News That Matters

As our readers know, we have been writing about the Spanish collapse for over a year prior to mainstream media discovered Spain. The Spanish bank bail out will not be sufficient to fix the rotten property sector. Spain will ultimately need much more money to shore up the banks, and even more to “fix” the economy. Unemployment is still rising. These are all structural issues, that can’t be bailed out.
France is pressing the EU to adopt a financial stability package to stem the eurozone crisis, believing negative market reaction to the €100bn bailout of Spain’s banks shows the need for more comprehensive action.  Ahead of the EU summit due on June 28, Paris is set to propose a package of measures to put the European Central Bank in charge of bank supervision and to use the European Stability Mechanism, the new €500bn eurozone rescue fund due to come into force next month, to recapitalise banks directly.

Bankers’ bonuses across the European Union are set to be limited by law, with many bank lobbyists admitting in private that they have lost the fight against a European Parliament initiative to limit the size of bonuses relative to salary. Some banks still hope to increase the proposed ratio from 1:1 to 2:1 or beyond, while others are trying to limit the restriction to upfront cash bonuses, excluding deferred payouts. But many bankers now accept the principle of a ratio as inevitable.

Moscow forcefully rejected on Wednesday Hillary Clinton’s accusation that Russia was supplying Syria with helicopter gunships that could be used against civilians, as Syria announced it had “cleansed” the rebel town of Haffa of armed fighters. Speaking in Tehran, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Moscow was instead “completing contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago. All of them are contracts for what are solely air defence systems.”


Myanmar received a significant economic boost on Wednesday when the International Labour Organisation voted at its annual conference to lift restrictions on the country, paving the way for its admission to membership and preferential treatment for its exports to EU markets. The decision, taken a day before Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the plenary session of the ILO conference in Geneva, removes a crucial impediment in Myanmar’s trade and business ties with the EU.

Lloyd Blankfein brushed off speculation about his future at the head of Goldman Sachs, joking that he expected either to stay at the investment bank “forever” or to “die at my desk”. Speaking to reporters after a public event in Chicago on Wednesday, Mr Blankfein said the history of Goldman suggested he was likely to stay in his job for the long term.

Tony Blair has delivered a stark warning of a popular backlash against austerity policies in the eurozone ahead of this Sunday’s re-run election in Greece. “You look at what the Greeks are being asked to accept: it’s beyond tough,” Mr Blair said in an interview with the Financial Times in Jerusalem.  The former long-standing UK prime minister, a self-professed pro-European, said the risk of unrest applied to Europe as a whole. “In the end, what people will ask is: ‘Is the single currency worth it if that’s what we’re being asked to accept’.”

Can German brainpower win against Chinese muscle? A feature of the coming decade will be whether Germany’s world-renowned Mittelstand engineering companies can maintain their competitive strengths in the face of the drive by their counterparts in China to expand globally. A signal of intent was the €525m acquisition in January by Sany, a fast expanding Chinese construction equipment producer, of the German company Putzmeister, until recently the world’s biggest maker of concrete pumps. Sany intends to use its German acquisition to reach new markets in the western world, as well as to accelerate development of its own technology and design.
Fears about the health of Spain’s financial system were prominent in Asian markets, sending them lower Thursday, and investors looked ahead to an Italian debt auction later in the day.  Japan’s Nikkei Average dropped by 0.7%, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 lost 0.9%, while South Korea’s Kospi was flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.8%, China Shanghai Composite was 0.5% lower and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.5%.

The owner of Greece’s largest foreign-held bank is making plans to walk away from the bank if the country leaves the euro zone, the latest sign of growing international concern over the future of Europe’s currency union. The contingency plan for Crédit Agricole SA, ACA.FR +3.49%France’s third-largest publicly traded bank, comes ahead of pivotal elections in Greece Sunday that could set the country on a path to leave the 17-nation currency bloc. A host of international companies have said they are preparing contingency plans, with many voicing concerns about how to retrieve cash in the country if Greece exits the euro zone. But none have disclosed potentially walking away from their assets in Greece.

