News That Matters
The ECB seems to be quite happy to comment on Greece, and most of the comments seem to say that Greece isn’t doing their part. Well, what about the ECB? What have they been doing for Greece? So far, not very much and I think they need to start to play nicely with their holdings. If the ECB just plays nicely, at no cost to the ECB, the situation in Greece would improve quickly and dramatically. The ECB must go from being a lender of last retort to a bona fide contributor to Greece and a true lender of last resort.
has warned that the tendency of global banks to avoid new capital requirement rules and load up on debt will continue to put pressure on their creditworthiness. The credit rating agency announced it was placing 17 banks on review for a downgrade earlier this year, citing “vulnerabilities” in the companies’ vast and volatile capital markets businesses. The potential downgrades have become a talking point on Wall Street, with some bankers openly criticising Moody’s and others privately attempting to change the agency’s mind in closed-door meetings.
Most Asian markets fell as investors shunned riskier assets after a surprise $2 billion trading loss by J.P. Morgan, JPM +0.25%with slowing Chinese inflation failing to cheer markets. Japan’s Nikkei was flat, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.3%, while Korea’s Kospi fell 1.1%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was 0.7% lower.  Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 1.1%, while the China Shanghai SE Composite lost 0.3%.

A massive trading bet boomeranged on J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +0.25%& Co., leaving the bank with at least $2 billion in trading losses and its chief executive, James Dimon, with a rare black eye following a long run as what some called the “King of Wall Street.” The losses stemmed from wagers gone wrong in the bank’s Chief Investment Office, which manages risk for the New York company. The Wall Street Journal reported early last month that large positions taken in that office by a trader nicknamed “the London whale” had roiled a sector of the debt markets.

Germany’s solution to the euro-zone crisis is for other countries to become more like Germany. Or at least more like the way Germany sees itself. For some economists, it’s not so much that the advice is wrong, it’s that the timing is bad. The prescription is well-known: Governments should curb their budget deficits and be as fiscally responsible as Germany. Weaker economies must be restructured and labor markets overhauled so as to replicate Germany’s economic makeover of a decade ago, which kept wages in check and remade the country into the export powerhouse it is today. Monetary policy across the euro zone, meanwhile, needs to be focused, as Germany’s has long been, on keeping inflation in check.

China’s consumer inflation eased in April, which could give more room for monetary easing in the world’s second-largest economy to support growth. China’s consumer price index rose 3.4% in April from a year earlier, slower than March’s 3.6% rise, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday. The rise in the key inflation gauge matched the median 3.4% gain forecast by 15 economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey. “CPI is broadly within expectations. The trend has been set really; it should continue to come down through the year, which should in theory set the stage for more monetary easing,” said IHS Global Insight economist Alistair Thornton. “There is a growing sense that more needs to be done on the monetary side in order to enact the modest recovery that we’ve been expecting,” he said.

Some immigration lawyers have seen a new increase in the number of Chinese seeking foreign citizenship, a trend they suggest is tied to worries about political turmoil and economic slowdown in China, especially among businesspeople and politicians seeking to protect their families and wealth. “There’s definitely a surge in China for what I call ‘let-me-out-now’ product,” said Jean-Francois Harvey, an immigration lawyer based in Hong Kong who deals with clients throughout Asia. The recent interest builds on a trend of growth in applications from Chinese seeking to emigrate to places like the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in recent years, including to programs that promise citizenship in exchange for investments: In the U.S., 75% of investor-immigrant applicants were from China in fiscal 2011.

Japan faces potential power shortfalls as high as 18.7% in the important manufacturing region around Osaka, a draft government panel report showed Thursday, presenting figures likely to contribute to the debate over whether to bring any of the nation’s nuclear plants back online. The projections are based on a scenario where none of Japan’s reactors have resumed operations by this summer and where the weather is as severe as in 2010the hottest summer since the country started collecting data in 1898. The panel is expected to submit the report to the government as early as Saturday, after further discussions about potential steps to promote conservation, such as imposing higher rates during peak demand hours.

