Romania

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The Kids Are (Not) Alright





While the U.S. student loan debt “crisis” might be the primary concern associated with the youth population here, this morning's dreadful European data confirms that 15-24 year olds around the world are struggling with a more widespread and pressing issue: high unemployment. In 2012, the youth unemployment rate was 12.4%, projected to grow to 12.6% in 2013 – nearly 3 times the rate of adult unemployment, which stood at 4.5% in 2012. Developed economies, along with the Middle East and North Africa, have some of the worst youth unemployment rates in the world: the US’s unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds in 2012 was 15.4%, according to the Current Population Survey, more than 3 percentage points above the world average. ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes there is one exception to the U.S.’s high rates, though: for all the talk about how student loan debt has crippled young adults in the U.S., we actually have one of the lower unemployment rates for young adults with a tertiary (college) education – better, even, than many countries with free or low-cost universities (though the 'type' of jobs may be questionable).

 
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EU Extends Deficit Deadlines For Most European Countries, Admits Structural Adjustment Failure, Kills Austerity





Moments ago, the following European Commission website hit the interwebs, which can be summarized as follows:

  • EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR PORTUGAL TO 2015
  • EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR NETHERLANDS TO 2014
  • EU EXTENDS DEFICIT DEADLINE FOR SPAIN UNTIL 2016
  • EU RECOMMENDS LIFTING EXCESSIVE-DEFICIT REGIME FOR ITALY
  • EU SAYS 20 STATES CURRENTLY UNDER EXCESSIVE-DEFICIT PROCEDURES

Translation: the theatrical spectacle of Europe's austerity, which never really took place, is finally over. Going forward political incompetence will henceforth be known as just that: incompetence, and elected rulers will not be able to pass the buck to evil, evil, "austerity." More importantly, Europe has also proven without a doubt, that any "structural adjustments" on the continent are impossible, and that governments are locked in a spend till you drop mode.

 
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Latvia Joins Greece In Deflation As EU Inflation Slumps





Inflation slowed in 24 (of 27) EU nations in April to leave the average EU rate at 1.4% (versus 1.9% in March). Greece entered deflation in March for the first time in 45 years and Latvia consumer prices fell 0.4% in April (versus +2.8% a year ago). This notable plunge, while 'helpful' for the average spender in the short-term, is a problem, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, sustained falling prices will increase the nation's debt burden. At the other end of the spectrum, Romania and Estonia both have inflation running above 4% and 3% respectively. Of course, none of this serial 'depression' matters, since Draghi has your back and Hollande says "the crisis is over."

 
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Europe's Shadow Economy: As Big As Germany





On an unweighted average basis, European shadow economies are 22.1% of total economic activity or around $3.55 trillion (as large as Germany's whole economy). A report by Tax Research, suggests that Austria and Luxemburg have the smallest shadow economies in the euro area at 9.7% of GDP, while Bulgaria at 35.3% and Romania at 32.6% top the list. Of the major economies, Germany clocks in at 16%, France at 15%, Italy at 27% and Spain 22.5%. Stunningly, in terms of tax revenues lost, the shadow economy translates into an estimated €864bn or just over 7% of euro area GDP and, in context, accounts for 105.8% of the enture healthcare spending of the EU. It appears that more and more Europeans have no choice but to shift to a shadow economy (as taxes rise among other things), and this is the biggest threat to the entire economy. This is likely one reason the 'austerity' actions have not been successful since far less taxes are being paid via the conventional channels.

 
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Investigators Hit Brick Wall; Bank Of Cyprus CEO Hard Drives Wiped





As the investigation into unusual loan write-downs and the 'premature' movement of capital away from Cyprus by the elites of that nation progresses, Cyprus Mail reports that the investigators - Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) - have found that the information provided by Bank of Cyprus (BoC) was incomplete and data deleting software were found on the computers of two senior executives. "Our computer forensic technologists have found that the computers of two employees, (former CEO) Mr. (Andreas) Eliades and (senior manager group treasury and private banking) Christakis Patsalides, have had wiping software loaded, which is not part of the standard software installations at the BoC." Investigators found no e-mail files, mailboxes or user documents on Eliades’ desktop computer - "we had significant gaps in the e-mail data received from BoC for the period 2007 to 2010, a key period for our scope of investigation," and no email backups were performed. A&M is looking into how BoC accumulated €2.4bn worth of Greek government bonds (GGBs), later suffering huge losses because of that, and into BoC’s expansion to Romania and Russia. We are sure this is all above board and normal IT protocol for the bank... or not.

 
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Guest Post: Horsemeat Economics





The British (and now Europe-wide) scandal of corporations selling horse meat as beef is emblematic of many of the problems with big, unwieldy systems. The similarity between horse meat and subprime have already been noted - just as with subprime, complicated, impersonal systems have bred fraud. Similarly, in an equally sprawling and disconnected system — the global food supply chain — anonymity has bred irresponsibility once again. Retailers claim to have been misled. Meat processors and food manufacturers claim to have been misled too. But somewhere along the line, someone is lying. I am coming to believe very strongly that as this century continues, and as systemic interconnectivity and complexity increases, we will see many more horse meat and subprime style scandals exploiting the anonymity of big systems.