Big money managers and Wall Street banks are laying the groundwork for a new marketplace for corporate bonds, an effort that highlights the heft of large investors and the impact of new rules limiting bank risk-taking. In recent weeks, senior traders at investment managers and big Wall Street banks have been discussing how the financial industry can set up a centralized electronic market that would let all participants trade bonds freely with one another, according to people involved in the talks. The discussions are at an early stage and details have yet to be worked out. Numerous previous efforts at starting electronic-trading venues for bonds have failed to gain traction among a wide cross section of users, in part because there are so many different bonds, which makes it hard to find ready buyers and sellers for the same security. At the same time, the talks point to an urgency in the industry to respond to regulatory shifts that some users fear will make bond trading more expensive.

Germany’s Bundesbank is considering adding Australian dollar assets such as bonds to its foreign currency holdings in a move that would reaffirm Australia’s emerging status as a safe haven amid growing disquiet in Europe, bankers say. Officials from Germany’s central bank have stepped up meetings in recent months with major Australian banks to discuss the possible change in foreign currency strategy, said two people with knowledge of the meetings, who both declined to be named because of commercial confidentiality. The German institution’s interest in the Australian dollar has grown “very serious,” said one of the people directly involved in

Rising Italian bond yields are casting doubt on the ability of Prime Minister Mario Monti and his technocrat cabinet to extract the country from the escalating euro-zone debt crisis. The 4% Italy paid on Wednesday to sell one-year Treasury billstwice the yield of a month agounderscores the urgency of finding a master plan for the region’s currency union. Meanwhile, the Treasury will sell as much as €4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) on Thursday in longer-term bonds, on which yields have also risen. Mr. Monti told Parliament on Wednesday that he had no intention of looking for external help from the International Monetary Fund, before flying to Berlin to attend a prize ceremony with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. German officials praised Mr. Monti’s overhaul efforts.
Gold futures closed higher Wednesday, extending their advance to a fourth session, as traders gauged prospects for further quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.  Gold for August delivery rose $5.60, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,619.40 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Stock Exchange. It’s scored a four-session gain of 2%. Futures prices traded lower around $1,612 before the economic data were released, climbed immediately afterward only to briefly trade lower and recover again. Gold closed at $1,613.80 an ounce Tuesday, building on a winning streak that began at the end of last week.

Oil futures finished lower Wednesday, giving back all of the previous session’s gains and then some, with oil demand concerns fed by disappointing U.S. economic data. The loss came despite a government report showing a broad decline in petroleum supplies last week
U.S. foreclosure starts rose year-over-year in May for the first time in more than two years – though they fell on a month-to-month basis – as banks resumed dealing with distressed properties after a mortgage abuse settlement earlier this year, data firm RealtyTrac said on Thursday. The $25 billion settlement between major banks and states, formally approved in April, had been expected to jump-start foreclosure proceedings that were previously stalled by uncertainty about the liability of banks. Overall foreclosure activity, which includes default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, affected 205,990 properties in May, a 9.1 percent increase from April.

President Barack Obama, seeking to counter deep doubts about his economic leadership, will ask voters on Thursday for more time to boost growth while arguing that his Republican rival Mitt Romney would resurrect policies that plunged the United States into crisis. Obama will use a campaign speech in the battleground state of Ohio to try to bounce back from a series of recent setbacks. These include an anemic jobs report and a misstep in which he seemed to play down the economy’s woes by saying the private sector was “doing fine.” He later told reporters he did not think the overall economy was fine.
Funds planning to invest more than $6 billion to buy and rent foreclosed homes are finding it easy to raise money. The difficulty is spending it. The number of low-cost foreclosed homes coming to market has dropped, bulk sales have been slow to materialize and prices are recovering in markets such as Phoenix, making it hard for private-equity firms, hedge funds and pension systems to buy as many homes as they need.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon spent much of his time at a hearing where U.S. senators aimed to put him on the defensive firing back at the federal regulatory system. During more than two hours before the Senate Banking Committee, Dimon described a $2 billion loss in the bank’s chief investment office as a hedge that “morphed into something I can’t justify,” and largely blamed subordinates for a trading strategy gone wrong. The bank is looking at clawing back some of the compensation earned by those responsible, he said.