The U.S. trade deficit widened in March but other data Thursday reflected two conditions that could spur the economic recovery: strong American exports and falling oil prices. The March trade gap expanded 14.1% from February to $51.8 billion, the government said. Growing demand from consumers and businesses for goods and services from abroad, along with high oil prices that have since retreated, sent imports surging 5.2% to a record $238.6 billion. But exports also showed strength, rising at the fastest pace since last summer to set their own record. Despite Europe’s fiscal woes and Asia’s slower growth, the U.S. sent
Gold slipped more than half a percent on Friday, heading for its worst weekly fall since March on weaker euro and equities, as investors failed to shake off worries about Europe’s debt crisis threatening global economic growth.Gold eased $6.72 an ounce to $1,587.01 by 22:57 EDT (0257 GMT) after shares in Asia were hit by JPMorgan’s (JPM.N) $2 billion loss from a failed hedging strategy and by political turmoil in the euro zone.

Brent crude for June delivery was down 76 cents at $111.97 a barrel by 23:24 EDT (0324 GMT), hovering slightly above its session low of $111.90. The crude benchmark is looking at a second weekly loss, following last week’s more than 5 percent slide, after dropping to three-month lows on Monday. U.S. June oil was harder hit, down $1.15 at $95.93 a barrel, resuming its downturn after ending a six-day slide on Thursday. U.S. crude is also on track for a second straight week of decline after touching a four-month low on Wednesday.
Vice President Joe Biden apologized to President Barack Obama for upsetting the White House’s timetable for revealing the president’s support for same-sex marriage, according to an administration official. Biden delivered the apology to the president the morning of May 9, before Obama gave an interview to ABC News in which he said he has had a change of heart and now supports legal gay marriage, the official said. Biden’s comments in a May 6 broadcast of NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage marked the latest instance in which the vice president publicly stepped on the administration’s message. The remarks forced Obama to speed up his timetable for revealing his position on gay marriage, administration officials said.

Greece’s next government may hold a trump card worth more than $510 billion if it heeds voters’ demands to renegotiate its bailout with the European Union. The nation owes about 400 billion euros ($517 billion) to private bondholders, public bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, and other creditors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 252 billion euros of that’s due to official organizations that used their status to avoid the losses suffered by ordinary bondholders when Greece restructured its debt two months ago. Greek voters are demanding their leaders renegotiate the terms of rescue packages that have imposed unprecedented austerity on the country since 2010. One potential prime minister, Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras, has pledged to tear up the EU-led bailout agreement. With Greece owing a sum roughly equal to Switzerland’s economy, the fallout for taxpayers could be calamitous if the country walks away.

U.S. stocks may plunge in the second half of the year “like in 1987” if the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) climbs without further stimulus from the Federal Reserve, said Marc Faber, whose prediction of a February selloff in global equities never materialized. “I think the market will have difficulties to move up strongly unless we have a massive QE3,” Faber, who manages $300 million at Marc Faber Ltd., told Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” from Zurich today, referring to a third round of large-scale asset purchases by the Fed. “If it moves and makes a high above 1,422, the second half of the year could witness a crash, like in 1987.”

Mitt Romney defended himself against a report he bullied fellow high school students suspected of being homosexual, as President Barack Obama’s campaign suggested the presumptive Republican nominee is intolerant on gay rights. Romney apologized yesterday for any high school pranks that might have been offensive following a Washington Post report that, according to others at the private school he attended, he led a group of boys in pushing down a screaming fellow student who was often taunted about his presumed sexual orientation.
Facebook’s record initial public offering is already oversubscribed, a source familiar with the share listing said, days after the world’s largest social network embarked on a cross-country roadshow to drum up investor enthusiasm. Despite concerns about slowing growth, a lofty valuation and signs the company is having trouble ramping up revenue from mobile advertising, institutional investors have so far indicated demand for more shares than Facebook has available, the source told Reuters. Analysts say the company, which is seeking to raise about $10.6 billion by selling more than 337 million shares at $28 to $35 apiece, may raise that price range if demand turns out to be healthy enough.

