Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Gold Crash: What Could Trigger the Inevitable

REUTERS REUTERS WEALTH – BLOG: Before you sell that last piece of jewelry, keep in mind that the gold price will not go up indefinitely. There are number of reasons why it might crash.

If you’re overweighted in gold or commodities, the warning is the same: A stronger dollar, strengthening U.S. economy or rising interest rates could derail the epic yellow metal mania. Who knows? Congress could even reach an agreement to clear up its balance sheet and pay down its debt.

What are the chances of any of this happening? It’s beyond the limits of my minuscule, clouded crystal ball, which is about the size of a pinhead. Nevertheless, you should prepare your portfolio for any number of eventualities, which can be easily accomplished with exchange-traded funds.

Gold is troublesome in my book because it really isn’t an investment. It’s a reserve currency of sorts that’s heavily traded by institutional investors. It doesn’t pay any dividends or interest and is bought in times of widespread fear.

The savviest traders buy gold as a hedge against the dollar. In the past few years, it’s also been a bulwark against the Euro as well, which has been bruised by sovereign debt woes in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Is the Euro financial fizzle over? I don’t think so, but it’s still not a reason to load up on gold. Read on and comment » Posted by Cautious123 | Monday, May 30, 2011

Friday, 27 May 2011

Inside Story - Who Will Come Out On Top at the E-G8?

World leaders are meeting in France this week for the G8 summit. The Arab Awakening is set to be top of the agenda, but the innovations that helped to mobilise that awakening will also be discussed. Mark Zuckerburg, the Facebook CEO, was welcomed to Paris by Nicolas Zarkozy [sic], the French president. Zuckerburg was in France with other web and media executives for the first ever so-called E-G8 summit - a discussion on internet governance. It is a nod to the ever-growing power of the internet. But some of the biggest names in the online industry have offered a stark warning to world leaders: Over-regulate and we will bypass you. Inside Story asks what impact this meeting will have and who will come out on top.

Lessons in Winning a Billionaire's Heart

A Chinese school teaches girls the skills to win the hearts of wealthy men

Price of Coffee Set to Rise

Coffee sellers worldwide are raising their prices as some high quality coffees are being produced at their lowest rate in fifty years.

International giant Starbucks will see a 17 percent price hike in bagged coffee starting in mid-July, and their rise seems to be representative across the board.

But similarly to the raising price of oil, coffee drinkers are expected to keep on consuming, regardless of the hikes.

Al Jazeera's Caroline Malone reports.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Greece Risks 'Return to Drachma'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Greece will have to ditch the euro unless it agrees tougher austerity measures, said a senior Greek official, delivering the strongest warning yet from a European insider as to what is at stake.

Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for fisheries, and who was appointed by Greece's ruling socialists, said her country faces having to exit the currency unless warring parties can agree to makes the sacrifices needed to resolve its debt crisis.

The Greek government strongly denied previous rumours that Athens was considering leaving the eurozone, but Ms Damanaki said the situation's gravity had forced her to "speak openly" about the dilemma facing her country. » | Emma Rowley | Wednesday, May 25, 2011
It's Ever More Obvious, Greece Must Leave the Euro

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: I've hardly been alone, but that's no excuse. For more than a year now, I've been regularly predicting the euro crisis's final denouement, yet still it hasn't arrived.

So I've been forced to reach a different conclusion; perhaps it never will. Instead, the eurozone has entered a seeming state of permanent crisis. In desperation, European policymakers have adopted a very British characteristic – the hope that they can somehow just muddle through.

But though no one can know the exact timing of the endgame – that's ultimately for the politicians to decide, so no time soon might be a reasonable bet – it's now fairly clear what that endgame must be.

What's presently being played out among the GIPS (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) is final proof that you cannot have a monetary union of such size among sovereign nations without compensating fiscal union. That simple underlying truth leaves the euro facing a choice between two equally unappetising outcomes.

Either the richer countries carry on bailing out the poorer ones more or less indefinitely, rather in the manner that Germany subsidises its formerly communist East, or membership of the euro has to be reconstituted on a smaller and more sustainable basis. There's really nothing in between. The longer European policymakers remain in denial about this choice, the worse the situation will become.

So it's with a sense of weary familiarity we approach the latest impasse. The European Central Bank is implacably opposed to debt restructuring, but the eurozone's solvent Northern states have reached the limit of their appetite for further bail-outs. This leaves Greece in an impossible position; it can neither reduce its debt burden through restructuring, nor will anyone lend it more money. » | Jeremy Warner, Assistant Editor | Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My comment:

The euro project has been mishandled from day one. It was clear to me from the very beginning that countries should have unified their currencies one by one, and slowly, allowing ample time for consolidation. To give you an example: Germany and Austria and France could have come together in the first stage. At least five years should then have been allowed for observation and tweaking. That would also have given these countries time to consolidate the colossal changes they had embarked upon.

