Why there are 15,000 gold bars under De Nederlandsche Bank

It shimmers, will never rust and is especially rare: gold. The price of this precious metal has not been this high in six years.

In the first six months of this year, central banks bought huge amounts of gold. In total for $ 15.7 billion, according to data from the World Gold Council.

With geopolitical tensions in mind, such as the trade war between the United States (US) and China, countries fill their gold vaults.

The Netherlands also has a substantial gold supply; compared to other countries, this stock is in 10th place in the world. The total value: 26 billion euros.

In this video we explain why the Netherlands has all that gold:

Rethinking the rules of trade to counter an “unprecedented” extinction

An international conference on the environment has been working since Saturday in Geneva on strengthening trade rules for ivory, rhinoceros horns and other plants and animals threatened with extinction, while a million species are at risk disappear.

For 12 days, thousands of delegates from more than 180 countries, environmental and political leaders, will discuss 56 proposals in Geneva to change the level of protection afforded to wild animals and plants by the Convention on the Protection of Wild Animals and Plants. international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES).

“To continue as before is no longer an option,” CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero said at the beginning of the conference, warning that “the dangerous decline of nature is unprecedented”.

This treaty, created more than 40 years ago, sets the rules for the international trade of more than 35,000 species of wild fauna and flora. It also has a mechanism that allows it to impose sanctions on countries that do not respect these rules.

The Geneva meeting follows the publication of a UN report in May announcing that a million species are at risk of extinction.

The Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ivonne Higuero, addresses the World Wildlife Conference in Geneva on August 17, 2019. (AFP - FABRICE COFFRINI)

The Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ivonne Higuero, addresses the World Wildlife Conference in Geneva on August 17, 2019. (AFP – FABRICE COFFRINI)

“My fear is that we are (…) today really on the brink,” Higuero told AFP before the conference, hoping that delegates will agree on “changes in depth”.

Inger Andersen, who heads the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), also expressed this sense of urgency on Saturday: “We are losing species at a rate never seen before”.

She nonetheless expressed confidence in the ability of the CITES treaty to introduce sustainable trade rules for endangered species. “We need to find a viable balance between humanity and nature,” she said.

– “To change direction” –

The devastation of many species through poaching and illegal trade will be under the spotlight during the meeting, as will the challenges posed by wildlife crime on the internet.

Panel announcing the World Wildlife Conference, which is to strengthen the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), on 17 August 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
 (AFP - FABRICE COFFRINI)

Panel announcing the World Wildlife Conference, which is to strengthen the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), on 17 August 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
 (AFP – FABRICE COFFRINI)

This time again, the conference, which meets every three years, will consider several proposals concerning African elephants.

After decades of poaching that pushed the elephant population from several million in the mid-twentieth century to some 400,000 in 2015, the ivory trade was virtually banned in 1989.

Several Central, West and East African states are calling for a total ban on all ivory sales, while several southern African countries are demanding the right to sell registered ivory stocks belonging to them, saying that this could satisfy demand that encourages poaching.

Animal advocates say that previous ivory stock sale experiences have actually boosted demand and encouraged poaching, because of the difficulty in distinguishing between legally harvested defenses and others.

One of the 56 proposals discussed at the CITES summit is aimed at combating the networks of traffickers who are trying to shift elephant ivory to mammoth ivory, a species extinct for thousands of years.

The future of white rhinos decimated by intense poaching, American crocodiles and several species of sharks and rays are also on the agenda. And for the first time, delegates will look into the case of giraffes, whose populations have declined by some 40% over the last three decades.

“The future of biodiversity is at stake but (…) we have a unique opportunity to change course,” said Andersen.

No, Greenland does not want to be bought by Trump

The Greenlandic authorities said on Friday that their island was not for sale after revelations in the US press that Donald Trump has set his sights on the vast Danish autonomous territory.

