Wednesday, 30 June 2010

HSBC Takes Top Spot From CIMB in Sukuk Sales: Islamic Finance

BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: HSBC Holdings Plc is overtaking CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. as the top underwriter of Islamic bonds as sales from the Gulf pick up and corporate issuance from Malaysia, the biggest market for the debt, declines.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest lender by market value, arranged $1.6 billion of global sukuk so far in 2010, about 25 percent of the total, led by Saudi Electricity Co.’s issuance in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. CIMB Group, Malaysia’s second-largest banking group, led $1.4 billion of sales of debt that complies with the religion’s ban on interest. Last year, CIMB was the top underwriter, managing $4.4 billion of offerings.

“The origin of the issuer may have an impact on the decision to hire which underwriter,” Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, chief economist at Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd., the country’s oldest Shariah-compliant bank, said in an interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. “If the issuance amount is huge, issuers may have some level of comfort with a foreign bank.”

Sales of Malaysian ringgit-denominated sukuk slumped 44 percent to 9.4 billion ringgit ($2.9 billion) so far this year as companies delayed infrastructure projects after the economy slipped into recession in 2009. The government began a 230 billion ringgit, five-year development plan on June 10, which may revive offerings of Islamic bonds, according to Malaysian rating company RAM Holdings Bhd. >>> Soraya Permatasari and Khalid Qayum | Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Amid Gunfire and a Threat of War, Brothers Cultivate Grapes of Peace

Sami, left, and Ramzi Ghosn produce 300,000 bottles of wine a year. Photograph: The Times

THE TIMES: Across Lebanon’s beautiful Bekaa Valley the vineyards shimmer in the heat of summer. The past decade has witnessed an extraordinary renaissance in the country’s 4,000-year-old winemaking tradition, with an expansion from four Lebanese winemakers in the 1980s to about 35 today.

At weekends Beirut residents drive out to enjoy food cooked in clay ovens next to the Massaya winery, run by two brothers determined to revive the family business in the shadow of Hezbollah’s guns. Amid tinkling fountains, banks of rosemary and trestle tables of grilled chicken and hoummos washed down with cinsault, syrah and cabernet sauvignon blend rosé, war is hard to imagine.

But the tap-tap of machinegun fire and muffled explosions echo in the distance. The training camps and bunkers of Hezbollah, the Shia militia that fought Israel to a standstill in 2006, lie to the north and south of the valley and in the hills along the Syrian border. Israeli spy drones buzz in the sky, their cameras fixed on Bekaa.

When Sami Ghosn returned from a decade living in Europe and America the moment seemed auspicious. The Oslo Accords appeared to herald a new era of peace.

His country, however, lay in ruins, the family estate overgrown and occupied by Palestinian squatters. With a Christian militia friend of his father’s, Sami and his brother, Ramzi, set about reclaiming the ancestral lands in lawless Lebanon. “I was sleeping with my gun,” he recalls.

The first years of production were limited to arak, a fiery aniseed spirit much loved locally. But in 1998 the brothers produced their first wine vintage. The Massaya vineyard is backed by a number of French winemakers and, in its first years, employed a French oenologist. “The challenge was very high and we needed the French support. That gave more substance to our venture,” Ramzi says.

Success came swiftly. The brothers’ 2000 vintage won a five-star accolade in the French viticultural bible Le Revue de Vin de France. It was one star more than the arch rival, Château Musar, the most famous and longstanding vineyard in Lebanon, could boast. Continue reading and comment >>> Tom Coghlan, Bekaa Valley | Monday, June 28, 2010
Greece Suffers Fifth General Strike as Metro Blockaded in Madrid

Violence erupted in Bilbao during a one-day general strike. Photo: The Times

THE TIMES: Violence broke out during Greece’s fifth general strike of the year, while in Madrid the Metro was blockaded in a foretaste of a summer of industrial unrest.

As Mediterranean governments push through austerity measures, masked youths took part in running battles with police in Athens, with domestic flights and many ferry sailings from the port of Piraeus cancelled.

Public and private sector unions in the country announced that there would be a sixth all-out stoppage next week, when the package of pay and pension reforms comes to a final vote.

“These measures will not help. They will only lead to deeper recession and poverty,” said Despina Spanou, a board member of the Adedy civil servants’ union, which helped to organise the marches. “We are resisting the slaughtering of our rights.”

The governments of Greece and Spain are increasingly worried about the impact of unrest on tourism — which is a mainstay of both economies. >>> Philip Pangalos in Athens, William Bond in Madrid, David Charter in Brussels | Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Majority of Germans Want Deutschmark Back

THE TELEGRAPH: A majority of Germans want to scrap the EU's single currency and bring back their beloved Deutschmark amid popular anger that Germany has bailed the euro zone out to the tune over £100 billion.

More than 51 per cent of Germans want to axe the euro after widespread fury that Germany's taxpayers have been forced to come to the rescue of Greece and other high spending southern European countries.

Only three in 10 people in Europe's largest economy now support the single currency, a flagship of EU integration and Germany's European policy. >>> Bruno Waterfield | Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Liberté, égalité … austérité? Sarkozy Clamps Down on French Ministers' Perks

THE GUARDIAN: No more cigars, flights or luxury hotels for politicians, says French president, after spate of expenses scandals

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, cancelled his own summer party and has insisted his ministers tighten their belts. Photograph: The Guardian

Spare a thought – and perhaps a euro – for the poor French politician.

No more taxpayer-funded Cuban cigars, private jets, or even luxury hotels. And, if Nicolas Sarkozy has his way, no more overstaffed offices and unfettered use of the ministry photocopier.

Having cancelled the Elysée palace summer garden party, the French president has decided everyone else must "make an effort" to tighten their professional belts. Anxious to be seen wielding the austerity axe following a spate of scandals over official perks, not to mention a ballooning public deficit, he is demanding ministers' spending be "vigorously reduced".

Ministers have been told that their official visits will be "strictly curtailed" and they will be encouraged to take the train, not the plane, with a reduced retinue of advisers. Away from home they must only stay in a hotel if there are no bedrooms available in state-owned buildings, such as embassies and consulates.

The order came in a letter to the prime minister, François Fillon, in which Sarkozy warned that those defying his austerity measures would face "punishment". >>> Kim Willsher in Paris | Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Cuba’s Economic Crunch

Bronwen Maddox: Pain in Spain Steadies the Euro’s Slide to the Abyss

THE TIMES: That’s a relief. Spain’s Cabinet backed a new plan yesterday to shake up the rigid, 32-year-old labour laws. There’s still parliament to go, with a vote on Tuesday, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the embattled Socialist Prime Minister, will have to dig deep into the ranks of regional parties to win enough support. But if he had failed to get yesterday’s deal through, we could have expected the euro to plunge. Even so, rumours of a bailout of Spain by the International Monetary Fund, although denied by the fund, drove down the currency yesterday.