When they were sure of their ground, the next economically strong country could have joined in, but after that move, another five or so years should have been allowed for consolidation. And so on and so forth.

But there is one very important point that the Europeans seem to have forgotten in all this: to have a unified currency, there should be one, unified government. To bring in weaker countries such as Portugal and Greece, there would have had to be regional economic policies to try and iron out the large differences in their economic circumstances. But one very big question remains: Can we truly expect the Greeks ever to compete with the Germans? The Germans are a particularly industrious people. They are also northern Europeans. The climate in northern Europe is far, far more conducive to hard work than is the climate of countries in the hot Med. – © Mark

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Merkel sagt arabischen Reformstaaten Hilfe zu

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE: In einer Regierungserklärung zum G-8-Gipfel im französischen Deauville sagt Bundeskanzlerin Merkel Ländern wie Ägypten und Tunesien Unterstützung zu. Für SPD-Fraktionschef Steinmeier fehlen der Regierung eigene Antworten auf die „Arabellion“.

Angesichts der politischen Umwälzungen in Nordafrika hat Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) den Ländern konkrete und schnelle Hilfe versprochen und einen Schuldenverzicht angekündigt. Die ersten politischen Erfolge dürften nicht durch wirtschaftliche Instabilität gefährdet werden, sagte die Kanzlerin am Donnerstag in einer Regierungserklärung im Bundestag zum G-8-Gipfel im französischen Deauville.

Die Hilfe solle schnell in Gang kommen, „denn Zeit zählt in dieser Region“. Merkel nannte es eine „historische europäische Verpflichtung“, den Menschen, die in Nordafrika und Teilen der arabischen Welt für Freiheit und Menschenrechte auf die Straße gehen, zur Seite zu stehen. Die Entwicklungen seien für alle „eine historische Chance“. In Deauville solle auch darüber gesprochen werden, wie zusammen mit den internationalen Finanzinstitutionen ein „bedeutendes Maßnahmenpaket“ geschnürt werden könne. » | FAZ.NET mit dpa/AFP | Donnerstag, 26. Mai 2011

Merkel will nordafrikanische Länder unterstützen

Griechenland: Tausende demonstrieren gegen Sparkurs

Frankreich wird zum Schauplatz der Mächtigen

“I Can See Another Financial Bomb Going Off”

NEW STATESMAN: Once a self-styled free radical, Vince Cable is now grappling with the compromises of power. Here he talks about the ferocity of the press, his pact with George Osborne and why he doesn’t feel sorry for Nick Clegg

Consensus is growing that interest rates have been kept too low for too long and that inflation, which stands at 4.5 per cent, is accelerating dangerously, just as inequality deepens, growth flatlines and incomes decline. Worse still, as we enter the age of austerity, is that near-zero interest rates are artificially supporting an already unstable housing market. Spencer Dale, chief economist at the Bank of England and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), has spoken of the immediate need to raise the Bank's base rate and then to keep nudging it upwards. "I don't take lightly the impact this could have on some families," he said in an interview with the Financial Times on 21 May. "But I think the cost to our economy as a whole - were inflation to persist for longer and our credibility [to] start to be eroded - would be even worse."

The coalition government's "emergency" def¬icit reduction programme is based on one fundamental principle: when fiscal policy is so tight, monetary policy needs to remain as loose as possible. It's often said that, because of the rapidity and harshness of the cuts in public spending as well as the absence of growth in the UK economy, the government needs greater flexibility. It needs to be less rigid and more pragmatic. It needs a plan B, dare I use the cliché.

In one sense, it already has a plan B (abnormally low interest rates and the option of more quantitative easing). What it might soon need, especially if the MPC votes to raise interest rates, is a plan C (which would mean slower cuts and the kind of humiliating policy reversal that the Chancellor, George Osborne, would never sanction).

I put this to the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, when we meet on a bright, breezy afternoon at his office, with its high windows and fine views of Westminster Abbey. Reclining in a large, soft chair and sipping from a mug of tea, Cable, who has shrewd eyes and a rumpled charm, is quick to point out that the greater danger is not inflation, but deflation.

He cites the long deflationary slump that followed the financial crisis in Japan at the beginning of the 1990s as a warning of what might lie ahead for Britain. » | Jason Cowley | Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"I think the thing that worries me more than anything else [is that] we really haven't engaged with the real depths and seriousness of the financial crash. I was very impressed with that Warren Buffett metaphor that asset-backed mortgage lending was the atomic bomb, and that there are hydrogen bombs out there. I just don't think that collectively governments have got to grips with this at all." So another huge bomb could go off, sooner rather than later? "It's not imminent. But you can see this happening." – Dr. Vince Cable

NEW STATESMAN: The Vince Cable Interview »

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Strauss-Kahn and the End of Bailouts

The take down of Dominique Strauss-Kahn from the chief of the IMF has ushered in a period of incredible political change, beginning with the halting of an international bailout process that had begun to set off a hyperinflationary bomb world wide. But the question is, what changes will follow?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Harrods Sells Superyachts

May 20 - British store Harrods is selling its most expensive ever product, a superyacht costing over 100 million pounds from London yacht brokers and managers Watkins Superyachts. Joanna Partridge reports

Outsourcing Goes Full Circle as Indian Firms Look to the U.S. for Cheap Labour

MAIL ONLINE: It's a frustration experienced by most people when they've made phone calls to large companies.