“It must be an April fool”

The day before, The Wall Street Journal reported that the former New York businessman, who was once a renowned real estate tycoon before embarking on politics and becoming president of the United States, would have inquired several times with his advisers in the White House the possibility for the United States to buy this territory of 56,000 inhabitants.

“Greenland is rich in precious resources (…) We are open for business, not for sale,” the Greenland Foreign Ministry replied on Twitter on Friday. Joined by AFP, the cabinet of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen did not wish to comment immediately. “It must be an April fool”, tweeted the former head of the Danish government Lars Løkke Rasmussen (Liberal Party).

Natural resources

Greenland is a gigantic Arctic island, as big as France four times, rich in natural resources (oil, gas, gold, diamond, uranium, zinc, lead) and where the effects of global warming are evident. The melting ice, which causes the rise of the sea level, has multiplied by four between 2003 and 2013.

Since his election in 2016, the climate-skeptical president has notably removed the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and has systematically sought to unravel the environmental regulations adopted during the eight years of the presidency of the Democrat Barack Obama. predecessor.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953, when it entered the Danish “Kingdom Community”. In 1979, the island obtained the status of “autonomous territory”, but its economy still depends heavily on the subsidies paid by Copenhagen.

(With AFP)

Alleged interest: Will Trump buy Greenland? Arctic island is irritated

The alleged interest of US President Donald Trump in a purchase of Greenland has met with astonishment and criticism on the Arctic Island and in Denmark.

“Of course, Greenland is not for sale,” said the government of the politically Denmark belonging to island. “We have good cooperation with the US, and we see this as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the opportunities we offer,” the government's brief statement on Social Democrat Kim Kielsen said. Former Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen wrote on Twitter: “This must be an April Fool's joke.”

The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the CNN broadcaster had earlier reported that Trump had instructed consultants to consider the possibility of acquiring the autonomous Arctic island belonging to the Kingdom of Denmark. How serious the intentions are, even for his employees unclear. It was discussed, for example, whether such an offer was legal at all, how such an operation could proceed and where the money should come from. It is clear that Trump, who became rich as a real estate entrepreneur, plans his first visit to Denmark at the beginning of September.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen plans to travel to Greenland this Sunday and Monday for a meeting with Prime Minister Kielsen. However, this is not a reaction to Trump's alleged Greenlandic interest. Frederiksen's trip was already scheduled before these headlines appeared.

The foreign policy spokesman of the Danish social liberals, Martin Lidegaard, wrote on Twitter, the purchase idea is hopefully a joke. Otherwise, this would be “a terrible thought with the risk of a militarization of Greenland”. Greenland's MEP Aaja Chemnitz Larsen tweeted: “No thanks to Trump's plans to buy Greenland!” Rather, a better and equal partnership with Denmark should lead to a stronger and more independent Greenland.

The White House did not comment on the reports on request.

For Washington, Greenland is strategically important, according to US reports, because of its proximity to Russia, its Chinese interests and its perceived mineral resources. The US operates an air force base in Thule, which is part of its missile warning system. In 1951, the United States and Denmark had signed a defense agreement. During the Second World War, the US used the island for the airlift across the Atlantic.

However, the US idea of ​​a Greenland purchase was not new, it continued: After the Second World War, the then President Harry Truman 1946 Denmark offered 100 million dollars for Greenland. Another attempt should have been made in 1867.

Greenland, with its approximately 56,000 inhabitants, is about six times as large as Germany, much of the area is constantly covered in ice. Geographically, the largest island in the world belongs to North America, but politically to Denmark. Since 1979 she enjoys extensive autonomy within Denmark.

When retirement hurts: “The business was my life”

Those who retire must say goodbye. But one farewell is not the other. Sometimes the end of a career is really the end; of the trade or business. Because there is no successor. For example, Eugène Eurlings (69) closes with pain in his heart his furniture store that has been in the family for 104 years.

The store in Voerendaal in Limburg was built by his grandfather and grandmother. But now their grandson is retiring in September and is closing the doors forever. “My father would have preferred to die in armor,” says daughter Maud Eurlings. She worked in the business for 23 years, but wants to do something else.

