World View: North Korea Positions More Missile Launchers on East Coast

This morning's key headlines from

  • North Korea positions two more missile launchers on east coast
  • Hunger strike at Guantanamo grows among prisoners
  • The assumptions for the Cyprus bailout are 'patently ridiculous'
  • Heavier fighting flares on the Syria / Lebanon border

North Korea positions two more missile launchers on east coast

North Korean child dictator Kim Jong-un and wife Ri Sol-ju
North Korean child dictator Kim Jong-un and wife Ri Sol-ju

North Korea continues to build up an arsenal of missile launchers long the east coast, apparently ready to launch missiles. In early April, the North Koreans moved two mid-range missiles and seven mobile missile launchers to the east coast. The speculation was that they would conduct missile tests on April 15, the 101st anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung. However, it now turns out that launchers for two shorter-range Scud missiles were moved to the east coast in the last few days, and appears to be prepared to launch several missiles as a show of force. This would trigger a new international crisis, even if the missiles landed in water. And it would trigger military retaliation if any American, South Korean or Japanese assets were put at risk. America has threatened to shoot down any North Korean missile, and the North Koreans have responded by threatening war if that happens. Yonhap (Seoul)

Hunger strike at Guantanamo grows among prisoners

The number of prisoners at Guantanamo prison taking part in a hunger strike has grown by 32 in just the last few days. 84 prisoners, over half of the 166, are now participating. Of those, 16 are now being force-fed, though no lives are in danger according to the Pentagon. The strike began on February 6, when the inmates claim that prison officials searched their Korans for contraband, and has been growing into a general hunger strike since then. AFP and Independent (London)

The assumptions for the Cyprus bailout are 'patently ridiculous'

Comments by several economists indicate that the assumptions underlying the recent European bailout of Cyprus are unrealistic, which should not be a surprise to any regular readers.

According to Megan Greene, chief economist at Maverick Intelligence:

"The underlying growth assumptions for the Cypriot bailout this year are hugely overly optimistic. Senior members of the ministry of finance in Cyprus admitted to me that they'd be quite pleased if the Cypriot economy only contracted by around 9% this year. With GDP falling more sharply than expected, Cyprus will fall behind on its fiscal targets, and as it implements ever more austerity measures to play catch up, will go deeper into depression. This bailout program ensures Cyprus will either need a second bailout or a debt restructuring in a year or two, with the latter more likely."

Note that the assumption that Cyprus's economy would contract by 9% is "hugely overly optimistic." That's very unpleasant reading.

According to Stephanie Hare, senior analyst for Western Europe at Oxford Analytica, the assumptions for Ireland, Portugal and other troubled European economies are also optimistic:

"The viability of the latest Cypriot rescue is highly questionable: forecasts of a deep recession this year (nearly 9.0%) and in 2014 (nearly 4.0%) may prove optimistic, while the projection that Cyprus will return to growth thereafter is patently ridiculous. Other euro-area bailout recipients remain enmired in debt, high unemployment and recession -- one reason why EU leaders agreed last week to grant Ireland and Portugal an extra 7 years to pay back their bailout loans. Efforts by the EU/ECB/IMF 'troika' to be positive are requiring ever-increasing contortion, including the tolerance of fiscal slippage, extended loan maturities, and debt write-offs. Risks remain high (Portugal could still require further assistance and Slovenia remains vulnerable) while the lack of growth throughout the region augers poorly for its long-term prospects."

These analyses continue to be consistent with the Generational Dynamics prediction that the world is headed for a major panic and financial crisis. Kathimerini

Heavier fighting flares on the Syria / Lebanon border

Areas held by al-Qaeda linked Sunni Islamist rebels on both sides of the Syria/Lebanon border were attacked on Sunday by combined forces of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, combined with Shia militias of Iran-backed Hizbollah. Saturday's attack was the first by Syrian forces deep inside Lebanon. The al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front in Syria threatened to "move the battle into Lebanon" if the Hizbollah backed offensive continues. Reuters

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