An unfamiliar voice answers the phone in a call centre hundreds of miles away where cheap labour is commonplace.

But in a reversal of fortunes it now appears that large Indian companies are actually now themselves outsourcing - to U.S. shores.

Large corporations that have boomed in India amid the country's nimble economy have been drawn to the U.S. where unemployment has soared.

Struggling residents desperate for work are paid between $12 and $14 a hour to be stationed in tiny cubicles for long shifts of telesales work.

Once the employees are established, many are offered the chance to be flown to India themselves - the same tactic Western countries have done in India.

Experts said that the phenomenon, which could become more widespread in the coming years, is partly due to Indian workers demanding higher wages and higher living standards. Is this a taste of the future? Outsourcing goes full circle as Indian firms look to the U.S. for cheap labour » | Daily Mail Reporter | Monday, May 23, 2011
Iceland: Volcanic Eruption

Volcanic ash approaches UK; threat of aviation chaos

Monday, 23 May 2011

Euro weiter im Sinkflug

SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN: Schweizer Export-Unternehmen ächzen – Schweizer, die ihren Urlaub in der EU verbringen wollen oder in Euroland einkaufen, wird es freuen: Der Eurokurs hat einen neuen historischen Tiefstand erreicht.

Die Befürchtung, dass dem Schuldenstaat Griechenland bald das Geld ausgehe, hat die Einheitswährung weiter in die Tiefe gerissen. Am Morgen stand der Euro zum Franken bei 1,2323 Franken. Zum Dollar sank der Euro erstmals seit März wieder unter die Marke von 1,40 Dollar. » | Montag, 23. Mai 2011

Tagesschau vom 23.05.2011
This Week, Obama and Cameron Should Compare Notes – and Then Wake Up

THE SLOG: This is the last chance to put our banks back in the cage

For a few days starting tomorrow, President Obama will smile at the well-wishers in Britain, show deference to the Queen, and generally pretend to like us. While he’s around (and I’m not breaking any injunctions here) I understand he’s going to have an economics session with Prime Minister David Cameron.

If and when that meeting of barren minds takes place, they should be able to reach a simple conclusion: no matter how hard you try to get banks to behave like social animals, they will screw you and pump up their bonuses.

Obama tried to get help to the repossession sector of the US housing market, using Federal funds. The idea was ill-conceived (chucking good money after bad) but at least three major banks used the funds fraudulently, and are now the subject of SEC investigations. His man Bernanke has been pumping Fed funds into the banking sector, in an effort to increase liquidity into the economy, for nigh on two and a half years – depending on who you believe about when it stopped, or if it ever stopped. This ‘POMO’ (Permanent Open Market Operations) scheme’s main achievement has been to send the Dow through the roof: the banks used the money for two purposes – to underwrite multinational megamergers, and buy stocks on behalf of their clients. Jobs have been lost, not created, as a result of this double-cross.

Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne first of all tried to get the banks to set an example, and forego bonuses for 2010. Bob Diamond explained that this item would not be on the agenda, and they ended up paying themselves more than ever. Almost no money has filtered through to the small business sector after QE, and the financial sector – that’s the banks, remember – is still the only bit of the economy holding its end up. Not hard when you consider they’ve been doing it mainly with taxpayers’ money. Manufacturing has grown, but much as the Government tries to hype this, growth on a base of 12% of all economic output is a spit at the tornado of problems we face. » | John Ward |Monday, May 23, 2011
Revolution Halts Tourists Visiting Egypt

The recent uprising in Egypt brought political changes to the country, but it has also scared the tourists away.

In February, there were just over 200,000 foreign visitors, while the year before the number was 1.1 million.

With this loss, many businesses are now struggling to cope. And even the finance minister admits that when the tourist industry is hit, the entire economy takes a knock.

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Giza.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Inside Story - Redefining Poverty

Is India's government trying to tackle poverty itself or is it just trying to fix the country's image?

Inside Story - Spain in Pain

Street protests in Madrid over austerity measures may turn political with elections just around the corner

TGV Jubiläum

Die Erfolgs-und Geschwindigkeitsgeschichte des TGV hat vor 30 Jahren begonnen - mit den ersten Schnell-Verbindungen zwischen Paris und Lyon sowie Paris und Genf. Ein Ereignis, das in Genf gefeiert worden ist

Tagesschau vom 21.05.2011

Zapatero unter Druck

Die Unzufriedenheit der Spanier ist groß. Bei den Kommunal- und Regionalwahlen könnte Ministerpräsident Zapatero sein Amt verlieren

Das Video hier abspielen

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Tobacco Giants Threaten to Slash Cigarette Price over Australia's Plain Packaging Plans

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: One of Australia's major tobacco companies has warned that the price of cigarettes could halve if a plan to bring in plain packets is carried out.

