Saturday, September 15, 2007

This can't be good

Long queues formed outside branches of Northern Rock today as anxious customers waited to withdraw savings after the bank was forced to seek an emergency bailout from the Bank of England.

Savers went in person to Northern Rock's branches to withdraw their money, after facing difficulties contacting the bank on the phone or via the internet.

Customers who manage their money on the internet were blocked from seeing details of their account, including statements, when they tried to log in.

This morning Northern Rock gave warning that its profits would fall by 23 per cent, and its shares have dropped by nearly a quarter in value, after problems in the global credit markets forced it to ask for emergency financial support.

William Gough, 75, arriving at a Northern Rock branch in Central London this morning, said he did not believe the bank’s assurances that his savings were safe and intended to withdraw his funds.

“They’re telling us not to worry but we’ve heard it before, with Marconi”, he said, referring to the collapse of the telecoms equipment firm in 2002.

“At the time I put the money in I wouldn’t have imagined something like this would happen,” Mr Gough said while joining the back of a 40-strong queue.

Customers queued for up to an hour and, as news of the Bank of England bailout spread, the throng inside the branch was so dense that some struggled to open the door. from the London Times

I continue to hear things about the economy that look really grim. A run on the bank? A literal panic? When is the last time something like this happened? I can't find any reference to a bank run in the Anglo world since the Great Depression.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The war in Iran has begun

Office of the Press Secretary
August 28, 2007
President Bush Addresses the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion
Reno, Nevada

[. . . ] The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late. (Applause.)
Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they've provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months -- despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Some say Iran's leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran's leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities.(Applause.)
We seek an Iran whose government is accountable to its people -- instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

There is a lot of talk about the fact that the United States is preparing to make a first strike attack on Iran with the hope of taking out not only possible nuclear development sites, but the entire military capability of Iran. The plan is to do this assumed to involve little need for ground troops. In fact, it can probably be done almost like a computer game, with the American soldiers sitting at a console somewhere far away.

But based on what the President told the American Legion, to predictable applause, that confrontation has already begun. The use of the word "confront" is relevant, because the Senate also passed a resolution using that same term in regard to Iran, 97-0. So much for Democratic resistance to the plan for endless war. Lieberman is the author of that bill.

I read elsewhere that Israel sought and received assurance before supporting the war in Iraq that Iran would be next on the list, to be followed by Syria.

But who is listening? Who is protesting? Who is even paying attention? The Today show shows us young women whose skirts are too short for Southwest Airlines, and the evening news offers us heart-warming stories about Marines who are also artists or soldiers whose legs were blown off but who still run marathons.

I don't think this war will be quite the piece of cake that Iraq was. I seriously fear for the future of my country. We seem to be positioned for a replay of both the Great Depression and World War 2. And Congress seems to have taken Ambien, sleeping through the whole thing.