Ukraine hoped the European soccer championships would showcase its progress since the Soviet Union collapsed. Instead, it’s shining the spotlight on accusations of political repression, graft and aging infrastructure. Almost eight years after the bloodless Orange Revolution propelled the country toward closer European integration, the bloc’s leaders are boycotting the tournament, which culminates July 1 in Kiev. They say democratic values have slipped since President Viktor Yanukovych took over in 2010, dislodging the leaders of the protests that overran the capital’s main square.

Tensions among European leaders are breaking into the open as bond investors reject their fixes for a debt crisis that threatens to overwhelm the euro region’s financial firewalls. German Finance MinisterWolfgang Schaeuble sniped at Greek yacht owners in comments published yesterday while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared “battle” on the European Central Bank. Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter retracted a forecast that Italy would need aid, and Spain pushed back against Finnish advice on how to use its 100 billion-euro ($126 billion) bank bailout. Rifts are deepening with Greek elections on June 17 risking the first exit from the single currency as voters buckle under the continent’s most severe austerity program. Spanish bond yields reached a record after the nation’s request for aid for its banks fueled speculation the world’s 12th biggest economy may need a full rescue. “What we’re seeing now says much about the deepening cracks in Europe’s political financial and economic edifice,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London, said in a telephone interview.
Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on Spanish government debt by three notches on Wednesday From A-3 to to Baa-3, saying the newly approved euro zone plan to help the country’s banks will increase the country’s debt burden.  Moody’s, which said it could lower Spain’s rating further, also cited the Spanish government’s “very limited” access to international debt markets and the weakness of the country’s economy. The rating is on review for possible further downgrades, which could come within the next three months. A spokeswoman at Spain’s Economy Ministry in Madrid declined to comment.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday a U.S. growth rate of 2 percent is not enough to get Americans back to work and that the country had a long way to go to repair damage to the economy. He said the most helpful thing Washington can do to spur growth is to extend middle-class tax cuts and take the threat of default off the table. “We need to … force this town to confront and take on the things that divide us on these long term fiscal reforms, so that we can go ahead and govern, and start to address the many other problem this country faces,” the Treasury secretary said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Wednesday that European Union leaders have the political will to keep the euro currency union from breaking apart. “They’ve decided that it’s in their interest to hold this together,” Geithner said at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “They tell us privately that they will do whatever is necessary to hold it together.” Geithner backed the steps EU leaders have outlined to form a banking union, boost crisis resources and revive the ailing European economy. But he stressed that the Europeans need to act quickly to enact those reforms as the crisis enters “another major escalation.”
The Treasury Department sold $21 billion in 10-year notes on Wednesday at a record-low yield of 1.622%. Bidders offered to buy 3.06 times the amount of debt sold, compared to an average of 3.29 at the last four comparable sales, according to CRT Capital Group. Indirect bidders, a group which includes foreign central banks, bought 42% of the auction, compared with 44.3% on average. Direct bidders, a group which includes domestic money managers, purchased another 20.8% — the highest proportion since August and versus a recent average of 14.1%. After the auction, the broader bond market extended gains. Yields on 10-year notes , which move inversely to prices, fell 4 basis points to 1.63%. Yields on 30-year bonds , which will be sold Thursday, slipped 2 basis points to 2.75%.
New Zealand’s central bank signaled it may keep interest rates at a record low for another year, extending a 15-month pause as weaker domestic growth eases inflation and Europe’s fiscal crisis clouds the outlook. “Our forecast for 90-day interest rates is consistent with not having to push the OCR up for some time,” Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Alan Bollard said at a news conference in Wellington today after earlier keeping the official cash rate at 2.5 percent. The central bank cut its forecasts for economic growth in the next three years, citing falling commodity prices and spending restraint. The RBNZ’s next step may depend on what happens in Europe, where a Greek election June 17 will influence whether it exits the euro, causing greater financial-market turmoil. The New Zealand dollar rose after today’s language lacked any specific signal Bollard will cut borrowing costs, even as interest-rate swaps reflect a 64 percent chance of a cut by September.
Output from eurozone factories fell by 0.8% in April, according to the latest official figures from EU body Eurostat. The drop in industrial production was not as bad as feared, and March’s figure was revised up to a 0.1% fall. But the fall in output is a sign of slower economic activity. Eurozone GDP stagnated in the first quarter of the year and shrank at the end of 2011. On Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti again called for a plan to boost EU growth.
“Brent oil prices would again hit $50 (£32) a barrel” in a worst-case scenario, according to analysts Jan Stuart and Stefan Revielle. “Oil demand would deflate sharply following acute crises of confidence.” The analysts said that all potential negative scenarios involved Europe “to some degree” with the starting point of collapse coming over the summer. However, Brent crude rose $1.06 to $98.20 yesterday after the US Energy Department said the country’s stockpiles had seen a surprise fall of 191,000 barrels to 384.4m barrels last week.

