banking sector.  Those that took on those massively bad loans are destined to lose their homes through foreclosure and have ruined credit.  What consequence do banks face?  They serve the needs of a very small cohort in our population and our government is at their service.

Just look above one more time and look at how much money now goes to home equity debt.  This was unheard up until the 1990s.  In the last decade mortgage equity withdrawals financed a large part of our economy from vacations, to upgrades, to new automobiles.  It was largely one giant façade.  The only group that saw their status increase was the top 1 percent.  Everyone else saw their quality of financial stability decline:

I’m sure when data is released in September by the Census, the numbers will look even worse.  Income on an inflation adjusted level has been falling for well over a decade.  Most Americans were deluded into thinking that debt was equal to wealth.  Or to be more specific, what they were able to finance with debt.  Just because you have a leased foreign car and a large McMansion does not make you wealthy.  All it does is makes you a slave to the objects but also the banks that finance the deal.  Unlike the banks, you do not have a lobbyist looking out for your interest.

The way out for many is through getting an education but the banking system has now inflated the cost of education.  We have for profit schools that provide very little benefit as shown through data but their costs keep going up because they have mastered the ability to take taxpayer loans and push people into their system like a paper mill.  The cost of college keeps going up as income keeps going down:

The only way to understand finance is to get educated but the cost of that is going up.  So you have an enormous serfdom of those who have very little understanding of finance being subjected to the whims of the banking sector.  In the end, the banks have managed to calm the masses and numb their ability to reason because what has occurred over the last few years is the greatest wealth transfer in the history of our nation.  It didn’t take a war or coup but simply happened by pure momentum and sheer inactivity.  They system is in a deep capture.

Even being in the industry does not keep you from buying into the delusional propaganda of Wall Street:

“I studied finance… I learned about stock investments when I was 18 or 19. I took money that I saved since I was a kid and invested in stocks. It was $10,000. I made it into $80,000 in 2 years in stocks. But I had $150,000 invested because of margin and I lost all of it. Now I’m looking at the real estate market. I’m like, huh. I learned my lesson in the stock market. Should I sell my real estate that has gone up in value by 80 percent?”

This quote was taken at the height of the housing bubble.  How many people do you think lost money in the stock market and the real estate bubble?  Trillions of dollars were lost yet somehow, the top 1 percent came out ahead.  They will argue that they are not as wealthy as before but keep in mind even if you lost money, the cost of other items has also fallen.  Money is only as valuable as what you can buy with it.  And this tiny group has become all the richer in this crisis.  You can now by the yacht for half off while your stock portfolio fell by 15 percent.

For all the back and forth with Social Security, an enormous part of our country depends on it for its income:

A stunning 40 percent of those 65 and older depend on Social Security for over 80 percent of their income.  60 percent of this group depends on it for at least 65 percent of their income.  If we look at 8 out of 10 in this group, at the very low end they depend on Social Security for 45 percent of their income!  And this makes total sense because stock wealth is concentrated so heavily in the hands of a few.  And they want people to put money into the stock market casino?  Wall Street is simply looking at eliminating another line item here.  Controlling wealth is more important than who controls the government. Rothschild had it right.

WMD claims were lies says former envoy


By Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor

Monday, 12 July 2010

Britain was taken to war in Iraq on the basis of “lies”, scaremongering and deliberate exaggeration, a former UK diplomat told the Iraq inquiry.

Carne Ross claimed that Britain and the United States privately did not believe that Iraq’s weapons programmes posed a “substantial threat” before launching the 2003 invasion.

Mr Ross, the former first secretary at the UK’s mission to the United Nations, told the Chilcot inquiry there was no “significant intelligence” to support claims that Saddam Hussein had amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons.

He argued that Saddam could have been contained through sanctions – and condemned the failure by the US or UK to close the Iraqi dictator’s bank accounts in Jordan.

Mr Ross, who resigned before the war, pointed to a document circulated to Labour MPs in 2002 as evidence of a “process of deliberate public exaggeration”, including the claim that Saddam could develop nuclear weapons within five years.

He added: “This paper also contains such scare-mongering claims as ‘less than a teaspoon of anthrax can kill over a million people’ without explaining the extremely difficult process for anthrax to be weaponised and delivered in an effective method.”

The former diplomat said the September 2002 dossier that made the case for war – including the notorious claim that Iraq could launch a missile strike within 45 minutes “misrepresented” the raw intelligence.

He said a “very uncertain and patchy picture” was converted into “positive claims of knowledge of threat”.

Mr Ross concluded: “This process of exaggeration was gradual, and proceeded by accretion and editing from document to document, in a way that allowed those participating to convince themselves that they were not engaged in blatant dishonesty.

“But this process led to highly misleading statements about the UK assessment of the Iraqi threat that were, in their totality, lies.”

Mr Ross challenged the inquiry to publish all Government documents concerning the war. He alleged that the evidence given by some officials was contradicted by papers he had seen and added he had seen “very little” in classified documents that could not be made public.

China’s leading credit rating agency has stripped America, Britain, Germany and France of their AAA ratings, accusing Anglo-Saxon competitors of ideological bias in favour of the West.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Published: 9:17PM BST 12 Jul 2010

Beijing office buildings - Chinese rating agency strips Western nations of AAA status

Beijing office buildings – Chinese rating agency strips Western nations of AAA status Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Dagong Global Credit Rating Co used its first foray into sovereign debt to paint a revolutionary picture of creditworthiness around the world, giving much greater weight to "wealth creating capacity" and foreign reserves than Fitch, Standard & Poor’s, or Moody’s.

The US falls to AA, while Britain and France slither down to AA-. Belgium, Spain, Italy are ranked at A- along with Malaysia.

Meanwhile, China rises to AA+ with Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, reflecting its €2.4 trillion (£2 trillion) reserves and a blistering growth rate of 8pc to 10pc a year.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, chief of the International Monetary Fund, agreed on Monday that the rising East is a transforming global force. "Asia’s time has come," he said.

The IMF expects Asia to grow by 7.7pc in 2010, vastly outpacing the eurozone at 1pc and the US at 3.3pc. Emerging nations hold 75pc of the world’s $8.4 trillion (£5.6 trillion) of reserves.

Dagong rates Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Singapore at AAA, along with the commodity twins Australia and New Zealand.

Chinese president Hu Jintao said in April that the world needs "an objective, fair, and reasonable standard" for rating sovereign debt. Dagong appears to have stepped into the role, saying its objective was to assess countries using methods that would "not be affected by ideology".

"The reason for the global financial crisis and debt crisis in Europe is that the current international credit rating system does not correctly reveal the debtor’s repayment ability," said Guan Jianzhong, Dagong’s chairman.

The agency, known in China for rating companies, said its goal is to "correct the defects" of the existing system and offer a counter-weight to Western agencies.

Dagong appears to base growth potential on past performance but this can be misleading, especially in states enjoying technology catch-up. Japan was a high-flyer in 1970s and 1980s before stalling when the Nikkei bubble burst. It has been trapped in near perma-slump ever since.

China may start to face some of Japan’s demographic problems by the middle of this decade when the working age population peaks.

The Western rating agencies put a high value on a long-established rule of law and government institutions that have proved resilient over many decades, or even centuries. China’s political system may appear strong – as did the Soviet Union’s – but only time will tell whether its foundations are brittle. The violent upheavals of the Cultural Revolution are still a very fresh memory