Greece may be Ground Zero of the eurozone crisis, but Spain, with an economy four times the size, matters far more. The real fear that drove Germany to pull together a €750 billion bailout last month was that Spain would default on its debt. That could bring down banks across Europe — in Britain, too — and cause the euro currency to unravel. That prospect prompted President Obama to add his personal exhortations to the German-led efforts, and China’s leaders to put off an interest rate rise.

Spain is also the best test of whether, despite the bailout, Europe will be hit by a second crisis. The drama has paused, as Greece and others have vowed to reform. But as scepticism about Hungary showed this month, many fear governments have promised cuts they cannot deliver.

Zapatero has promised a lot. He has taken a tilt at laws that have given gold-plated security to those in long-term work and in the public sector. No easy task: those laws, embedded in the 1978 Constitution, codify some of the most far-reaching social rights in Europe. They represent a rejection of the dictatorship of General Franco, who banned unions and strikes, and reflect the strength of the Communist Party during the transition to democracy. They have been one of Spain’s proudest possessions, but now they are strangling its growth.

Those rules have cut the country in half, creating a parallel economy of temporary, low-paid jobs with few rights. In the past decade, as Spain revelled in a property boom, construction created millions of contract jobs. Those have vanished; the white concrete skeletons of half-finished coastal apartment blocks are testimony to the sudden collapse. A fifth of the workforce is unemployed. >>> Bronwen Maddox, Commentary | Thursday, June 17, 2010
Greek Police Clash with Protesters over Austerity Reforms

Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades. Photograph: The Times

THE TIMES: Masked youths fought running battles with police in Athens today as violence broke out during the country’s fifth general strike this year.

Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters who threw chunks of marble and set rubbish bins on fire.

Ferry passengers at Greece’s main port of Piraeus had to run a gauntlet of protesters who succeeded in blockading some departures to Aegean islands and there were marches in other major cities.

The strike was timed to coincide with the start of a parliamentary debate on reforms designed to make it easier for companies to sack employees and raise the retirement age.

Greece has had to agree to sweeping austerity measures in return for help to meet its sovereign debts.

The country avoided bankruptcy last month only after receiving the first instalment of a 110 billion euro emergency loan package from the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF). >>> David Charter, Europe Correspondent | Tuesday, June 29, 2010
La rigueur met les LibDems en position difficile

Le ministre des Finances conservateur, George Osborne, a annoncé des mesures drastiques. Photo : Le Figaro

LE FIGARO: Le plan d'austérité présenté par le chef du gouvernement britannique fragilise sa coalition.

La politique de rigueur mise en place par le gouvernement de David Cameron provoque déjà des tensions au sein de la coalition organisée avec les libéraux-démocrates de Nick Clegg. Plusieurs députés LibDems protestent ouvertement contre les hausses d'impôts annoncées la semaine dernière par le ministre des Finances conservateur, George Osborne. Quatre d'entre eux sont même allés à l'encontre des consignes de leur parti, en proposant un amendement au budget qui rendrait inapplicable la hausse de la TVA de 17,5 % à 20 %, qui devrait avoir lieu en début d'année prochaine. Ces élus s'inquiètent de l'impact de la hausse de la TVA sur les foyers les plus modestes, et auraient préféré que les nouveaux impôts soient plus «progressistes », en faisant porter la facture sur les plus riches.

Le petit parti libéral-démocrate n'a décroché que 55 députés sur 650 sièges lors des dernières législatives, mais il est devenu un partenaire indispensable pour les conservateurs de David Cameron qui, avec 306 élus, étaient restés en deçà du seuil de la majorité absolue. Pendant toute la campagne, et lors des négociations de coalition avec les tories, le groupe de Nick Clegg a avancé un programme fiscal progressiste, insistant sur la nécessité de rendre les impôts «plus justes », en allégeant le fardeau des revenus modestes. La semaine dernière, le groupe d'analyse Institute for Fiscal Studies a commenté que la hausse de la TVA allait avoir un impact plus sensible pour les plus pauvres et a qualifié le budget de «plutôt réactionnaire ». >>> Par Cyrille Vanlerberghe | Mardi 29 Juin 2010
David Cameron: 'The World Doesn't Owe Us a Living

THE TELEGRAPH: Britain has no automatic right to prosperity, David Cameron has said, declaring: “The world doesn’t owe us a living.”

Mr Cameron told business leaders in London that Britain has no automatic right to prosperity. Photograph: The Telegraph

The Prime Minister said many people are under the “delusion” that just because the UK has historically been one of the richest countries on earth, it will always remain so.

Only if we “reboot and rebuild” the UK economy can the country’s future prosperity be assured, he said.

Mr Cameron used a speech to business leaders in London to argue that the spending cuts and other changes his Government is planning are not discretionary political choices but essential economic moves to stop the country falling behind its competitors.

He said: “I think too many people in this country are living under the delusion that a prosperous past guarantees a prosperous future. But it isn’t written anywhere that this country deserves a place at the top table.

He added: “It was once said that freedom once won is not won for ever; it’s like an insurance premium – each generation must renew it. Economic prosperity is the same. Just because we’ve had it before doesn’t mean we’ll automatically get it again.” >>> James Kirkup, Political Correspondent | Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday, 28 June 2010

G20 Protesters Clash With Police

U.S. Treasury Chief Geithner Urges G-20 Leaders to Continue Government Spending

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Treasury secretary, speaking at the summit in Toronto, says the global recovery remains fragile and that ill-timed austerity measures could derail gains. Obama meets privately with other leaders.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner holds a news conference during the G-20 summit in Toronto. Photograph: Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Toronto — They smiled for photos and announced agreement on everything from nuclear containment to development efforts in Africa on Saturday, but world leaders gathered in Toronto have a tougher challenge as they get down to brass tacks on the best way to keep the global economic recovery from stalling.

Going into Sunday's meetings with the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging nations, the Obama administration was pressing leaders to stay the course they set more than a year ago to promote growth through government investment in the economy.

Spooked by economic meltdowns in Greece and elsewhere on their continent, European leaders came to those talks concerned about racking up a damaging level of debt. Their proposal of a punitive global tax on banks to fund future bailouts was meeting opposition from other nations but remained under consideration late Saturday.

But U.S. and Canadian leaders predicted that a common purpose would emerge before the G-20 summit ends Sunday, one representing a balance between economic stimulus and plans for deficit reduction.

"We have to find the right balance, and that balance is going to differ across countries," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said. "But I think you're going to see a strong commitment again by these major economies to do what is necessary to make sure that we are supporting recovery and getting that balance right." >>> Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times | Sunday, June 27, 2010
Super-Notenbank warnt vor neuer Finanzkrise

DIE PRESSE: Die Bank für Internationalen Zahlungsausgleich befürchtet, dass die Staaten vor einem neuen Crash stehen. Sie fordert strengere Vorschriften für die Banken. Die Politik scheint die Rufe nicht zu hören.