The German government has begun opening the door to shared debts for the first time in a profound change of policy, agreeing to explore proposals for a €2.3 trillion (£1.9 trillion) stabilization fund in order to stop the eurozone’s crisis escalating out of control.  Officials in Berlin say privately that Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to drop her vehement opposition to plans for a “European Redemption Pact”, a “sinking fund” that would pay down excess sovereign debt in the eurozone. “It is conceivable so long as there is proper supervision of tax revenues,” said a source in the Chancellor’s office. The official warned that there would be no “master plan” or major break-through at the EU summit later this month.
Few large eurozone banks would be left standing and the banking sector could face a €370bn (£298bn) lossif the euro crisis results in the single currency bloc breaking apart, according to one of the first indepth analyses of what might happen if the eurozone disintegrates. The analysis by Credit Suisse estimates that up to 58% of the value of Europe‘s banks could be wiped out by the departure of the “peripheral” countries – Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – from the eurozone.
The Canadian housing market is on the wrong side of the ledger in a survey of global housing prices for the first time since 2008, down 2 per cent from the same time last year when adjusted for inflation as stricter borrowing rules and fading demand cool the market. The report from Scotia Economics underlines the difficulties facing markets around the world. Weakness in real estate markets is a direct threat to the banks that financed housing booms around the world, as bad loans threaten their balance sheets.
Japan’s core machinery orders rose by a bigger-than-expected 5.7 per cent in April from the previous month, data showed on Wednesday in a positive sign for the nation’s hard-hit economy. The core private-sector data, which exclude volatile demand from power companies and for ships, turned up after a 2.8 per cent drop in March, according to official data from the Cabinet Office. The market had expected a rise of 1.5 per cent in April.  Machinery orders are seen as a leading indicator of corporate capital spending and watched for movements that may reflect the outlook for the broader economy.
Philippine export earnings recovered in April, after a slight dip in March, posting a 7.6 percent growth on year, the National Statistics Office reported Thursday. The country’s export earnings rose to 4.64 billion U.S. dollars, 7.2 percent higher than the previous month. This is mostly due to higher revenues earned by key export products including garments, furniture and ignition wiring sets. However, earnings from exports of electronic products, which account for one third of the total export revenue, dropped 23.8 percent on year to 1.64 billion U.S. dollars. It also fell 23.8 percent on monthly basis.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced here Wednesday it has approved an additional loan of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars to Ireland, bringing its total disbursement to the country under a three-year bailout package to about 22.8 billion dollars. The disbursement was the latest effort of the global financial support for the debt-mired country under the 85-billion-euro (106.5-billion-dollar) bailout program set in December 2010. It was approved by the IMF executive board after its sixth review of Ireland’s performance under the massive financing program, of which a major chunk came from Ireland’s European partners.
Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings is optimistic about China’s long-term development and its capital markets, especially for blue-chip shares, Ding Wei, head of Temasek’s China operations, told China Securities Journal yesterday. The company has applied for new investment quotas under China’s Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program. Regardless of the current weakness in A-share market, Temasek still believes that China would be a core market for its longterm investment, and China`s blue chip stocks are really attractive.
Temasek got the QFII investment quotas in November 2005. It had approved $300 million investment quotas currently.