At the launch of a multi-million dollar campaign against the government's proposals, British and American Tobacco Australia (BATA) said more people would end up smoking if plain packaging was introduced.

BATA warned that uniform packets would make illegal imported cigarettes made in China and Indonesia and known as "chop chop" easier to disguise and would eventually force prices down sharply as tobacco companies tried to compete.

Last month, Australia unveiled the world's toughest laws on tobacco promotion that would see cigarettes sold in ugly olive-green packets plastered with graphic health warnings. Under the plan, due to take effect next year, all logos would be removed and replaced with the brand name in a small, specific font.

But BATA has vowed to fight the move, warning that it will backfire and spark a boom in black market tobacco.

"When all cigarette packs look the same and lose their trademarks and distinguishing features, counterfeiters will have a field day mass producing packets to smuggle into Australia," David Crow, BATA's chief executive said. Continue reading and comment » | Bonnie Malkin, In Sydney | Tuesday, May 17, 2011
British Work-ethic Condemned by Indian Steel Tycoon

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: A key adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron has launched an attack on the work-ethic of British managers, accusing them of failing to "go the extra mile" and being too keen to clock off at 5pm.

Indian tycoon Ratan Tata made the comments as one of his companies, Tata Steel, proposed to close or mothball part of its Scunthorpe plant, putting at risk 1,200 jobs. The plans would also see 300 jobs lost at its Teesside site.

Mr Tata, who is a member of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group, and co-chairman of the UK-India CEO Forum, described his surprise at the attitudes of bosses at steel maker Corus and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which he bought in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

He told The Times: "It's a work-ethic issue. In my experience, in both Corus and JLR, nobody is willing to go the extra mile, nobody.

"I feel if you have come from Bombay to have a meeting and the meeting goes till 6pm, I would expect that you won't, at 5 o'clock, say, 'Sorry, I have my train to catch. I have to go home.'

"Friday, from 3.30pm, you can't find anybody in their office." » | Michael Howie | Saturday, May 21, 2011

My comment:

I think Mr Tata is probably right. Our managers want all the perks, but without the effort and sacrifice involved. Workers do the work; managers get the rewards. Isn't that a clarion call for revolution? – © Mark

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Healthcare USA – Analysis by Wendell Potter: A Single Payer System for Vermont

For 18 years, Wendell Potter worked in the health insurance industry. Now's he's writing about it. In this video column, Potter looks at how Vermont is trying to create a single payer health care system

Counting the Cost - The Future of the IMF

As IRS Crusades against Americans Hiding Money Offshore, Latin American Tax Cheats Flock to U.S. Banks

iWATCH NEWS: IRS event today on plan to force banks to report foreign nationals' accounts

Teams of private bankers working for powerful banks court wealthy people from distant shores with this sales pitch: Move your cash to our country. We will keep it safe and secret.

That was the modus operandi of UBS, the Swiss banking giant that was forced to admit holding billions of dollars in covert accounts for Americans trying to avoid U.S. taxes.

It is also a tactic used by big American banks to solicit deposits from wealthy citizens in Third World countries, according to tax-evasion experts.

Even as the U.S. Internal Revenue Service crusades against Americans using offshore banks to hide money, these tax experts say, the United States itself serves as a massive haven for international tax cheats.

“We’re the biggest tax haven in the world,” says Robert Goulder, editor-in-chief of U.S.-based Tax Notes International. “People joke about the Cayman Islands. The biggest haven is an island, all right. It’s either Manhattan or Great Britain.” » | Michael Hudson | Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Asia Today: Japan Slips into Recession

Japan's economy contracted much more than expected in the January-March quarter, its second consecutive quarter of decline, putting it technically in a recession. Does the country have the political and economic will to fight its way out? WSJ's Mariko Sanchanta and Jake Schlesinger discuss

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Resigns as Head of International Monetary Fund

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund, four days after being charged with the sexual attack of a Manhattan hotel chambermaid.

In a statement released by the Fund in the early hours of Thursday morning, Mr Strauss-Kahn said he needed to "devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence".

The 62-year-old Frenchman has been under intense pressure since being arrested in the First Class cabin of on an Air France jet on the tarmac of John F. Kennedy airport on Saturday afternoon.

He is being held at Rikers Island prison after being formally charged with seven crimes related to the alleged assault of a 32-year-old Guinean maid in his suite at the Sofitel earlier that day, including attempted rape and an illegal sexual act. » | Jon Swaine, New York | Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Woollen Coffins Keep English Mill Alive

England once exported wool around the world, but globalisation has all but killed the industry off.

Cheaper labour overseas means that hundreds of wool mills, which once drove the economy in the north of the country, have shut down.