Wien. Die in Basel ansässige Bank für Internationalen Zahlungsausgleich (BIZ) sieht die Gefahr einer neuen Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise: „Was wir Ende 2008 und Anfang 2009 erlebt haben, könnte sich durch einen Schock beliebiger Größenordnung wiederholen“, schreibt das Institut in seinem am Montag veröffentlichten Jahresbericht. „Verbleibende Schwächen des Finanzsystems zusammen mit den Nebenwirkungen der anhaltenden Intensivbehandlung drohen einen Rückfall des Patienten zu verursachen und die Reformbestrebungen zu untergraben“, heißt es weiter.

Die Sanierung der Banken sei nämlich „bei Weitem nicht abgeschlossen“. Die BIZ gilt als „Notenbank der Notenbanken“. Da ihre Experten Daten der wichtigsten Finanzmärkte analysieren, die sie von den Notenbanken geliefert bekommen, verfügen sie über ein gutes Frühwarnsystem. >>> Christian Höller | Montag, 28. Juin 2010
Ministers to Review Pub Smoking Ban

MIRROR: Ministers are to review the smoking ban amid claims it is crippling Britain's £6billion[-]a-year pub and bingo industry.

Around 130 bingo halls - 20 per cent - have closed in the three years since the ban in 2007. Thirty-nine pubs go bust a week.

The Government has ordered a review of anti-smoking laws this autumn. >>> | Sunday, June 27, 2010
Internet Porn Billionaire to Take Over Le Monde

THE TELEGRAPH: Le Monde's journalists' association, the paper's main shareholder, have voted for the daily to be taken over by three French investors who President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to block.

The consortium is made up of Pierre Berge, ex-partner of the late fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse and internet tycoon Xavier Niel.

Mr Niel made his fortune on internet pornography, chat lines and peep shows.

The trio have promised journalists at the paper a "blocking" vote on future changes and complete editorial independence.

The journalists' association voted 90 per cent in favour of their bid and rejected an offer by a group that includes France Telecom subsidiary Orange, the Nouvel Observateur group and Spain's Prisa, which owns El Pais newspaper.

The newspaper is expected to make its final decision on the offer by the end of the month.

Le Monde, France's flagship daily, is being crushed by a mountain of debt and put out a call to investors capable of injecting between 80 and 120 million euros to come to its aid. >>> | Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Nation Is in Deep Debt and Stiglitz Calls for Profligacy! Osborne's First Budget? It's Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prizewinner who predicted the global crisis, delivers his verdict on the Chancellor's first Budget and tells Paul Vallely it will take the UK deeper into recession and hit millions – the poorest – badly

George Osborne will probably not be very bothered that there is a man who thinks he got last week's emergency Budget almost entirely wrong. But he should be. Because that man is a former chief economist at the World Bank who won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on why markets do not produce the outcomes which, in theory, they ought to.

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, who has been described as the biggest brain in economics, is distinctly unimpressed by George Osborne's strategy. This, he predicts, will make Britain's recovery from recession longer, slower and harder than it needs to be. The rise in VAT could even tip us into a double-dip recession.

Stiglitz, who was once Bill Clinton's senior economic adviser, is now professor of economics and finance at Columbia Business School. He was in the UK this week at the University of Manchester, where he chairs the Brooks World Poverty Institute, but he lifted his head from the detail of international development to scrutinise the economic strategy of the Conservative Chancellor whose Liberal Democrat partners recently reversed their judgement that massive public spending cuts now would endanger the economy and joined in the Tory slash-and-burn strategy. They were deeply wrong to do so, he believes. Continue reading and comment >>> | Sunday, June 27, 2010
Day Dawns for G20 Discussion After Night of Protests and Arrests

Police officers on Queen Street West (Toronto) Saturday night. Photograph: The Globe and Mail

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Vigil at detention centre broken up by police; more than 400 arrested Saturday as storefronts vandalized, at least three police cars burned

More than 400 people have been arrested in connection with G20-related protests, and skirmishes between riot police and protesters continued into the early morning Sunday in downtown Toronto, only hours before leaders of the G20 are scheduled to begin their summit.

Police officers, with batons out, were searching bushes around a University of Toronto building near Russell Street and Spadina Avenue, in what appeared to be a major raid. At least two police buses were on the scene, along with more than 10 other police vehicles, mostly unmarked minivans. One bus was a "prisoner bus," a police officer said.

Several dozen police officers were searching trash cans. At least two people were seen with handcuffs on. More than 50 people had been arrested for wielding "street-type weaponry", such as bricks, police said. Some of thopse arrested looked much older than typical university students. The raid was at the Bancroft Building, the Earth Science Centre and the Graduate Students Centre.

After more than 14 hours of sometimes-violent confrontations between protesters and officers, the downtown core was largely quiet; discarded water bottles and plastic zip-tie handcuffs littered streets that had been the scenes of standoffs hours before. >>> Anna Mehler Paperny and Chris Hannay | Sunday, June 27, 2010

G20 Protesters Take to Toronto Streets

Police Cars Ablaze at G20

World on Economic ‘Tightrope:’ Harper

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Summit turns to dilemma of sustaining growth versus cutbacks

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Photograph: The Globe and Mail

Group of 20 leaders meeting in Toronto Sunday will try to come up with an agreement on fiscal belt-tightening that finds the right balance between telling markets they are serious about cutting deficits and debt, and keeping the global economy from backsliding.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper opened the second day of talks by saying the summit must strike the proper balance between sustaining economic growth and pulling back fiscal deficits.

“Here is the tightrope we must walk,” Mr. Harper said. “To sustain the recovery, it is imperative that we follow through on existing stimulus plans. At the same time, advanced countries must send a clear message that as our stimulus plans expire, we will focus on getting our fiscal houses in order.”

Separately Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters the summit leaders will agree to Mr. Harper’s call for countries to slash their budget deficits by half by 2013.

“This will be part of the final document,” she said. Continue reading and comment >>> Jeremy Torobin | Sunday, June 27, 2010
Age of the Iron Fist Is Over, Says Gadaffi Jr

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Saif al-Islam, the son of Colonel Gadaffi, said the time for 'military regimes, kings, crown princes' had passed

The 38-year-old Saif is widely seen as a potential successor to his father. Photo: The Sunday Times

The son of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than 40 years, has declared that the country no longer needs a “great leader”.

In an interview last week, Saif al-Islam Gadaffi said the time for “military regimes, kings, crown princes” had passed.

“The future is for managers — people will elect managers and not have kings or great leaders,” he said. “People should be free to elect their own leaders. The future is for democracy. There is no other way for Libya.”

The 38-year-old champion of reform, who is widely seen as a potential successor to his father, warned that his country could face “very serious trouble” if it failed to adopt a more liberal approach to relations with the West.

Dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and trainers, he strolled into the flower garden of a friend’s villa on the outskirts of Rome and said: “Hi, I’m Saif.”