Japan is about to join Europe in the debt crisis ranks, with the two regions offering the best opportunities for investors to bet against, hedge fund manager Kyle Bass said. While the world’s attention has been focused on sovereign debt  issues in Greece and elsewhere, Japan will emerge as a problem area as well as the European developments accelerate, Bass told attendees at the Skybridge Alternatives, or SALT, conference. “Greece will circle the drain and be ungovernable in the next 30 to 60 days,” said Bass, founder of Heyman Capital and famous for presciently shorting subprime mortgage bonds before the industry collapsed. “Japan is in the crosshairs of the market…I’ve never seen more mispriced optionality in my entire life.”

The Australian dollar may have suffered sharp losses in recent months as China’s growth slowed and lower interest rates reduced the appeal of the currency, but Aussie bulls aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. According to Andrew Freris, BNP Paribas Chief Investment Advisor for Asia, the currency is “significantly oversold” and is still the best currency to own among all the Group of 20 nations. “I’m really genuinely upset it’s hitting one (to one with the U.S. dollar),” Andrew Freris, BNP Paribas Chief Investment Advisor for Asia, told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box”.

The U.S. economic recovery was “ahead of schedule,” even as insufficient consumer demand continues to pose a risk, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Thursday. “If you compare what’s happened in this recession with other recessions that have a similar antecedent, we’re actually ahead of schedule on this recession,” he said on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report.” “That’s not any reason to be satisfied, and there’s a lot more that needs to be done,” he said. “But it’s really completely misleading to compare a recession like this, caused by collapsing asset values, with the recession like the one we had in 1982 that was policy-caused in an effort to contain inflation.”
The U.S. Treasury said on Thursday it posted a budget surplus for the first time in 42 months in April on a rise in receipts in the month most Americans pay their taxes combined with lower expenditures. The Treasury said it had logged a $59.12 billion surplus in the month, compared with a $40.39 billion deficit in April 2011. The last time the government notched a surplus in any month was September 2008, officials said. The cumulative budget deficit for the first seven months of the year totaled $719.86 billion, compared with a shortfall of $869.81 billion over the same period in fiscal year 2011.
India’s SKS Microfinance has said it will cut 1,200 jobs and close 78 branches in the state of Andhra Pradesh amid mounting losses. Its business has been hit after the state introduced strict rules two years ago to curb alleged harassment of clients by microlenders. The firm said it had written off 11.2bn rupees ($210m; £130m) of its loans in the state. SKS, India’s biggest microlender, has seen losses in the last five quarters. “Closing down branches and reducing headcount are extremely painful decisions for us, but these have become urgent in view of the present financial situation,” said MR Rao, chief executive of SKS.

The Bank of France has predicted zero growth in the French economy for the first six months of 2012. Official figures for gross domestic product (GDP) for the first three months of the year are due to be released on 15 May, which is also the day of the inauguration of the new President, Francois Hollande. Mr Hollande was elected on a platform of boosting economic growth. The economy grew 0.2% in the last quarter of 2011.  In January, the French government halved its forecast for the whole of 2012 for 1% to 0.5%.

The Bank of England has continued to hold UK interest rates at a record low of 0.5% and is not extending its quantitative easing programme (QE). QE is the Bank’s scheme to boost the economy by buying bonds. In February, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) boosted the stimulus to £325bn. Rates have been at 0.5% for three years, despite persistent inflation. In March, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation rose to 3.5%, from 3.4% in February.
Homeowners were last month hit with the biggest rise in mortgage costs in almost three years despite interest rates remaining at a record low, according to Bank of England figures. Borrowers taking out two-year fixed rate deals, one of the most popular on the market, saw their average offer increase from 3.44pc in March to 3.65pc in April. It was the sharpest monthly rise since June 2009, and the seventh consecutive increase. As recently as September, a two-year fixed rate cost just 2.92pc. According to Defaqto, a financial research company, two-year fixed mortgages now account for 30pc of all current offers compared with 20pc in 2007. With annual gross mortgage lending running at around £150bn, the rising costs may be affecting more than £30bn of lending.
The United States remains deeply committed to Canada as a reliable energy supplier including oil sands production despite its delay of TransCanada Corp. Keystone XL pipeline. That was the message delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top energy adviser in Ottawa on Thursday. Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy on international energy, was here for a series of meetings with his disheartened Canadian counterparts on bilateral energy issues. Topping the list of the Canadians’ concerns was President Barack Obama’s decision last November to delay approving the Keystone pipeline after Nebraskan officials demanded it be re-routed to avoid a sensitive environmental area.
China will maintain a prudent monetary policy in the months ahead, while timely and appropriately fine-tuning the policy, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank, said Thursday. The government will make its monetary policy more targeted, flexible and forward-looking, said a report released by the PBOC to address the country’s monetary policy adopted in the first quarter. The statement came as the world’s second largest economy is trying to cool inflation while sustaining economic growth. Its first quarter GDP growth hit a nearly three year low of 8.1 percent caused by sagging exports and domestic tightening efforts.