One of the last surviving mills has spotted an emerging trend in eco-friendly funerals, and has come up with a rather unusual way of keeping itself competitive.

Rory Challands reports from West Yorkshire.

Schuldengrenze erreicht: Amerika darf sich kein neues Geld leihen

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE: Die Vereinigten Staaten haben ihre Schuldengrenze erreicht und dürfen sich kein neues Geld leihen. Noch können das Sondermaßnahmen hinauszögern. Präsident Obama warnt vor einer neuen Krise - schlimmer als die jüngste.

Die Vereinigten Staaten haben am Montag die gesetzlich erlaubte Schuldengrenze erreicht und dürfen sich kein frisches Geld mehr leihen (siehe Amerika stößt an seine Schuldengrenze). Das Finanzministerium kann nach eigenen Angaben mit Hilfe von Sondermaßnahmen bis zum 2. August Mittel auftreiben, um Rechnungen zu bezahlen. Die Frist könne sich ändern - je nach Entwicklung von Ausgaben und Einnahmen. In den Blick rücken nun die Notreserven und das Tafelsilber. Zunächst will die Regierung ihre Einzahlungen in die staatliche Altersvorsorge stoppen, um den Haushalt zu entlasten. Die Republikaner forderten unterdessen neue Sparanstrengungen.

Wird die Schuldengrenze von derzeit 14,3 Billionen Dollar bis zum Fristablauf nicht erhöht, droht der Zahlungsausfall. Präsident Barack Obama warnte, dann könnten die Vereinigten Staaten in eine Rezession rutschen und eine Finanzkrise lostreten, die schlimmer wäre als die jüngste. » | FAZ.NET / Reuters | Dienstag, 17. Mai 2011

Monday, 16 May 2011

Signals Spain May Seek Bailout Spelling Disaster for Eurozone

The shadows of people taking part in a demonstration organised by the group dubbed 'Youth Without a Future' in Madrid, to protest against professional and social conditions of the youth in Spain, May 15, 2011

Obama Warns of New Financial Crisis If US Defaults on Debt

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: America risks unravelling the world's financial system should the country fail to increase its legal borrowing limits, President Barack Obama has warned.

The warning from The White House comes as the US moves ever closer to a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which Congress needs to increase in a matter of weeks to prevent the government defaulting on its borrowings for the first time in history.

Given US government debt, or Treasuries as they are known, are considered the safest asset in financial markets and held by investors and central banks around the world, few want to imagine the consequences of a default.

"If investors around the world thought that the full faith and credit of the United States was not being backed up, if they thought that we might renege on our IOU's, it could unravel the entire financial system," President Obama said at a town hall meeting late yesterday.

"We could have a worse recession than we already had [have], a worse financial crisis than we already had [have]."

The US Treasury has projected that the debt limit will be reached this month, though Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, has said he can juggle accounts until early August to avoid a default. » | Richard Blackden, US Business Editor | Monday, May 16, 2011

My comment:

I find it rather interesting, yet very disturbing, troubling, that this president warns that the world’s financial system will be in trouble if the US doesn’t increase its legal borrowing limits. How perverse is that? That’s like a householder being in deep debt and coming to the end of his credit limit; but instead of paying off the debt, he goes to the bank manager to cajole him into increasing his credit limit to avert the crisis. That way he gets deeper into debt! Where the hell did this guy Obama learn his economics? Which Ivy League university was that now? As all sane, sensible people know, what he needs to do is start paying off the nation’s debts. America needs to learn to live within its means. That way the US will distance itself from its borrowing limits. Living within one’s means is sound economics. It was ever thus. – © Mark

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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Exclusive: Salaries for Top Executives Are Rocketing 'Out of Control'

THE INDEPENDENT: A new investigation shows pay inequality is accelerating in Britain, with top bosses set to earn 215 times the average wage by 2020. It also demolishes the arguments they put forward to support their astonishing incomes

Britain's bosses are pocketing an increasing portion of the nation's income, according to a report from the High Pay Commission to be published tomorrow. As the majority of people in the country face the largest drop in household income for three decades, a tiny minority at the top are awarding themselves a growing slice of the UK's wealth.

The top one thousandth of the British working population currently receives 5 per cent of the country's earnings, a ratio equivalent to that in the 1940s, the report says. If these trends continue, income for the highest paid will account for 14 per cent of the country's total by 2030 – the same proportion as in 1900.

The independent commission was set up in November to scrutinise the rising pay of those at the top. Its first report concludes that during the decade Labour was in power, income at the top grew by 64.2 per cent, while that of an average earner increased by 7.2 per cent over the same period.

The study accuses businesses and governments of having "failed to tackle the dramatic growth in pay at the top" despite growing public anger at the gulf between soaring rewards for executives and tightening circumstances for the rest of the country.