Sitting beneath a wooden gazebo near a pool surrounded by palm and cedar trees, he outlined his vision of Libya as a tolerant, 21st-century state enriched by tourism.

“I would like to make Libya the Vienna of north Africa,” he said passionately, referring to his favourite European city. Luxury hotels were already being built, he added.

Gadaffi, who studied for his PhD at the London School of Economics, smiled as he claimed that tough visa restrictions for westerners would be abolished soon, starting with the British.

Measures had also been discussed to permit the sale of alcoholic drinks to foreigners in hotels, he said. “It will happen,” he added. “We will create the right environment for tourism in Libya. If you have no drink, no visa, no hotels, nobody will come.” Continue reading and comment >>> Sara Hashash and Hala Jaber | Sunday, June 27, 2010

Unit Sales to Be Axed by Mad New EU Law

THE GROCER: It tried to ban pounds and ounces. It introduced rules on bendy fruit and veg.

Now, if controversial EU Food Labelling Regulations are approved, Europe will outlaw the sale of groceries using numbers - the oldest, most basic measurement of all. 

Under the draft legislation, to come into force as early as next year, eggs by the dozen, a four-pack of apples, and eight rashers of bacon along with scores of other grocery goods would be banned as a description on packaging, after MEPs last week voted against an amendment to the regulations that would allow individual states to nominate products that can be sold by number. 

Each country is currently allowed this exemption under existing EU food directives. But the new Food Labelling Regulations make no such provisions. And all groceries would have to be sold according to their weight instead costing the industry millions, and leading potentially to labelling chaos. 

The legislation could even see special unit-based promotional packs offering 'eight chocolate bars for the price of six' banned.

The legislation was declared "bonkers" and "absolute madness" by food industry experts, and although the implications of the draft were likely to have been an oversight, according to Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson, it may be too late to change. 

"The problem is now the exemption has been omitted from the legislation, it will be very difficult to get it put back in," said Polson. >>> | Saturday, June 26, 2010

THE GROCER: Editor's Comment: The EU’s attempt to simplify labelling has created a multi-headed monster >>> Adam Leyland, The Grocer | Saturday, June 26, 2010
Coalition to Tell Unemployed to 'Get on Your Bike*'

THE TELEGRAPH: Radical plans to relocate the long term unemployed to areas where there are jobs are being drawn up by the Coalition.

Iain Duncan Smith has revealed radical plans to relocate the long term unemployed to areas where there are jobs. Photo: The Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, discloses the move in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph today in which he outlines proposals to make the workforce “more mobile”.

The controversial plan echoes the words of Norman Tebbit in 1981 when he told the unemployed to “get on your bike” and look for work.

It is part of tough action to cut spiralling welfare bills and tackle Britain’s record deficit.

Last week a major shake-up of housing benefit and increased health checks for disability claimants were announced as part of the biggest cuts in public spending for almost a century. >>> Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor | Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Reform Bill Holds Wall Street Accountable to People: Obama

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama is close to winning the top three priorities on his legislative checklist, even as recession-weary Americans give him some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

The US Congress has approved the most sweeping overhaul of US financial regulation since the Great Depression, just three months after passage of Mr Obama's landmark healthcare legislation.

Less than a month after taking office, Mr Obama signed into law one of the biggest economic-rescue efforts in US history.

Mr Obama said on Friday the financial overhaul will hold Wall Street ''accountable'' to the American people.

''We are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression,'' he said at the White House before leaving to attend international economic summits in Canada. >>> Veronica Smith | Sunday, June 27, 2010
Chelsea Barracks: The Deal-maker

THE GUARDIAN: Amanda Staveley is best known for orchestrating Abu Dhabi's and Qatar's eye-catching £7.3bn investment in Barclays in 2008

Amanda Staveley takes her seat at a football match. Photograph: The Guardian

Amanda Staveley, broker to the sheikhs, has pulled off another high-profile property deal for the emirate of Qatar, which is continuing its aggressive buying spree in London.

Staveley advised the Qatari property company Barwa Real Estate on the £250m acquisition of the Park House site in Oxford Street - the biggest development in the area since the Second World War - from the developer, Land Securities.

Staveley is best known for orchestrating Abu Dhabi's and Qatar's eye-catching £7.3bn investment in Barclays in 2008, followed a few months later by the takeover of Manchester City Football Club by Abu Dhabi's ruling family. The 37-year-old former athlete and model reportedly pocketed £5m to £7.5m in fees from the latest deal.

The news came as it emerged that the Qatar Investment Authority, the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, was in talks to take a third share in the Savoy hotel in London. The 120-year-old hotel is owned under a 50-50 joint venture by HBOS and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal's Kingdom Holding. It is due to reopen in October after a refurbishment that has taken 18 months longer than expected and is likely to cost more than twice the originally budgeted £100m. The hotel comes with a big debt burden – its 2008 accounts showed loans of $212m and that figure is likely to be higher now.

Another part of the QIA, Qatar Holding, is said to have joined the bidding war for Grosvenor House, the five-star hotel put up for sale by Royal Bank of Scotland at the start of the year. The hotel, on Park Lane in Mayfair, has attracted interest from a handful of bidders, including the Abu Dhabi and Singapore sovereign wealth funds. The sale is expected to raise at least £500m. >>> Julia Kollewe | Thursday, June 17, 2010

Related articles here
Don’t be fooled by the sweet, demure looks! Isn’t this the face of a ruthless businesswoman, willing to sell off Britain’s assets to the rich Arabs and line her own pockets in the process?

Amanda Staveley Finds that Islam Moves Closer to Her Heart

THE TELEGRAPH: Amanda Staveley, the former girlfriend of the Duke of York, talks about falling in love with a Muslim.

Amanda Staveley has helped bring some of the Islamic world's biggest financial investments to this country. The 36-year-old Yorkshirewoman has now received an offer closer to her heart.

"My boyfriend is Muslim," disclosed Staveley, who was once predicted to become the Duke of York's second wife.

The former Businesswoman of the Year said on Friday that she was attracted to the Muslim faith. "I believe in monotheism," she said. "Whether it is Judaism, Islam, Christianity, there are more similarities than there are differences, but I am drawn to Islam."

Staveley did not disclose the name of her boyfriend, but said he had not encouraged her to join his faith. "I don't think he would ask me to convert," she said. >>> Tim Walker. Edited by Richard Eden | Saturday, June 26, 2010

Qataris Target Another Landmark Asset as Their Super-broker Amanda Staveley Pockets £5m

Prime position: the Park House site in Oxford Street. Photo: London Evening Standard

LONDON EVENING STANDARD: The Qatari ruling family are poised to add to their already bulging portfolio of trophy London assets with a bid for a third ownership of the Savoy.

The Qatar Investment Authority, which owns Harrods, the US Embassy Building in Mayfair and Chelsea Barracks, as well as big stakes in Barclays, Sainsbury's and the London Stock Exchange, is understood to be in talks about an offer for the Grosvenor House hotel.