China’s dependence on imported oil is continuing to rise, threatening the country’s energy security, the Ministry of Land and Resources said Thursday. Dependence on oil imports rose to 56.7 percent in 2011 from 54.8 percent in 2010 and 52.6 percent in 2009, according to statistics from the ministry. Oil consumption climbed 2.53 percent year-on-year to 445 million tonnes last year, while crude oil output inched up 0.5 percent to 204 million tonnes, the ministry said. Financial input for prospecting oil and natural gas has increased, growing by 6.9 percent in 2011 from one year earlier, the ministry said.

China’s foreign exchange regulator said Thursday it has approved quotas worth a total of 26.01 billion U.S. dollars for 141 qualified foreign institutional investors (QFII) as of Tuesday. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said on its website that it approved quotas worth 570 million U.S. dollars for five QFIIs on May 4 in a move to allow more QFII investment. The largest quotas went to the Taiwan-based TransGlobe Life Insurance Inc. and Fubon Life Insurance Co., Ltd., with each approved for a quota of 150 million U.S. dollars. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said Wednesday it approved five QFIIs in April, bringing the total number of QFIIs in China to 163.

Japan’s benchmark money supply measure rose 2.6 percent from a year earlier in April, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) said in a preliminary report on Friday. According to the central bank’s figures, the average daily balance of M2, which consists of cash in circulation, demand and time deposits as well as certificates of deposit at domestic banks, stood at 817.7 trillion yen (10.23 trillion U.S. dollars). Japan’s broader M3 money supply, which also covers deposits at postal banks and other financial institutions, meanwhile rose 2.3 percent from a year earlier to hit 1,122.8 trillion yen (about 14. 05 trillion U.S. dollars).

The U.S. economy is expected to grow at an annual rate of 2 percent in 2012 and 2013, while in Southern California job growth will be more robust at a pace of 1.5 percent, according to an economic forecast. The forecast by California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was released Thursday at the 18th annual regional conference. Focusing on the five-county region that includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, the 2012-13 Regional Economic Forecast estimated employment growth rates for the region as a whole and the national outlook.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday that Thailand’s economy is expected to post robust growth this year, while the country needs to continue with the economic reform agenda and guard against various domestic and international risks. The Thai economy is expected to rebound sharply this year partly due to monetary easing and a large fiscal package, after going through a challenging 2011 marked by massive floods and disrupted supply chains in the wake of the Japanese earthquake, the IMF said in a statement after its executive board concluded the 2012 Article IV consultation report on Thailand. The Southeast Asian nation’s short-term economic outlook remains favorable, but there are also significant downside risks stemming from the “unsettled global scenario, internal political uncertainties, and capacity constraints in the execution of public works,” said the 24-member IMF executive board.