For Eurlings himself, the turning point came two years ago when he got cancer and was admitted to the hospital. “It is actually the only week in my life in which I have not thought about turnover. Because normally I always asked: did you sell anything? But I had so much pain and so much pain that week. I realized: it is also possible that I never come out again. “

The best choice

And then he didn't want to saddle his daughter with the settlement of the case. “It should not be that Maud will soon get burned out, because her father wants to pursue that hobby so badly.” So, once discharged from the hospital, he cut the knot. The case had to be closed and he retired.

“That decision has been very difficult, but it is the best choice,” says Eurlings. Which does not mean that he is now looking forward to his retirement. “People say, gosh, you're going to enjoy yourself now. But I don't see it that way for a long time. The case was my life. So we'll see.”

500 sleep experts are worried: “Melatonin is not a sleep medicine”

In addition, a too high dosage can increase daytime sleepiness. Moreover, the long-term effects of taking melatonin are not yet clear.

Van der Werf therefore believes that melatonin is treated without obligation. “It's a hormone, it's not a simple, harmless substance.”

But if you can leave melatonin better if your sleep problem is not related to your rhythm, what can you do better? According to experts, it is important to first find the cause of your sleeping problem.

“If you take melatonin to sleep better while stress is the cause, you only fight a symptom,” says sleep expert Hans Hamburger. Then a pill makes little sense, but sleep therapy works better.

In Africa, the giraffe and the threat of “silent extinction”

For decades, Lesaiton Lengoloni had few questions when his path crossed that of the largest land animal. “With a giraffe, you could feed the village for more than a week,” recalls the Samburu shepherd living on the Laikipia plateau in central Kenya.

“There was no particular pride in killing a giraffe, not a lion,” said the man with the face crushed by time, leaning on a stick.

And no matter if the hunt for this charismatic animal is considered poaching, “it was a means of sustenance, we ate the meat, we used the skin for the leather and made remedies, and the tails were symbolically offered to seniors, “he explains.

But over the years, he says, reticulated giraffes, the subspecies living in this region, have become increasingly rare.

In a context of population growth, their habitat has been increasingly fragmented and reduced, while some continue to kill giraffes only for their bones and brains, considered as cures for AIDS, or their tails.

At the continental level, the number of giraffes decreased by some 40% between 1985 and 2015, reaching about 98,000 individuals, according to figures compiled by the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUCN), which however identifies distinct regional dynamics.

In Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, among other things, conflicts encourage poaching and make it virtually impossible to study and protect giraffes.

Notable increases have been recorded in southern Africa, but in eastern Africa the reticulated giraffe has lost about 60% of its individuals while the Nubian giraffe has experienced a tragic decline of 97%. In Central Africa, the Kordofan giraffe has seen its population decrease by 85%.

– Surprise –

IUCN's announcement of the giraffe ranking as “vulnerable” was welcomed with a relative surprise at the end of 2016. In the previous evaluation, in 2010, it was still classified as “minor concern”.

“The giraffe is a big animal that we see quite easily in parks and reserves, which could give the false impression that everything was fine,” says Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN Specialist Group for giraffes and okapis. “Especially since the problem lies mainly outside the protected areas”.

Many observers point to the threat of “silent extinction” for these reasons, especially since historically the giraffe has rarely attracted much interest from researchers.

“If we compare them to other charismatic species such as lions, elephants and rhinos, we know very little about giraffes,” says Symon Masiaine, coordinator of the program of study and protection of giraffes “Twiga Walinzi” ( Guardians of giraffes in Swahili), Kenya, started in 2016. “We are late, but things are changing”.

Arthur Muneza of the Giraffe Preservation Foundation recalls that the first long-term giraffe research was only done in Namibia in 2004, and that a number of giraffe data have been collected as part of on other animals.

