World Bank

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Iran Holds Air Defense Drills As IAEA Says Iran Blocks Access To Key Nuclear Site





As if the market needed another bizarro catalyst to ramp even higher courtesy of an even more pronounced drop in corporate earnings courtesy of soaring energy costs, that is just what it is about to get following news of further deterioration in the Nash equilibrium in Iran, where on one hand we learn that IAEA just pronounced Iran nuclear talks a failure (this is bad), and on the other Press TV reports that the Iran army just started a 4 day air defense exercise in a 190,000 square kilometer area in southern Iran (this is just as bad). The escalation "ball" is now in the Western court. And if Iraq is any indication, after IAEA talks "failure" (no matter how grossly manipulated by the media), the aftermath is usually always one and the same...

 
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Frontrunning: February 16





  • Europe Demands More Greek Budget Controls in Bid to Forge Rescue (Bloomberg)
  • Moody's Warns May Downgrade 17 Global Banks, Securities Firms (Reuters)
  • Officials at Fed Split on More Bond Buys (Hilsenrath)
  • Greek deal delays pressure periphery (Reuters)
  • Talk, but No Action, to Break US Grip on World Bank Job (Reuters)
  • Greek Rhetoric Turns Into Battle of Wills (FT)
  • Greece Seeks Monday Bailout Deal, EU Questions Remain (Reuters)
  • US Lawmakers Announce Payroll Tax-Cut Deal (Reuters)
  • China Leader-In-Waiting Xi Woos and Warns US (Reuters)
  • China's FDI falls 0.3% in Jan (Reuters)
 
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Guest Post: Confidence And Ruin Amongst The PIIGS





For today's installment we'll take a look at the debt:gold ratio for the PIIGS countries to see who puts the IG in PIIGS (perhaps you've already guessed). the ratio represents the multiple by which the country's debt exceeds its gold holdings. To an optimist, a high ratio means that the rest of the world has great confidence in the economy of the country in question. To a pessimist, a high ratio means the country is ruined. At a quick glance, it appears that Italy is no worse off than America--assuming that both countries actually have the gold the World Gold Council claims they have. Italy may have trouble getting theirs from New York, if that is where it is. Notice the decline in the ratio over the past decade--that is a reflection of the rising price of gold, not a decline in these nations' debts. Debt has increased over the past decade. The price of gold has apparently risen more. So does this mean these countries are becoming solvent? Can a rising price of gold solve our economic woes? Historically, a decline in this ratio can been used by governments to justify monetary expansion, particularly if it happened during an episode of such expansion. Why not? The improvement of the ratio suggests that the government isn't printing enough. The destruction of the value of the currency (and the country's debt) begins to occur faster than the rate of monetary creation (thus the label in the US graph "Ben proposes, the Market disposes"). The government counters this by printing faster, but the destruction of the currency's value is faster still.

 
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As Europe Goes (Deep In Recession), So Does Half The World's Trade





Following the Fed's somewhat downbeat perspective on growth, confidence in investors' minds that the US can decouple has been temporarily jilted back to reality. It is of course no surprise and as the World Bank points out half of the world's approximately $15 trillion trade in goods and services involves Europe. So the next time some talking head uses the word decoupling (ignoring 8.5 sigma Dallas Fed prints for the statistical folly that they are), perhaps pointing them to the facts of explicit (US-Europe) and implicit (Europe-Asia-US) trade flow impact of a deepening European recession/depression will reign in their exuberance.

 
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Everything You Need To Know About Europe In Three Charts





Juxtaposing Merkel's (righteous and principally correct) insistence on debt brakes and fiscal discipline with the socialist tendencies of her European (let us print) comrades is at the heart of the crisis in Europe. Nowhere is that more apparent than in these three charts, from the World Bank, which highlight just how large in absolute and relative terms Europe's social protection based government spending has become. This situation will only get more demanding as by 2060 almost a third of Europeans will be over 65 years old. While there was a belief that Europeans were willing to accept less growth for better growth (cleaner, smarter, kinder?), in order to meet the needs of an increasingly heavy 'social' burden, government debt brakes will clearly have to be unhitched further, no matter what Merkel demands (increasing tensions), or the 'new growth model' that is heralded but not yet substantive will have to be a miracle. As the World Bank notes "Europe will have to make big changes in how it organizes labor and government. The reasons are becoming ever more obvious: the labor force is shrinking, societies are aging, social security is already a large part of government spending, and fiscal deficits and public debt are often already onerous"

 
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Davos Post Mortem





And like that, this year's Davos World Economic Forum has come and gone, having achieved nothing except allowing a bunch of representatives of the status quo to feel even more self-righteous and important in the world's biggest annual circle jerk, in which fawning journalists ask the questions their cue cards demand, knowing too well their jobs are on the line if they ask anything even remotely provocative (and with the price of admission in the tens of thousands of dollars, one wonders just how many Excel classes these "journalists" could have taken as an alternative, in order to actually do some original math-based research, yes, shocking concept, to present to their readers instead of merely regurgitating others' talking points). Bloomberg TV has compiled the best video summary of the highly irrelevant soundbites by economists, CEOs and other people of transitory power, who provide absolutely no original insight into anything, and in which ironically it is Mexico's Felipe Calderon who summarizes it best: "we have a timebomb the bomb is in Europe and we are working together to deactivate it before it explodes over all of us." Lastly, we provide a quick glimpse into current and previous guests of Davos to show just how utterly worthless is the "braintrust" of those present.