The move comes as Amanda Staveley, deal broker to the Arabs and ex-girlfriend of Prince Andrew, pocketed a multi-million-pound windfall for orchestrating yet another Qatari purchase of a prime West End development site.

The former model advised Qatari property investment company Barwa to buy the Park House site in Oxford Street from Land Securities for
£250 million.

It is thought the deal earned the
37-year-old and her Mayfair advisory firm PCP Capital Partners in the region of £5 million to £7.5 million in fees.

The discussions on the Savoy are said to involve Qatari Diar, the QIA's property investment arm, taking a stake in the Savoy of up to 33 per cent, with the two current joint owners, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and HBOS, trimming their holdings. >>> Jonathan Prynn and Hugo Duncan | Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amanda Staveley

Amanda Staveley is a highly successful businesswoman. Born in Doncaster, Staveley was a good childhood athlete in show jumping and sprinting (at 14 years old, Staveley ran 100 metres in 12.6 seconds) but was eventually hindered by an injury to her achilles tendon. Accepted to St Catherine’s College at Cambridge to study modern languages, she supplemented her student grant with work as a model, but dropped out after being hospitalised with stress. Staveley then opened a restaurant, through which she became acquainted with the Maktoums, family of the ruler of Dubai, but built her name as a businesswoman through successful investments in starting companies and trading of stocks. Staveley made £40million in commission driving a deal between Barclays Bank and Gulf sheiks. In 2008, Staveley brokered the takeover of Manchester City FC by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. [Source: This Is London]

Friday, 25 June 2010

Gouvernance : Le sommet de Toronto coûtera jusqu’à 1,2 milliard

Photo : Le Temps

LE TEMPS: Précédé par le G8, le G20 commence ce samedi. Les Européens font pression pour une taxe bancaire

La ville est déjà morte. Malgré la température estivale, Toronto semble désertée par ses habitants. La presse canadienne l’explique par le périmètre de sécurité dressé autour de l’Exhibition Center, au bord du lac Ontario, qui accueille dès ce soir la quatrième réunion du G20. De multiples restrictions de circulation paralysent une partie du centre ville. Des commerçants, qui redoutent aussi les manifestations, chiffrent déjà la perte à quelque 15% de leur chiffre d’affaires mensuel. «Moi, j’ai loué toutes mes chambres, alors j’aimerais un G20 tous les week-ends!», plaisante un hôtelier interrogé par Le Temps. >>> Frédéric Lelièvre, Toronto | Vendredi 25 Juin 2010
Liliane Bettencourt admet détenir 78 millions d'euros en Suisse

Liliane Bettencourt va déclarer au fisc des avoirs expatriés pour un montant global de 78 millions d'euros. Photo : Le Point

LE POINT: Liliane Bettencourt va déclarer au fisc des avoirs expatriés pour un montant global de 78 millions d'euros, répartis entre deux comptes bancaires détenus en Suisse. Cette initiative, annoncée cette semaine par la milliardaire à la suite de la révélation - par le site Mediapart et Le Point - des enregistrements de son maître d'hôtel, devrait se solder par le paiement d'un impôt forfaitaire dont le montant est encore inconnu. >>> Par Hervé Gattegno | Vendredi 25 Juin 2010
Islands Up for Grabs in Debt-laden Greece's Firesale

Santorini ... payback time after spending binge. Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: LONDON: There's little that shouts ''seriously rich'' as much as a little island in the sun to call your own.

For Sir Richard Branson it is Neckar in the Caribbean, the billionaire Barclay brothers prefer Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, while Aristotle Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on Skorpios, his Greek hideaway.

Now Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfil their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6000 sun-kissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.

It has emerged that an area on Mykonos, one of Greece's key tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale.

The island is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer to develop a luxury tourism complex.

Chinese and Russian investors are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. The Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is among those said to be interested, although he denied this.

Greece embarked on the desperate act after being pushed into a €110 billion ($156 billion) bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund last month, following decades of overspending and after jittery investors raised borrowing costs to unbearable levels. The sale of an island - or convincing a member of the international executive jet-set to take on a long-term lease - would help to boost its coffers.

The Private Islands website also lists Nafsika, in the Ionian sea, which is on the market for €15 million. >>> Guardian News & Media | Saturday, June 26, 2010
Cameron Risks Conflict with US Over Pace of Spending Cuts

David Cameron arrives in Toronto where he will attend the G8 and G20 summits. Photo: The Times

THE TIMES: David Cameron will risk a trans-Atlantic rift over his Budget today by insisting that Britain is right to slash spending despite American warnings that deep cuts could derail the global recovery.

Tim Geithner, President Obama’s Treasury Secretary, said it was paramount for European leaders to concentrate on growth, and that they could not rely on America to drive the recovery.

His comments reflect concern in Washington that European governments - Germany in particular - have cut their budgets too hard and too fast, and that the risk to growth could drag the world economy back towards recession.

Mr Cameron, who holds face-to-face talks with Mr Obama tomorrow in Toronto, will insist that he had no choice because the Greek crisis showed the dangers to governments of failing to deal with vast debts.

“For countries with big fiscal deficits, that path to recovery requires us to deal decisively with the deficit problem,” said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.

“It is perfectly consistent to have strong position on fiscal consolidation and be pro growth.” Read on and comment >>> Roland Watson, Toronto | Friday, June 25, 2010
This Profligate President! Barack Obama Is Refusing to Listen to Reason on Economic Policy

THE TELEGRAPH: President Barack Obama could learn from the old-fashioned German habit of saving money before spending it, argues Jeremy Warner.

Barack Obama will meet other world leaders at the G20 summit. Photo: The Telegraph

Rarely has the dismal science of economics inflamed such passions. While the "cuts versus growth" debate has been building steadily for more than a year on both sides of the Atlantic, over the past week it has exploded into open international hostilities.

A compromised form of words will already have been agreed for the communiqué to follow this weekend's meeting of G8 and G20 leaders; the sherpas who do the preparatory donkey work for these stage-managed events will have ensured it.

But behind the anodyne platitudes of any statement, the tensions have reached fever pitch. Gone is the co-operative consensus that, in adversity 18 months ago, brought G20 nations together to fight the downturn.

In its place lies a clear line of demarcation that almost exactly mirrors our own political debate in Britain over the economic consequences of George Osborne's Emergency Budget cuts. Yet though this debate masquerades as high intellect, it has about as much to do with economics as the outcome of the World Cup.

President Barack Obama, backed to some extent by Nicolas Sarkozy of France, wants economic stimulus to continue until the global recovery is unambiguously secure. In the opposite corner is Germany's Angela Merkel, now oddly aligned with Britain's new political leadership in thinking the time is right for fiscal austerity.