Even as there was just a marginal increase of 3.62 per cent in gross direct tax collections at Rs.52,232 crore in April-May this fiscal as compared to Rs.50,407 crore mopped up in the first two months of 2011-12, net accretion to the Centre’s kitty witnessed a huge jump owing to lower refunds. According to a Finance Ministry statement here on Wednesday, net direct tax collections were significantly higher by 172.64 per cent at Rs.35,323 crore during April-May this year against Rs.12,956 crore garnered during the same period a year ago.  “This upward surge in net collections was due to decline in refunds by (-) 54.85 per cent as compared to the year-ago period,” it said. Refunds during the two months of this fiscal totalled Rs.16,900 crore.
Indian stock market does not present attractive prospects for investors in the near term amid sluggish domestic and global economic growth outlook, according to Goldman Sachs. The global investment banking major Goldman Sachs in its report said that a sluggish domestic and global growth outlook would have a bearing on the Indian equities in the coming months.  “We find that the Indian stock market does not present an attractive risk/reward entry point currently as macro headwinds are likely to persist in the near-term,” it said.
The government is not satisfied by the 60/66 tax system for oil and petroleum products, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday during a meeting on taxation of the oil and gas sector at the central office of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz in the Moscow region, Interfax reported. “[The tax scheme] is so far not what we would have liked,” Medvedev said. The 60/66 system was introduced in October to stimulate oil production at existing fields in West Siberia and encourage deeper oil refining. But ministries said as early as the first quarter of 2012 that the system was not producing the desired results and oil companies said downstream profits had fallen.
As global demand firms and domestic demand remains robust‚ economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to strengthen to 5% in 2012‚ the World Bank says in its newly-released Global Economic Prospects (GEP). It foresees growth of 5.3% in 2013 and 5.2% in 2014. According to the world body‚ economic growth in the region remained robust in 2011 at 4.7%. Excluding South Africa‚ growth in the rest of the region was stronger at 5.6%‚ making it one of the fastest growing developing regions. “Higher commodity prices and improved macroeconomic and political stability in recent years has supported increased private investment flows to the region‚ with promising prospects in the medium term.
A looming oil embargo on Iran, will destabilize the global oil market and spark higher prices, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi warned Wednesday in Vienna. Sanctions imposed on Iran will damage the world economy and increase oil-price volatility, Bloomberg quoted Ghasemi as saying.  “Sanctions ultimately will lead to a sharp swing in the price of oil,” the minister said. He spoke at the International OPEC Seminar in Vienna, a day before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets to determine output levels. Crude exports from the country are the target of sanctions from the U.S. and a European Union ban on buying the country’s oil takes full effect on July 1.  Ghasemi didn’t comment in his speech on whether Iran seeks any change in OPEC’s production target and declined to comment to reporters earlier in Vienna.

An Iranian oil official says Iran plans to raise the crude output at Soroush oilfield in Persian Gulf by employing state-of-the-art technologies. Director of the Research and Technology Department at the National Iranian Offshore Oil Company (NIOOC) Jalal Mousavi said Tuesday that research studies on Soroush oilfield started sooner than scheduled to update the foreign advisory company engaged in the development of the field.  More than 30 tests are expected to be carried out on reservoirs of Soroush oilfield and the results will be passed on to the advisory firm, Mousavi pointed out.  The Iranian oil official noted that appraisals on other oilfields will begin once preliminary measures have been taken. He added that NIOOC aims to increase oil production at ten fields, including Nourouz, Abuzar, Salman and Balal.