It also notes that IUCN, in the absence of reliable data, had to wait until 2018 to be able to establish the threat level for some subspecies. The reticulate and the Maasai are now classified as “endangered”, the Nubian and Kordofan “critically endangered”.

“Without reliable data, it's difficult to establish adequate safeguards,” he says.

– Trophies –

The latest proposal is aimed at regulating international trade in giraffes under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which meets from 17 to 28 August in Geneva. But here too, a cruel lack of data takes center stage.

Six African countries, including Chad and Kenya, are proposing to classify giraffe as “a list of species that, although not necessarily threatened with extinction, could become extinct if trade in their specimens is not tightly controlled “. “Export or re-export permits” would therefore be mandatory.

Except there is “not enough reliable data” on the international trade in giraffes, whether trophies, body parts or artifacts, says Arthur Muneza. “It should first be a study to know the extent of the phenomenon and its possible influence on the populations of giraffes”.

Proponents of the proposal invoked the precautionary principle and stressed that a classification would force member countries to collect export data.

Critics denounce a proposal guided by “emotion” rather than “scientific facts,” and point out that the limited information available – the United States is the only country listing these imports – indicate that most of the trophies giraffes come from countries where giraffe populations are increasing (South Africa and Namibia).

On the set of Laikipia, Symon Masiaine believes that whatever the decision taken in Geneva, “it means that we speak about the giraffe, and it needs that”.

Commercial War: Trump releases pressure on China

Donald Trump released Tuesday the pressure against Beijing by delaying the imposition of punitive tariffs on a series of consumer products, a gesture also addressed to the US consumer before end-of-year purchases.

This initiative hailed with enthusiasm by markets and importers appears indeed as a gift to American consumers who feared price increases around the holidays because of tariffs.

Trump recognizes impacts for the US economy

“We are doing this for Christmas just in case it will have an impact on the American consumer,” acknowledged Donald Trump, adding: “we have postponed (the tariffs) so that they do not have influence on the holidays the end of the year”. This is the first time the President has so clearly recognized that the US economy – which the consumer is the main pillar – could suffer from the trade war it unleashed against China a little over a year.

He was quick to point out that “for now” the taxes he imposed on Chinese imports had had “no effect”. On the contrary, a majority of economists and the IMF insist on the disastrous effect of the trade war between the first two economic powers of the world on global growth.

In an attempt to break the deadlock, Americans and Chinese have returned to their language. Negotiators had a telephone interview on Tuesday called by the US president “very productive”. The US government therefore announced to postpone to December 15 the introduction of additional tariffs of 10% on Chinese electronic products that was scheduled for September 1.

This decision, which delays by two and a half months the taxation of a large part of the $ 300 billion of Chinese imports affected by these tariffs – about a total of about 550 billion Chinese goods imported each year to the United States- -, was celebrated by the markets.

Wall Street, which had started in the red Tuesday, worried about the political crisis in Hong Kong, went back into the green, the Dow Jones gaining 1.5% around 18H15 GMT, while oil prices climbed to London and New York.

Donald Trump wants to force Beijing not only to reduce its trade surplus with the United States but also to put an end to practices that it considers unfair, such as the theft of intellectual property for example. Already $ 250 billion of Chinese goods and materials have been taxed by Americans for a year.

In a statement, the services of the US Trade Ambassador USTR specify that the report announced Tuesday affects mobile phones, laptops and other gaming consoles made in China. Several stocks of companies that source largely in China jumped soon after the release of the release of the USTR: the action of the computer giant Apple, who plays big with his iPhone, and took more than 4.3% to the midday.

Phone calls

“We are certainly relieved that much of the goods are not affected during the holiday season,” responded AFP Rebecca Mond, vice president of the Professional Toy Association. “But we would like these tariffs to disappear completely,” she added.

The Federation of Retail Trade also rejoiced, but urged the president to find another way that tariffs “that kill American jobs and affect consumers” to bend China. Other products, which are related to health or safety in particular, will also be exempt from tariffs, said the USTR. The Bibles printed in China are part of it, said the administration.