Like much of what Mr Obama says and does these days, the US position is cynically political. With mid-term elections looming and the Democrats down in the polls, the administration hasn't yet even begun to think about deficit reduction. Obama is much more worried by the possibility of a double-dip recession and the damage this would do to his chances of a second term, than the state of the public finances.

As it happens, the public debt trajectory is rather worse in the US than it is in Europe, yet Obama has adopted an overtly "spend until we are broke" approach in a calculated bid for growth and votes. Read on and comment >>> Jeremy Warner | Thursday, June 24, 2010

Obamonomics: A Definition >>> Mark Alexander | Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Australia’s First Woman Prime Minister Sworn In

Julia Gillard became Prime Minister of Australia after a leadership balllot at Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: The Times

THE TIMES: Australia’s new Prime Minister has been sworn into office and immediately vowed to end division over a controversial mining tax, resurrect a carbon trade scheme and call an election within months.

The British-born Julia Gillard said that she was “truly honoured” to become the country’s first woman Prime Minister after a surprise coup among the Labor leadership resulted in Kevin Rudd, whose popularity was in terminal decline, stepping aside overnight.

Within hours of being elected leader of the Australian Labor Party after the shock caucus meeting in Canberra early this morning, Ms Gillard was sworn in as the country’s 27th Prime Minister and immediately set her agenda for the coming months.

“I asked my colleagues to make a leadership change because I believed that a good Government was losing its way,” Ms Gillard said of the tumultuous turn of events.

“I love this country and I was not going to sit idly by and watch an incoming Opposition cut health, cut education and smash rights at work.”

Ms Gillard promised to lead a “strong and responsible government that will take control of our future, improving and protecting the essential public services and basic rights our people depend on”. Read on and comment >>> Sophie Tedmanson, Sydney | Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rudd Quits To Give Australia First Woman PM

SKY NEWS: Kevin Rudd has stepped down as Australian prime minister, allowing his deputy Julia Gillard to become the country's first female leader. Sky's Ian Woods reports.

Related: Kevin Rudd Gets Dumped >>>
Kevin Rudd Dumped as Julia Gillard Becomes Australian Prime Minister

THE TELEGRAPH: Australia has its first female prime minister after Kevin Rudd stood down on Thursday, handing the leadership to his deputy Julia Gillard.

Mr Rudd was convinced to step aside after it became obvious during an emergency caucus meeting that he did not have the support of enough MPs to continue serving as prime minister.

The British-born Ms Gillard was reportedly backed by at least 75 of the Labour Party's 115 MPs, sending a clear and emphatic message to Mr Rudd that it was time to go.

The threat to Mr Rudd's leadership emerged on Wednesday night, after senior Labour powerbrokers told him that he had lost their support and Ms Gillard revealed that she would challenge him.

The prime minister was urged to step down, but a defiant Mr Rudd announced that he would go to a vote.

After a night of frantic phonecalls to gauge support, Mr Rudd decided not to stand against Ms Gillard, handing her the prime ministership unopposed. >>> Bonnie Malkin in Sydney | Thursday, June 24, 2010

Related article here
Greedy Bankers Make Sure You’ll Have to Slog Away Till You’re Seventy Plus (But Bankers Will Probably Be Exempted from the Work-longer Scheme)

THE TELEGRAPH: Millions of employees who are not saving for their retirement will be enrolled in company schemes under a radical shake-up of pensions which eventually could see most people working into their seventies.

In a landmark announcement intended to herald a new era of shorter but wealthier retirements, the Government will encourage people to work for longer by making it illegal for companies to force staff to give up work at 65.

At the same time, the age at which employees can claim the state pension will rise to 66 as soon as 2016 for men — 10 years earlier than the last government had decreed.

The Coalition is to consult on the most appropriate pace at which to increase the retirement age even higher in line with rising life expectancy.

The outcome is likely to be that, by the second half of the century, most people will work into their seventies.

In return, workers would receive more generous state pensions boosted by membership of company schemes, into which employees will be enrolled unless they opt out. Those reliant on state pensions will benefit from the restored link between pensions and earnings announced in this week’s Budget. Pensions shake-up could see most people working into their seventies >>> Andrew Porter and Rosa Prince | Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

New York Hikes Cigarette Tax Again

Analysis: VAT and Cuts Spell Trouble for Clegg

THE TIMES: Ministers from both sides of the coalition were quick to talk up the Lib Dem Budget wins, including the £1,000 increase in the starting rate of income tax and the £150 one-off payment for poor families.

But the Lib Dems could be forgiven for a tinge of self loathing every time this is described as a “progressive” budget, as they weigh the concessions made to them against the package of horrors they must now defend.

The pictures of Nick Clegg standing in front of the anti-Tory “VAT bombshell” posters last night were gruesome enough. The Treasury graphs showing the increased burden felt by the poorest in society are even worse.

But the real challenge for the Deputy Prime Minister, and Danny Alexander, the hastily appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is that a sizeable number of Lib Dems disagree with the single biggest decision underpinning yesterday’s statement - the scale and speed of the cuts.

George Osborne revealed yesterday he wants to extinguish the structural deficit and be in surplus by the end of the Parliament with a combination of £8billion tax rises, £32billion spending cuts and £11billion welfare cuts by 2014.

The Chancellor called this “unavoidable” action needed to calm the market. But Lib Dems - and some in the markets - dispute this. The markets worry the scale of the action make tip Britain back into recession. Lib Dems point out many other countries maintain their AAA rating without paying off “every last penny” of the structural debt - money which could go to help the most vulnerable in society. Read on and comment >>> Analysis, Sam Coates, Chief Political Correspondent | Wednesday, June 2010

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Budget 2010: VAT Rise and Benefits Cuts to Tackle Britain's Deficit

THE TELEGRAPH: VAT will rise and benefits will be cut to wipe out Britain’s budget deficit within five years, George Osborne has announced.

The Chancellor used his emergency Budget to announce that VAT will rise from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent from January 4.

He will also cut £11 billion a year from benefits and welfare payments.

High-earners will be hard hit by the measures. Anyone earning more than £49,700 a year will be almost £1,600 a year worse off, Treasury figures indicated.

The average earner will be £400 a year worse off.

Mr Osborne said the wide range of cuts and tax rises were needed to pay off the deficits Labour ran up.

“This is the unavoidable Budget,” he said.

“It is tough but it is fair. I am not going to hide hard choices from the British people.

He added: “Today, we take decisive action to deal with the debts we have inherited.”

He insisted that all income groups will share in the pain to come. “When we say we are all in this together, we mean it,” he said. >>> James Kirkup, Political Correspondent | Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Umfrage: Europäer sehen sich von wachsender Armut umgeben

WELT ONLINE: Viele EU-Bürger glauben, dass in ihrem jeweiligen Land die Armut zugenommen hat. Vor allem Griechen und Franzosen sehen ihre Heimat verarmen.

