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Economy

Thousands rally in Belgium to protest high energy prices

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in the Belgian capital Brussels for “a national day of action” to protest against skyrocketing electricity, natural gas and food prices and draw attention to the sharp hike in the cost of living.

Trade unions and city police said that around 10,000 took part. People from across the country gathered, marching behind banners reading “Life is much too expensive, we want solutions now,” and “Everything is going up except our wages,” or carrying placards marked “Freeze prices, not people.” City traffic and public transportation was disrupted.

A Belgian media poll this week showed that 64% of people questioned are concerned that they might not be able to afford their electricity and gas bills, which have more than doubled over the last year, while 80% of respondents said they are already trying to make energy and water savings.

“When we go grocery shopping, what’s in the cart costs now 20, 30 euros (dollars) more, or even more depending on the shop you go to. We are reaching a point where our wallets can’t keep up,” said Pascal Kraeso, a protester from Brussels.

Last month, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo warned that “the next five to 10 winters will be difficult” because of high electricity and natural gas prices fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The European Union’s 27 member countries have agreed to cut gas usage by 15% on average this winter, and aim in particular to reduce demand during peak hours. EU energy ministers are meeting next week to discuss the crisis.

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Business

Bank of Canada lost $522 million in third quarter, marking first loss in its history

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By Nojoud Al Mallees in Ottawa

The Bank of Canada lost $522 million in the third quarter of this year, marking the first loss in its 87-year history.

In the central bank’s latest quarterly financial report, it says revenue from interest on its assets did not keep pace with interest charges on deposits at the bank, which have grown amid rapidly rising interest rates.

The Bank of Canada’s aggressive interest rate hikes this year have raised the cost of interest charges it pays on settlement balances deposited in the accounts of big banks.

That’s while the income the central bank receives from government bonds it holds remains fixed.

The Bank of Canada dramatically expanded its assets during the pandemic as part of its government bond purchasing program. Also known as quantitative easing, the policy was part of the central bank’s efforts to stimulate the economy.

That expansion in assets is now costing the central bank, as it paid for the government bonds with the creation of settlement balances.

Speaking before the House of Commons finance committee last week, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem addressed the expected losses.

He said losses don’t affect the central bank’s ability to conduct monetary policy.

He noted the size and duration of the losses will depend on the path of interest rates and the evolution of the economy.

“Following a period of losses, the Bank of Canada will return to positive net earnings,” he said.

The Bank of Canada is looking to the federal government for a solution to balance its books.

While there are a few options available, some economists say the problem before the central bank is largely an accounting one rather than a monetary policy concern.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.

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Brownstone Institute

Sam Bankman-Fried and the Pandemic Industrial Complex

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Michael SengerMICHAEL SENGER

The collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried and his fraudulent cryptocurrency empire at FTX is news at its most entertaining. Who doesn’t love the story of a big shot billionaire revealed to be an outright fraud? It’s black-and-white. FTX owes billions in debt and doesn’t actually own a dime of the assets it claimed. Game over.

At first blush, the story seems simple. A con man cynically convinced a bunch of gullible financiers that he was an eccentric young visionary and a really great guy, and he ran off with the dough.

But take a closer look at the mainstream coverage, and you’ll realize there’s far more to this story than a classic financial fraud. In fact, the puff pieces from mainstream outlets about SBF and the causes he was funding—most notably, the pandemic planning industry—even after his empire was revealed to be an outright fraud, are the clearest instance we’ve seen of the modern political machine in all its cynicism.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles portraying SBF as a more-or-less honest businessman with a big heart who got tangled up in a bad situation. This is, of course, wildly inaccurate. From the very beginning, SBF had no intention of engaging in honest business. He never owned a dime of the assets he said he did. And in an incredible interview with Vox, he essentially admitted that there were never any good intentions behind his “philanthropic” contributions.

SBF-tweets

But it’s the Washington Post article titled “Before FTX collapse, founder poured millions into pandemic prevention” that’s most astonishing. As Jeffrey Tucker has documented, the Washington Post gushes over the tens of millions of dollars that SBF had donated to the pet left-wing cause of “pandemic prevention:”

FTX-backed projects ranged from $12 million to champion a California ballot initiative to strengthen public health programs and detect emerging virus threats (amid lackluster support, the measure was punted to 2024), to investing more than $11 million on the unsuccessful congressional primary campaign of an Oregon biosecurity expert, and even a $150,000 grant to help Moncef Slaoui, scientific adviser for the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine accelerator, write his memoir.

…Ok. But all that money was stolen.

Leaders of the FTX Future Fund, a spinoff foundation that committed more than $25 million to preventing bio-risks, resigned in an open letter last Thursday, acknowledging that some donations from the organization are on hold.

…Ok. But everything we did over the last three years for purposes of “preventing bio-risks” was an abject failure, leading—as was entirely predicted—to countless thousands of deaths due to delayed medical operations, a mental health crisis, drug overdoses, an economic recession, global famine, and hundreds of thousands of excess deaths among young people who were at little to no risk from the virus.

The FTX Future Fund’s commitments included $10 million to HelixNano, a biotech start-up seeking to develop a next-generation coronavirus vaccine; $250,000 to a University of Ottawa scientist researching how to eradicate viruses from plastic surfaces; and $175,000 to support a recent law school graduate’s job at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “Overall, the Future Fund was a force for good,” said Tom Inglesby, who leads the Johns Hopkins center, lamenting the fund’s collapse. “The work they were doing was really trying to get people to think long-term … to build pandemic preparedness, to diminish the risks of biological threats.”

SBF even played both sides, contributing millions for coverage of the Covid “lab leak theory.”

The Bankman-Frieds’ family foundation in February also committed $5 million to ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, to support reporting focused on pandemic preparedness and biosecurity, including one-third of the grant delivered upfront. The funding has subsidized several staff and articles — including a high-profile story with Vanity Fair about the possibility that covid leaked from a Chinese laboratory, which frustrated some of the Bankman-Frieds’ pandemic advisers who pointed to criticism of its translations of Mandarin Chinese.

This is, of course, in keeping with a years-long pattern of glowing press on the 30-year-old “crypto king”—whom Forbes had estimated to have a net worth over $15 billion—from the same business journalism outlets that were supposed to be holding him accountable.

We’ve been told not to question which policies billionaires choose to support, because it’s their money. But none of it was his money. It was all stolen.

We’ve been told it doesn’t matter whether the policies the billionaires supported actually worked, because their intentions were good. But here, SBF’s intentions had never been good. He donated the money solely for the purpose of glowing press to further his fraud.

We’ve been told the glowing press for billionaires who support these policies is justified, because the policies help the world. But these pandemics policies never helped the world. They created a man-made human and economic catastrophe, set back human rights by decades and decimated America’s global credibility.

From the earning of the money, to the donating of the money, to the positive press coverage, to the policies the process funded, at no point was there any good intent or positive outcome to any of it. The entire operation was pure, unadulterated evil.

This is the modern political machine in all its stark, inhuman nihilism. Once the machine is fed its priority, whether through fear, fraud, or outright corruption, then all its cogs snap into place—from the politicians and officials to the billionaires and journalists—and the only wrong a person can do is to oppose its priorities. The intent never mattered. The legality never mattered. The truth never mattered. The data never mattered. The results never mattered.

Republished from the author’s Substack

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  • Michael Senger

    Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. He has been researching the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on the world’s response to COVID-19 since March 2020 and previously authored China’s Global Lockdown Propaganda Campaign and The Masked Ball of Cowardice in Tablet Magazine. You can follow his work on Substack

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