- - Sunday, January 11, 2015

As restorative pageantry unfolds in Paris following a horrific week, tectonic plates that underlie global commerce and international security continue clashing. This new year, in which we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, is already fraught with peril.

Unlike in 1941, when America still had substantial untapped economic and military potential, now this country is saddled with towering financial obligations, and our president is sapped of ability to discern reliable friend from implacable foe.

After six years of “work,” what should you really expect in 2015 from a team led by an anti-capitalist community organizer so disconnected from facts and evident reality?



Addressing the clearest present danger

What makes President Obama think his track record and his capabilities insulate him from the responsibility of working with experts and veterans to address the toughest problems in the world?

At this very moment, Mr. Obama races ahead with his exit from Afghanistan and with releasing hardened enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay even as some Afghans gather to celebrate the “heroes” who slaughtered 17 precious lives in France, including satirists, police and shoppers.

Bad as events were in France last week, they continue to be much more concerning inside Nigeria — a nation of 177 million people, about half of them Muslims. As the people gather to mourn in France, authorities are not yet sure how many thousands of Nigerians have died in recent days as victims of radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

In 2015, will Mr. Obama dare to bring his American entourage and Western allies to Abuja? Do not hold your breath, but understand that “blowback” from escalating violence there will spill out widely across the African continent and beyond.

Instead of continuing on his rash course, Mr. Obama should get together with Rupert Murdoch, whose remarks this past week are worth noting carefully. Mr. Murdoch — along with the leaders of countries as different as Egypt, France and Canada — grasps that the world will never enjoy peace until we expose, eradicate and expunge the notion that any religion can legitimately encourage a follower to kill or harm any other person in the name of God.

A power strong enough to create the universe, and courageous enough to endow human beings with free will, needs little help judging the merits and demerits of our lives at the end of our short, precious time together.

This is a lesson and a change of heart that must be seen inside the Islamic world especially, but will it, and how long will it take to adhere?

Will 2015 crash be worse than the Great Depression?

On top of these geopolitical tensions, experts have proliferating concerns about the health of the global financial system.

Reports touting economic progress that stream out from federal government-controlled data compilers through the mainstream media ignore one surprising fact: The American economy seems strong not because it actually is strong but because the rest of the world’s substantial economies are so much weaker than each should be in the wake of six years of coordinated monetary easing and fiscal stimulus.

The small minority of us who own assets of any significance understand how much wealth will suddenly be destroyed once central banks and governments get weaned off of currencies that are backed by empty promises and of spending far more than each realistically can collect in taxes.

So do our rivals. Indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin is well aware of the fragility and vulnerabilities of America and of our remaining allies.

As now presaged by rising volatility, a capital markets crash could come on short notice. Experts soon will be able to confirm that the largest financial institutions and multinational corporations remain highly indebted and exposed. How will aging populations rebuild for retirement once reference interest rates rise and asset prices fall?

If you have any assets left, do not assume that Mr. Obama “has your back.”

Charles Ortel serves as managing director of Newport Value Partners (NewportValue.com), which provides economic research to executives and to investment firms.

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