The conclusions will be a blow to David Cameron's attempts to emphasise that "we're all in this together". The Government has appeared flat-footed in its attempts to persuade senior executives and bankers to curb the pay and bonuses they award themselves, particularly as the effects of the recession are still being keenly felt by the rest of the country. » | Emily Dugan | Sunday, May 15, 2011
Trichet: Es gibt keine Euro-Krise

REUTERS DEUTSCHLAND: Berlin - EZB-Chef Jean-Claude Trichet hat Befürchtungen zurückgewiesen, der Euro sei angesichts der anhaltenden Schuldenkrise in einigen Mitgliedstaaten der Währungsunion in Gefahr.

"Es gibt keine Krise des Euro", schrieb der Präsident der Europäischen Zentralbank in einem vorab veröffentlichten Gastbeitrag für die Zeitung "Bild am Sonntag". "Was wir derzeit in einigen Ländern des Eurogebiets beobachten, ist in erster Linie eine Schuldenkrise der öffentlichen Haushalte." Mehrere Mitgliedstaaten des Euroraums müssten ihre Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik rigoros ändern, nachdem in der Vergangenheit Fehler gemacht worden seien. Grundlegende Reformen seien erforderlich, damit wirtschaftspolitische Regeln verbessert und von allen eingehalten würden. "Wir können stolz darauf sein, dass unsere Währung stabil und glaubwürdig ist." » | Sonntag, 15. Mai 2011

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

EU soll Athen 80 Mrd. Euro "schenken"

DIE PRESSE: Bank-Austria-Chefökonom Stefan Bruckbauer geht davon aus, dass der IWF und die Euroländer die Hälfte der Griechenland-Kredite abschreiben müssen. Die Wahrscheinlichkeit der Rückzahlung ist gering.

Die EU und der Internationale Währungsfonds (IWF) werden wohl die Hälfte der Hilfsgelder für Griechenland abhaken müssen. Dabei geht es um rund 80 Mrd. Euro. Zu dieser Einschätzung kommt der Chefvolkswirt der Bank Austria, Stefan Bruckbauer. Derzeit bereiten Europas Regierungen die Öffentlichkeit darauf vor, dass das hoch verschuldete Land weitere Milliardenhilfen bekommt. » | Von Christian Höller, Die Presse | Mittwoch, 11. Mai 2011
Griechenland: Sparprogramm endet mit Krawallen

Greek Anger Over Austerity Measures

Auditors from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have arrived in Greece to assess the country's economic situation after last year's bailout.

Greece owes $155bn and paying all that money back has meant tough austerity measures and public protests.

Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports from the capital, Athens.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Australia's High Currency May Bust Sectors

Australia appears to have defied the global financial crisis, enjoying several consecutive years of growth. There is another side to this rosy picture though, as the country's strong currency is hurting a number of industries. Andrew Thomas reports

Monday, 9 May 2011

US House Price Drop Accelerates

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: US house prices have suffered their biggest quarterly fall since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, underlining the scale of the headwinds still facing the world's biggest economy.

Average house prices slumped 3pc in the first three months of this year, a decline that pushed the number of homeowners in negative equity – where a mortgage is higher than the value of a property – to 28pc from 22pc a year earlier, according to new research from Zillow, a major US property website.

American homeowners are enduring the first national drop in prices on record after the most recent boom drove up values and fuelled a boom in homebuilding. Average prices are 33pc below the peak they reached in July 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Schiller Index.

As in Britain, the outlook for prices remains uncertain.

That excess of supply has left repossessed homes accounting for between 30pc and 40pc of current sales, which is in turn driving prices lower.

"Home value declines are currently equal to those we experienced during the darkest days of the housing recession," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. "Rising foreclosures and high negative equity rates make it almost certain that we won't see a bottom in home values until 2012 or later." Continue reading and comment » | Richard Blackden, US Business Editor | Monday, May 09, 2011
Sozialistischer Inselstaat: Kuba will Bürgern Auslandreisen erlauben

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Die kubanische Regierung prüft, ihren Bürgern Reisen ins Ausland zu gewähren - erstmals seit einem halben Jahrhundert wäre ein Urlaub außerhalb der Landesgrenzen damit erlaubt.

Havanna - Die Castro-Regierung im sozialistischen Inselstaat Kuba hatte in den vergangenen Wochen wiederholt Reformen angekündigt - jetzt sollen offenbar Taten folgen: Die kubanische Regierung will ihren Bürgern erstmals seit einem halben Jahrhundert Urlaubsreisen ins Ausland erlauben. Das sieht ein Reformplan vor, den die Behörden des kommunistischen Landes am Montag veröffentlichten. Einzelheiten zu den Plänen wurden zunächst nicht bekannt. » | amz/AFP | Montag, 09. Mai 2011
Währungsunion: Trennung als letztes Mittel

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE: Kann ein Mitgliedsland aus der Währungsunion austreten? In der Europäischen Zentralbank ist man zu dem Schluss gekommen, dass dies ohne einen Austritt aus der EU nicht vorstellbar sei. Welche Antwort gibt das Völkerrecht?