Armut in Deutschland: Ein Mann sucht in einem Abfalleimer in Köln nach Verwertbarem. Foto: Welt Online

Immer mehr Europäer glauben, in ihrem Land habe die Armut in den vergangenen zwölf Monaten zugenommen. Wie EU-Sozialkommissar Laszlo Andor in Brüssel unter Berufung auf eine neue Eurobarometer-Umfrage mitteilte, sind bei Griechen, Franzosen und Bulgaren sogar mehr als vier Fünftel der Befragten dieser Auffassung.

In Deutschland gaben 57 Prozent der Befragten an, die Armut habe zugenommen. Das sind etwas weniger als im EU-Schnitt von 60 Prozent. Andor sagte, Armut stelle in der EU ein großes Problem dar. Die gegenwärtige wirtschaftliche und finanzielle Lage verschärfe die Situation. >>> KNA/cn | Dienstag, 22. Juni 2010
Weißrussland stoppt Gastransit in den Westen

WELT ONLINE: Der Gasstreit eskaliert: Weißrussland will die für Westeuropa wichtigen Transitleitungen für russisches Gas abdrehen.

Weißrussland dreht die Gaspipeline in den Westen zu. Bild: Welt Online

Im Gasstreit mit Russland hat die weißrussische Regierung angeordnet, den Transit von Gas nach Europa zu stoppen. Der autoritäre weißrussische Präsident Alexander Lukaschenko habe die Sperrung der Pipelines verfügt, meldete die Agentur Interfax aus der weißrussischen Hauptstadt Minsk.

Der russische Staatskonzern Gazprom schulde Weißrussland 260 Millionen US-Dollar (rund 212 Millionen Euro) für das Durchleiten von Gas nach Westen, sagte Lukaschenko. Von der Blockade wäre besonders das EU-Mitglied Litauen betroffen, da das baltische Land zu 100 Prozent über diesen Weg versorgt wird. >>> dpa/AFP/dma | Dienstag, 22. Juni 2010
Emergency Budget 2010: Osborne Promises to Balance Books in Five Years

George Osborne holds Gladstone's original budget box as he leaves 11 Downing Street for Parliament today. Photo: The Independent

THE INDEPENDENT: A stern-faced Chancellor George Osborne delivered his "tough but fair" emergency Budget plans to Parliament, promising to balance Britain's books within five years.

In a statement issued after briefing Cabinet colleagues, Mr Osborne said the Budget aimed to protect children and pensioners and ensure the richest bear the largest share of the burden.

He then posed briefly on the steps of 11 Downing Street, flanked by his equally grim-faced Treasury team, before heading to the House of Commons to unveil his plans.

In his statement, Mr Osborne said: "My Budget is tough but it is fair. This is an unavoidable Budget because of the mess we have to clear up. So the coalition Government will take responsibility for balancing Britain's books within five years.

"We are going to do this fairly, protecting children and pensioners and ensuring the richest contribute the most. And it means getting enterprise going, because it is business, not Government, that will create the jobs of the future." >>> Press Association | Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Toshiba Launches Dual Touch-screen Laptop

THE TELEGRAPH: Toshiba's Libretto W100 multimedia internet device features two touch-screens.

Toshiba's new dual touch-screen laptop, the Libretto W100. Photo: The Telegraph

Toshiba has unveiled a new dual-screen, touch-screen mini laptop designed for surfing the internet, sending and receiving emails and keeping up to speed with social networking sites on the move.

The Libretto W100 runs Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, and has two 7in, LED-backlit touch-screens. Toshiba says its compact size and clamshell form factor provides "unrivalled flexibility".

"One screen can be used for content creation, like Word documents or emails, while the other could be used to browse the web, social networks or multimedia programmes," said Toshiba, the company that invented the laptop 25 years ago. "Additionally, the device can also be used vertically thanks to an integrated accelerometer." >>> Claudine Beaumont, Technology editor | Monday, June 21, 2010
Coalition Warns of ‘Hardest’ Budget

George Osborne will try to distinguish his measures from anything that Labour could portray as a Thatcherite attack on the poor. Photo: The Times

THE TIMES: George Osborne will claim today that the harshest Budget for 30 years will squeeze the rich more than it hits the poor. The Chancellor will seek to sell his package of record spending cuts and tax rises as being stamped by fairness as he tries to win public support for a four-year austerity drive.

Nick Clegg moved to pre-empt any revolt by Liberal Democrats last night by insisting that his party’s values were at the heart of Mr Osborne’s assault on the deficit. “This is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do,” he wrote in an e-mail to party members, an acknowledgement that the pain to come will put the coalition under immense strain.

Mr Osborne’s Budget statement is a watershed moment, when households learn how much they will have to suffer to help to pay off the country’s debts. Read on and comment >>> Roland Watson, Political Editor | Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, 21 June 2010

Smoking Bans and Economics Hit Famed Cuban Cigars

REUTERS: Production of finest tobacco leaf down 14 percent / Cigar production, export earnings off sharply / Industry draws on inventory

HAVANA - Global economic woes and the worldwide spread of smoking bans are taking their toll on Cuba's famous cigar industry, with the just-completed harvest of the country's finest tobacco down 14 percent over 2009, local media said on Monday.

In westernmost Pinar del Rio, home of Cuba's most famous tobacco, the harvest came in at 22.4 million leaves, down from 26 million in 2009, according to Guerrillero, the province's Communist party weekly.

The area's tobacco is used as wrapper leaf and part of the filling in Cuba's prized cigar brands, including Cohiba, Montecristo, Trinidad and Partagas.

"There was a reduction in planting due to limitations in resources caused by the economic crisis," the weekly said.

Cuba's premium cigars dominate the world market with 70 percent of sales. >>> Marc Frank; Editing: Jeff Franks and Will Dunham | Monday, June 21, 2010
Chinese Central Bank Set to Allow Yuan to Rise

A bank clerk stacks up renminbi banknotes. Photo: The Times

THE TIMES: China signalled on Saturday it was ready to allow its currency to resume its rise, ending a 23-month-long peg to the US dollar and stifling critics who claim the country’s exports have benefited from the state-engineered weakness of the renminbi.

In a carefully worded statement, deliberately issued on a weekend evening when global markets were closed, the People’s Bank of China indicated that it was ready to allow its currency to resume its natural rise.

It said: “The global economy is gradually recovering. The recovery and upturn of the Chinese economy has become more solid with enhanced economic stability.”

The typically opaque statement, released just days before the G20 summit in Canada, continued: “It is desirable to proceed further with reform of renminbi exchange rate regime and increase the renminbi exchange rate flexibility.”

Among the most remarkable aspects of the statement was its lack of detail. China is anxious to avoid being seen as bowing to pressure from the United States, especially as members of Congress have heightened their criticism of what they say is Beijing’s manipulation of its currency. >>> Jane Macartney, Beijing | Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Spending Fiesta Is Over for Spain

THE SUNDAY TIMES: The country threatens Europe with a new debt crisis as its once vibrant economy falters, inflicting a painful human toll

Job losses has already provoked protests and is likely to worsen. Photo: The Sunday Times

Each day Joaquim Vizcaino, a 26-year-old Madrid University graduate, goes on the internet to look for a job. In the past six months he has had only one day’s work, as a driver, and he is getting desperate.