 
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Horsemeat Scandal Goes Global As World's Largest Food Maker Pulls Tainted Pasta From Spain And Italy





First it was Ireland, then the entire UK, then Germany, and gradually it spread to all of Europe (except for France of course, where it was always a delicacy). But it was only once its finally crossed the Alps and made its way to the Swiss factories of Nestle, the world's largest food maker, did the horsemeat scandal truly go global. The FT reports that "the escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities....Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn."

 
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Guest Post: Is Europe Next For A Shale Natural Gas Boom?





Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell are getting an early start on shale exploration campaigns in eastern European countries. With the United States fast emerging as a shale natural gas leader, European economies eager to bolster their own energy independence are working to follow suit. Shell plans to spend more than $400 million to tap into Ukrainian shale, while Chevron has similar ambitions in eastern Romania. While regional shale gas production isn't going to match that seen in the United States, it's expected to eventually weaken the Russian grip on the region's energy sector. The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates that, together, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania may hold many trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas. That was enough to give U.S. supermajor Chevron the confidence to move ahead with an exploration campaign there. The company began taking on shale concessions in 2010 and has since announced plans to start exploration. If EIA estimates are close to accurate, there may be enough shale gas in Romania to cover its energy needs for the next 40 years.

 
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Hidden Inflation Everywhere, From Watered-Down Bourbon To Horse-Meat Chili





Because “there’s no difference in the taste”

 
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So You Want To Be A Millionaire? This Is How Long You Have To Wait





The chart below, from the Economist, takes a look at how long it would take an individual from any given country to become a millionaire based on "how much the main breadwinner in an average household makes each year (before tax)." No major surprises here: the fastest spawning place for a budding millionaire, a term that has long ago lost its one-time cachet thanks to the world's central banks who have pumped some $14 trillion into the market, is the US, while those hoping to hit the vaunted seven figures in Bulgaria, Mexico and Romania would need to wait about 2-3 average lifetimes before they hit their monetary goal.

 
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Too Much European Integration? Romanian Donkey Meat In UK "Beef" Burgers





Thanks to a law banning horses from Romanian roads, the ever-enterprising and integrated European Union workers have apparently found a use for the millions of horses and donkeys that were slaughtered. In a bizarre report from The Independent, it appears 'donkey meat' has turned up on the shelves of British, French, and Swedish supermarket shelves (and no it doesn't taste like chicken or ass). The unintended consequence of the Romanian horse (and donkey) ban appears to follow a truly remarkable path from abattoirs in Romania (who must be busy) to a dealer in Cyprus (subcontracting for a Dutch dealer) to a meat plant in France which sold its frozen 'meat' onto a distributor in Luxembourg. French and British governments have forced the removal of the 'fake' beef from supermarket shelves as "a case of fraud and conspiracy against the public." Given last week's incredible footage from Greece, we suspect more than a few are willing to choke it down, as for now the British are pushing to ban meat imports.

 
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This Time Is Different





The 2008 crash resulted from the bursting of the biggest bubble in financial history, a ‘credit super-cycle’ that spanned more than three decades. How did this happen? Some might draw comfort from the observation that bubbles are a long established aberration, arguing that the boom-and-bust cycle of recent years is nothing abnormal. Any such comfort would be misplaced, for two main reasons. First, the excesses of recent years have reached a scale which exceeds anything that has been experienced before. Second, and more disturbing still, the developments which led to the financial crisis of 2008 amounted to a process of sequential bubbles, a process in which the bursting of each bubble was followed by the immediate creation of another. Though the sequential nature of the pre-2008 process marks this as something that really is different, in order to put the 'credit cuper-cycle' in context, we must understand the vast folly of globalization, the undermining of official economic and fiscal data, and the fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamic which really drives the economy.

 
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Citi Firing 11,000





Big news ahead of this Friday's NFP report:

  • CITI TO CUT OVER 11,000 JOBS, TAKE PRETAX CHARGE $1B IN 4Q

"Sandy's fault?" Or maybe the economy is collapsing despite all the propaganda one is spoonfed. Considering the recent termination of over 50,000 by UBS we think we know the answer. And while C stock may jump on the news, the end result is that New York and the US have both just lost 11,000 less key taxpayers most of whom are almost certainly in the $250,000+ bucket. That said we can't wait for the BLS to take this data as somehow beneficial for the unemployment rate.

 
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Europe's Gluttony Olympics: Fattest, Laziest, Drunkest





Forget Citius, Altius, Fortius ("Faster, Higher, Stronger"), the real Olympic challenge among Europe's nations is Pinguissimam, Ignavissumi, Bibe Maxime (Fattest, Laziest, Drunkest). As WaPo notes, there's nothing like tales of butter-eating, wine-guzzling, yet somehow-still thin Europeans to add to American angst over holiday calories and upcoming resolutions, but while overall Europeans are fairly healthy, a recently-released report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (below) found that the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and asthma has also increased — in part because of better diagnosis, but also thanks to underlying causes such as drinking, smoking and eating fattening foods. Here’s a look at which Europeans are most obese, most inactive and drink most (no, it's not the Brits):

 
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