This move by the Trump government comes as trade tensions between Beijing and Washington worsened when Washington officially accused China of manipulating its currency last week to gain a competitive edge on the export front.

Although the White House's initiative to delay new tariffs offers a breathing space in escalating tensions, it is unclear whether the next month's trade discussion session is being held.

The USTR said Tuesday that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had a telephone conversation with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He who is leading the negotiations for Beijing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attended the talks, an informed source said. Another phone contact is also scheduled in two weeks.

For his part, President Donald Trump continued to reproach in a tweet to China for still not having bought American agricultural products, as promised. He also said Tuesday that the United States could leave the World Trade Organization (WTO) criticized because it gives, according to him, preferential treatment to China to the detriment of the United States.

(With AFP)

Counter model to Scholz: Report: Altmaier presents paper on the abolition of soli

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) has presented a concept for the complete abolition of the solidarity surcharge – and thus a counter model to the plans of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD).

He proposes a deletion of the solos in three steps by 2026, as the “Handelsblatt” reported. The German press agency confirmed the plans on Thursday evening in ministry circles.

According to the newspaper, this “melt-down model” should help to make the tax burden for German companies more competitive in international comparison. Unlike Scholz, Altmaier relies on allowances. Whoever pays less than € 16,988 income tax in 2021 should not pay any more. For all others, the tax base is reduced accordingly. Despite exceeding the allowance, therefore, not all income needs to be taxed.

According to Altmaier's plans in 2024, this allowance should rise to 50,000 euros in income tax, and then capital companies should be completely relieved. According to the newspaper alone, this step would cost 7.7 billion euros – for counter-financing, Altmaier would like to examine, among other things, subsidies and the sale of federal participations. In a third stage, the solos should be eliminated in 2026 for all.

Scholz, on the other hand, wants to cancel the soli for only 90 percent of the payer, and a further 6.5 percent should pay him only partially from 2021 – the higher the income, the more. A complete abolition refuses the vice-chancellor, also because they would burden the federal budget with more than ten billion euros in addition.

Scholz sets in his concept on a tax threshold of 16.956 euros income tax. Up to this amount, no solos should be due. If the tax threshold is exceeded, however, unlike Altmaier's proposal, one has to pay taxes on the entire income.

In the Union, many are pushing for a complete eradication of the law. The FDP would like to abolish the special levy for the construction of the eastern German states even this year preferably. Everything else is broken words of the Union, said Group Vice Michael Theurer on Thursday. The abolition was promised at the latest for the end of the solidarity pact. Targeting an end for 2026 is a pity for the credibility of the entire policy.

Scholz, too, has already acknowledged that part-time soloing could only be a first step. “At some point you have to make a decision with regard to the remaining payer of the Solis,” he had said. This could include “for reasons of justice” but also a higher income tax for large earners. The theme could also be called on Sunday in the coalition committee.

The broadcast of 15 August

The state of the Dutch economy

The economy will grow by 1.4 percent next year, 0.4 percent less than in 2019. Unemployment will reach its lowest point this year, and it will remain that way for a while. Purchasing power is developing positively due to the rise in wages and to a somewhat lesser extent through policy measures. This is evident from the August 2020 estimate of the Central Planning Bureau, which is always important for decision-making on the 2020 budget.

We talk in the studio with our economist Mathijs Bouman and political clarifier Arjan Noorlander about the state of the economy and the possible measures that the government will take with regard to the new budget in September.

Turkey expels illegal Syrians en masse

They were tolerated for a long time, the Syrian migrants who had come to Turkey without papers and formal permission. But with nearly a million Syrians in Istanbul alone, the state has now taken action.

Last week, an estimated 15,000 illegal Syrians were arrested and sent across the border. Some of them were even sent to Idlib, where they are still fighting. Correspondent Lucas Waagmeester reports.