Die Reaktionen sind heftig. Der Vorsitzende der Euro-Gruppe, Luxemburgs Regierungschef Juncker, nennt einen Austritt Griechenlands aus der Währungsunion eine „dumme Idee“. Und der griechische Ministerpräsident Papandreou klagt über diese „Provokation“, die zeige, welchen Gefahren sein Land ausgesetzt sei. Doch niemand sagt: „Das geht gar nicht.“

Dabei sind manche Bündnisse durchaus für die Ewigkeit angelegt. Sie sind zumindest auf unbestimmte Zeit geschlossen - das gilt für die Ehe wie für die Europäische Union. Bis zum Inkrafttreten des Vertrages von Lissabon kannte die Gemeinschaft auch kein Austrittsrecht, kein vertraglich geregeltes, wohlgemerkt. Nunmehr heißt es: „Jeder Mitgliedstaat kann im Einklang mit seinen verfassungsrechtlichen Vorschriften beschließen, aus der Union auszutreten.“ » | Von Reinhard Müller | Montag, 09. Mai 2011

FAZ: Das Drachmendrama: Das griechische Statistikamt arbeitet mittlerweile zuverlässig. Manch einer wünscht sich jedoch, die aktuellen Zahlen wären erfunden. Sie zeigen: Die Bevölkerung ist zutiefst verunsichert - Spekulationen über einen Euro-Ausstieg verstärken dieses Gefühl. » | Von Michael Martens | Sonntag, 08. Mai 2011

FAZ: Das Scheitern: Die großen Länder des Euro-Raums haben die Griechen ins Gebet genommen. Das Land müsse endlich seine Hausaufgaben machen. Die Geheimniskrämerei um das Treffen verdeutlicht die Brisanz. » | Kommentar | Von Holger Steltzner | Sonntag, 08. Mai 2011

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fortunes and Football Clubs - UK-based Russians Cashing In

Greece Denies Eurozone Exit Plan

George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, is denying his country is getting ready to leave the Eurozone.

Rumours that Athens was quitting the single currency has lead to a fall in the value of the Euro.

Finance Ministers from the Eurozone's biggest economies have been holding talks on Greece's debt crisis.

Greece's sovereign debt stands at $470bn. That is more than a year-and-a-half of its entire economic output.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund agreed a loan of $160bn in May last year. The terms were eased in the spring.

But the financial markets consider the high repayments as unsustainable, leading to growing fears of a default. That could spell disaster for the Eurozone.

Al Jazeera's Tim Friend has more.

GB : les riches toujours plus riches

leJDD.fr: Malgré la crise, les grandes fortunes britanniques ont vu leur richesse gonfler en moyenne de 18% sur les 12 derniers mois, sans toutefois détrôner de la première place le magnat de l'acier Lakshmi Mittal, selon le classement publié dimanche par le Sunday Times.

Dans un pays qui compte désormais 73 milliardaires contre 53 l'année dernière, soit presque le record de 75 atteint avant la crise, la reine n'arrive, elle, "qu'à" la 257e place avec une fortune évaluée à 300 millions de livres, en hausse de 3%. [Source: leJDD.fr] | Dimanche 08 Mai 2011

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Wealth goes through the roof » | Philip Beresford | Sunday, May 08, 2011 [£]

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Debatte über Währungsunion: Top-Ökonom fordert Euro-Aus für Griechenland

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Die Euro-Finanzminister wiegeln nach Kräften ab, doch die Diskussion über einen Verbleib Griechenlands in der Währungsunion ebbt nicht ab. Ifo-Präsident Hans-Werner Sinn erneuert jetzt seine Forderung: Das hochverschuldete Land soll raus aus der Währungsunion - im eigenen Interesse.

Frankfurt am Main - Der Chef des Münchner Ifo-Instituts, Hans-Werner Sinn, hat seinen Vorschlag bekräftigt, Griechenland solle aus dem Verbund der Euro-Staaten austreten. "Der Austritt aus dem Euro wäre das kleinere Übel", sagte Sinn der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung". Er reagierte damit auf einen Bericht von SPIEGEL ONLINE über ein geheimes Treffen mehrerer Euro-Staaten zum Thema Griechenland. Die griechische Regierung und europäische Institutionen hatten zunächst dementiert, dass ein solches Treffen stattfinde. Später räumten sie die Zusammenkunft ein, bestritten aber, dass über einen möglichen Euro-Austritt Griechenlands gesprochen worden sei.