His girlfriend Letizia pays the £600-a-month rent on their two-room flat in the sprawling suburbs of Madrid and has supported him since he lost a job in marketing. Now she is beginning to lose patience.

“She keeps on telling me to go out and get a job,” he said with a grin as he drove her car to a doctor’s surgery on Friday for blood tests to find out why he has been losing weight. It might be stress: “I can’t even get a job as a waiter.”

Spain’s 20% unemployment — it is double that among the 16 to 25-year-olds — is surpassed in Europe only by Lithuania’s and is inflicting a painful human toll on what was once called the “Iberian tiger”, one of the most vibrant and dynamic countries of the European Union.

“For many years we lived extremely well,” said Ramon Tamames, a distinguished professor of economics at Madrid University, referring to a decade of extraordinary growth fuelled by low-cost loans from Europe.

“They were some of the best years in Spain’s history,” he added. “Now the party is over.” Read on and comment >>> Matthew Campbell | Sunday, June 20, 2010

Related / Lien en relation avec l’article ici

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Reichste Frau Europas will ihre Tochter klagen

KRONEN ZEITUNG: Die 87 Jahre alte L'Oréal-Hauptaktionärin Liliane Bettencourt geht im Familienstreit um ihre angebliche Unzurechnungs-fähigkeit in die Offensive. Die reichste Frau Europas will nun ihre einzige Tochter Françoise klagen. Diese soll hinter einer illegalen Abhöraktion gegen ihre Mutter stecken.

Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers wirft ihrer Mutter hingegen vor, nicht ganz bei Sinnen zu sein und mit Geld um sich zu werfen. Allein der mit ihr befreundete Fotograf François-Marie Banier erhielt Geschenke im Wert von 993 Millionen Euro.

Vor einigen Tagen war bekannt geworden, dass ein Hausangestellter über Monate hinweg mit einem Diktiergerät die Privatgespräche der alten Dame belauscht hat. Die Aufzeichnungen ließ er der Tochter zukommen. Diese will sie als Beweis für die Unzurechnungsfähigkeit ihrer Mutter verwenden. >>> | Samstag, 19. Juni 2010

Verbunden mit diesem Artikel / Liens en relation avec l’article / Related articles hier/ici/here
Germany and France Examine 'Two-tier' Euro

THE TELEGRAPH: Germany and France are examining ways of creating a "two-tier" euro system to separate stronger northern European countries from weaker southern states.

A European official has told The Daily Telegraph the dramatic option was being examined at cabinet level.

Senior politicians believe their economies need to be better protected as they could not cope with another crisis on a par [with] the one in Greece.

The creation of a "super-euro" zone would initially include France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Denmark and Finland.

The likes of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and even Ireland would be left in a larger rump mostly Mediterranean grouping.

The official said French and German officials had first spent months examining how to exclude poor-performing states from the euro but decided it was not feasible.

A two-tier monetary system in the 16-member euro zone is being examined as a "plan B".

"The philosophy is the stronger countries might need to move away from countries they can't afford to bail-out," said the official. "As a way of containing the damage, they may have to do something dramatic, though obviously in the short term implementation is difficult.

"It's an act of desperation. They are not talking about ideal solutions but the lesser of evils. Helping Greece could be done relatively cheaply but Spain they can't afford to let fail or bail-out.

"And putting more pressure on the people of France and Germany to save other countries is politically unfeasible." >>> Alex Spillius in Washington and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels | Saturday, June 19, 2010
'Reckless' BP Blamed by Partner for Oil Spill

THE TELEGRAPH: Oil giant BP came under further pressure on Saturday after one of its partners said the company's "gross negligence or wilful misconduct" were to blame for the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anadarko Petroleum, which owns a quarter of the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well, has refused to accept any blame for the explosion that killed 11 workers and sparked America's worst environmental disaster.

The company's chairman and chief executive Jim Hackett insisted in a statement that BP should foot the entire bill for the environmental and economic damage caused by the blow out.

Mr Hackett said: "Frankly, we are shocked. BP's behaviour and actions likely represent gross negligence or wilful misconduct."

He said that "mounting evidence clearly demonstrates" that the disaster that led to the explosion and sinking of a drilling rig and the deaths of 11 workers "was preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions." >>> Patrick Sawer | Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, 18 June 2010

Strauss-Kahn "très confiant" pour l'économie de l'Espagne à moyen terme

Dominique Strauss-Kahn et le premier ministre espagnol José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero lors d'une conférence de presse, vendredi 18 juin. Photo : Le Monde

LE MONDE: Le directeur général du Fonds monétaire international (FMI) Dominique Strauss-Kahn s'est déclaré vendredi "très confiant" dans les perspectives de l'économie espagnole à "moyen-long terme", après un entretien à Madrid avec José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn a estimé que l'Espagne se redresserait "à condition que les efforts qui doivent être faits soient faits". "Ce que je vois aujourd'hui, c'est que ces efforts sont en cours", a-t-il ajouté à propos des mesures de réduction des déficits publics et réformes structurelles annoncées par le gouvernement espagnol. >>> | Vendredi 18 Juin 2010
G-20-Länder: Obama warnt vor zu raschem Sparkurs

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Post vom amerikanischen Präsidenten: Barack Obama hat in einem Brief die Regierungschefs anderen großen Industrienationen vor übertriebenen Sparmaßnahmen gewarnt. Die Kürzung öffentlicher Ausgaben könne die Erholung der Weltwirtschaft erheblich gefährden. Deutsche Ökonomen reagierten skeptisch auf die Vorwürfe.

Der amerikanische Präsident Barack Obama hat die großen Industrie- und Schwellenländer davor gewarnt, die Erholung der Weltwirtschaft durch übereilte Sparmaßnahmen zu gefährden. Mittelfristig müssten die Schuldenquoten stabilisiert werden. Man dürfe jedoch nicht „die Fehler der Vergangenheit wiederholen, als der Konjunkturstimulus zu früh zurückgezogen wurde, was neue wirtschaftliche Not und Rezession zur Folge hatte“, schrieb Obama in einem Brief an die Staats- und Regierungschefs der zwanzig wichtigsten Volkswirtschaften (G 20).

Damit deuten sich gut eine Woche vor dem G-20-Gipfeltreffen im kanadischen Toronto transatlantische Differenzen über die Fiskalpolitik an. In Europa hat Deutschland als erstes großes Land ein Sparpaket vorgelegt, das den Abbau der Defizite um 80 Milliarden Euro in den kommenden vier Jahren vorsieht. >>> Von Philip Plickert | Freitag, 18. Juni 2010
Electric Car's Role in America's Energy Future