 
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Frontrunning: January 25





  • Angela Merkel casts doubt on saving Greece from financial meltdown (Guardian)
  • Germany Rejects ‘Indecent’ Call to ECB on Greece, Meister Says (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Calls for Higher Taxes on Wealthy (Bloomberg)
  • Fed set to push back timing of eventual rate hike (Reuters)
  • Recession Looms As UK Economy Shrinks By 0.2%, more than expected (SKY)
  • King Says BOE Can Increase Bond Purchases If Needed to Meet Inflation Goal (Bloomberg)
  • When One Quadrillion Yen is not enough: Japan's first trade deficit since 1980 raises debt doubts (Reuters)
  • Sarkozy to quit if he loses poll (FT)
  • U.S. Shifts Policy on Nuclear Pacts (WSJ)
  • ECB under pressure over Greek bond hit (FT)
 
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IMF Cuts Global Forecast, Sees European Recession, Warns Of 4% Economic Crunch If No Euroarea Action





The latest IMF Global Financial Stability Report is out and it is not pretty. The IMF now sees:

  • 2012 world growth outlook cut to 3.3% from 4.0%, 2013 growth revised lower to 3.9% from 4.5%
  • 2012 US growth of 1.8%, 2013 at 2.2%
  • 2012 UK growth of 0.6%, down from 1.6%
  • 2012 China growth of 8.2%, down from 9.0%
  • Eurozone to enter "mild" recession, whatever that is, with -0.5% economic growth, to grow again in 2013 by 0.8%. Unclear just how with all the deleveraging...

IMF also adds that without action, the debt crisis may force a 4% Euro-area contraction, in line with what the World Bank, controlled by a former Goldmanite, said. Lastly, the IMF says that Europe needs a larger firewall and bank deleveraging limits. Well there is always that €X trillion February 29 LTRO.

 
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Peter Boettke Explains Austrian Economics





In this very informative interview between The Browser and Peter Boettke, the professor of economics discusses the contributions made by the Austrian School, and explains the various nuances of the economic school by way of recent books by "Austrians." He also explains what we can learn from Mises and Hayek, and argues that economics is the sexiest subject.

 
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2012 Gold Estimates Lowered By Banks - But Remain Bullish





The world's biggest primary silver miner, Fresnillo, had flat silver production in 2011. Output is only expected to remain stable in 2012.  African Barrick Gold said on Wednesday fourth quarter gold production fell 11% and missed its annual production targets. Despite price rises seen in 2011, gold and silver mining is remaining static contrary to claims by gold bears that higher prices would lead to increased production and therefore increased supply. Geological constraints may be impacting mining companies ability to increase production of the precious metals. Standard Bank has said it lowered its average 2012 gold price forecast by 6 percent to $1,780 an ounce, but continues to expect prices of the precious metal to touch new highs in the latter half of this year.  "We maintain that gold will reach new highs this year but, given our dollar view, we believe that these highs will be reached only in the second half of 2012," the analyst said in a note. Standard Bank expects the U.S. dollar to gain strength, especially against the euro, over the next quarter. A few other banks have recently lowered price forecasts for gold, including ANZ and Credit Suisse – however the majority remain bullish on gold’s outlook for 2012.

 
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Frontrunning: January 18





  • Here we go again: IMF Said to Seek $1 Trillion Resource-Boost Amid Euro Crisis (Bloomberg)
  • China said to Tell banks to Restrict Lending as Local Officials Seek Funds (Bloomberg)
  • EU to Take Legal Action Against Hungary (FT)
  • Portugal Yields Fall in Auction of Short-Term Debt (Reuters)
  • US Natural Gas Prices at 10-Year Low as Warm Weather Weakens Demand (Reuters)
  • German Yield Falls in Auction of 2-Year Bonds (Reuters)
  • World Bank Slashes Global GDP Forecasts, Outlook Grim (Reuters)
  • Why the Super-Marios Need Help (Martin Wolf) (FT)
  • Chinese Vice Premier Stresses Government Role in Improving People's Livelihoods (Xinhua)
 
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World Bank Cuts Economic Outlook, Says Europe Is In Recession, Warns Developing Economies To "Prepare For The Worst"





This will hardly be a surprise to anyone with 3 neurons to rub across their frontal lobe, but at least it is now official.

  • WORLD BANK CUTS GLOBAL GROWTH OUTLOOK, SEES EURO-AREA RECESSION

And the punchline:

  • World Bank urges developing economies to “prepare for the worst” as it sees risk for European turmoil to turn into global financial crisis reminiscent of 2008
  • Even achieving much weaker outcomes is very uncertain

Morgan Stanley may want to revise their 37% Muddle Through probability outcome, to something more like 36.745% on this news.

 
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