Indonesian economy is predicted to grow by 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent next year, spurred by investment and consumption, Coordinating Minister for Economy Hatta Rajasa said here on Thursday. Hatta Rajasa said that investment would contribute to the growth by 3.03 percent to 3.13 percent, followed by household consumption by 2.62 percent to 2..85 percent. Previously the government forecast the economy to grow by 6.7 percent to 7 percent next year, according to Hatta.  The central bank on Thursday kept the key interest rate unchanged at 5.75 percent for the third straight month to help spur economic growth as inflation pressure persists.
Reflecting its serious concern for the falling rupee, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stepped in yet again with fresh measures to shore up the Indian currency. The apex bank has directed all exporters to repatriate (nay, sell) forthwith half their foreign exchange earnings.  Hitherto, all foreign exchange earners were permitted to retain their entire foreign exchange earnings in Exchange Earner’s Foreign Currency (EEFC) Account with any authorised dealer in India. On a review of this scheme, the apex bank said, “Fifty per cent of the balances in the EEFC accounts should be converted forthwith into rupee balances and credited to the rupee accounts as per the directions of the account-holder.” This process, the RBI said, must be completed within a fortnight.
Industrial production is expected to have risen by a weak 1.8 percent in March 2012 compared to 4.1% in Feburary 2012, according to an ET Now poll. Experts expect the FY12 IIP to grow 3.5-4 percent.Mining output in March likely grew at 1.2 percent compared to 2.1 percent in February 2012. Manufacturing likely grew at 1.8 percent and electricity at 2.3 percent compared to 4 percent and 8 percent, respectively, in February 2012.  The infrastructure index of eight core industries grew at modest pace of 2 percent in March 2012 versus 6.8 percent in February 2012 and 6.5 percent in March 2011. This index has 37.9 percent weight in IIP index.

India’ s trade gap narrowed to a seven-month low in April on weaker imports of gold, silver and petroleum, offering some respite to policymakers struggling to contain the burgeoning current account deficit. The commerce department reported on Thursday that trade deficit narrowed to $13.4 billion in April from $13.9 billion in the previous month. Although merchandise exports rose a modest 3.2% from a year earlier to $24.5 billion, reflecting lacklustre demand from the West, import growth decelerated 3.8% to $37.9 billion mainly because of a sharp slide in imports of gold and silver. A slowdown in petroleum imports also helped keep the overall import growth under check.
South Korea and Peru agreed to explore ways to expand industrial and energy cooperation that can benefit both countries, the government said Friday. In a meeting between Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo and Jose Luis Silva Martinot, Peru’s minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the two sides exchanged views on how best to achieve the “comprehensive strategic partnership” arrangement announced at the bilateral summit a day earlier. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Seoul and Lima agreed to create an industrial cooperation committee and explore the feasibility of South Korean construction companies building hydroelectric power stations in the South American country.

South Korea and Poland have agreed on a revised double taxation avoidance agreement to help boost bilateral economic cooperation, the finance ministry said Friday. The provisional pact was reached at a working-level meeting by tax officials in Warsaw, with a formal agreement to be signed at a later date. The agreement must be forwarded to respective parliaments for ratification.
The revised pact will replace the current agreement that went into effect in February 1992. The current taxation agreement does not sufficiently cover intellectual property rights and patent royalties, and has no provisions for financial data exchange and guidelines to prevent tax evasion. “The original agreement, because it is 20 years old, generally does not conform to the latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development standards on dual taxation,” said a ministry official.
The Central Bank left key interest rates unchanged Thursday, holding its refinancing rate at 8 percent, the fixed one-day repo rate a de facto ceiling for money-market rates at 6.25 percent, and the overnight deposit rate at 4 percent. It expects to meet its full-year inflation target of 5 percent to 6 percent but acknowledged that inflation will spike in the second half of the year because of a planned hike in utility tariffs, postponed from January to July, and a waning positive effect from slowing food-price inflation. “Uncertainty over the scale of influence of the mentioned factors remains a substantial source of midterm inflationary risks,” the Central Bank said.
An Iranian trade delegation to India has signed deals to buy shipments of rice, sugar and soybean from the South Asian country. The two countries which enjoy centuries-old relations are also seeking to increase annual trade to $24 billion in the medium term. All this comes despite the fact that the U.S. has put a great pressure on India to curtail its trade with Iran and even sent its top diplomat to New Delhi to convince India to reduce oil import from Iran. Indian officials say the countrywhich relies on imports for three-quarters of its crude needshas to buy from Iran to meet growing local demand for oil. India now imports between $10 billion and $12 billion of crude oil from Iran annually. In February, Iran agreed to accept payment in Indian rupees for up to 45% of its oil exports to India, and the countries have set up a credit window between Indian and Iranian state-owned banks.




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