Ökonom Sinn ist da wesentlich direkter. "Wenn Griechenland aus dem Euro austräte, könnte es abwerten und wettbewerbsfähig werden", begründete er seine Forderung gegenüber der "FAS". "Aber es gäbe freilich sofort einen Bank-Run, und die Banken wären pleite." Die Geldhäuser müsste man daher mit Hilfe der Europäischen Union neu aufstellen. "Wenn Griechenland dagegen eine sogenannte interne Abwertung in dem nötigen Umfang von 20 bis 30 Prozent im Euro-Raum durch Kürzung von Löhnen und Preisen versuchte hinzukriegen, geriete es an den Rand des Bürgerkriegs." Mit anderen Worten: Es liege im ureigenen Interesse Griechenlands, sich aus der Euro-Zone zu verabschieden - denn sonst wäre ein noch viel radikaleres Sparprogramm nötig als bisher. » | mik | Samstag, 07. Mai 2011
America’s Homeless Middle Class

Counting the Cost - US-Pakistan Relations: Dead and Buried?

How does Osama bin Laden's death affect US financial aid to Pakistan?

Geheimtreffen der EU-Finanzminister: Euro-Kernländer schließen Umschuldung Griechenlands aus

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE: Nach dem unangekündigten Krisengipfel der EU-Finanzminister erklärte der Chef der Eurogruppe, Luxemburgs Finanzminister Juncker, eine Umschuldung Griechenlands komme nicht in Frage. Einen Austritt Griechenlands aus der Euro-Zone bezeichnete Juncker als „dumme Idee“.

Die Kernländer der Eurozone haben bei einem unangekündigten Treffen in Luxemburg in der Nacht zum Samstag den Ausstieg Griechenlands aus der Währungsunion ausgeschlossen. Der Chef der Eurogruppe, Luxemburgs Finanzminister Jean-Claude Juncker, sagte nach dem Treffen, auch eine Umschuldung Griechenlands komme nicht in Frage. Einen Austritt Griechenlands aus der Euro-Zone bezeichnete Juncker als „dumme Idee“. Das wäre „ein Weg, den wir niemals gehen würden“, sagte er. „Wir wollen nicht, dass der Euro-Raum ohne Grund explodiert“, fügte er hinzu.

An dem Treffen in einem Schloss bei Luxemburg nahmen unter anderen die Finanzminister aus Deutschland, Frankreich, Italien und Spanien teil. Weitere Teilnehmer waren der Präsident der Europäischen Zentralbank (EZB), Jean-Claude Trichet, EU-Währungskommissar Olli Rehn und der griechische Finanzminister Giorgos Papakonstantinou. » | FAZ.NET | Samstag, 07. Mai 2011

Friday, 6 May 2011

Pläne für eigene Währung: Griechenland erwägt Austritt aus der Euro-Zone

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Die Schuldenkrise in Griechenland spitzt sich zu. Die Regierung des Landes überlegt nach Informationen von SPIEGEL ONLINE, die Euro-Zone zu verlassen. Die Finanzminister der Währungsunion und Vertreter der EU-Kommission treffen sich am heutigen Freitagabend zu einer geheimen Krisensitzung.

Berlin - Die wirtschaftlichen Probleme Griechenlands sind gewaltig, fast täglich protestieren Bürger gegen die Regierung. Nun sieht Ministerpräsident Georgios Papandreou offenbar keine andere Möglichkeit mehr: Nach Informationen von SPIEGEL ONLINE überlegt seine Regierung, den Euro aufzugeben und wieder eine eigene Währung einzuführen.

Alarmiert durch die Bestrebungen hat die EU-Kommission für den Freitagabend zu einem Krisentreffen nach Luxemburg geladen. Das Treffen findet im Château de Senningen statt, das von der luxemburgischen Regierung für offizielle Termine genutzt wird. Neben dem möglichen Austritt Griechenlands aus der Währungsunion steht auch eine baldige Umschuldung des Landes auf der Tagesordnung. Ein Jahr nach Ausbruch der Griechenland-Krise bedeutet dies für die Europäische Währungsunion einen existentiellen Wendepunkt - unabhängig davon, für welche Variante sie sich entscheidet. » | Von Christian Reiermann | Freitag, 06. Mai 2011
Ten Reasons for Thinking the World Economy Is Turning Soft

TELEGRAPH – BLOGS – JEREMY WARNER: It’s all a bit worrying. Evidence of a sharp slowdown in both the European and world economies continues to mount. Earlier confidence that the global economy was strong enough to absorb moves by China and other emerging markets to tighten policy in the face of rising inflation are being increasingly questioned. Today alone, there’s been a whole clutch of indicators suggesting trouble on the way. Here’s a list of the top ten. » | Jeremy Warner | Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Rettungspaket zwingt Portugal zu radikalem Kurswechsel

REUTERS DEUTSCHLAND: Lissabon/Berlin (Reuters) - Portugal muss unter der Obhut von Europäischer Union und IWF das Ruder radikal herumreißen.

Die Kreditgeber verlangen im Gegenzug für das 78 Milliarden Euro schwere Hilfspaket ein Anpassungsprogramm, das unter anderem lange verzögerte Reformen am Arbeitsmarkt vorsieht. "Portugal muss viel offener werden gegenüber dem Wettbewerb", sagte IWF-Verhandlungsführer Poul Thomsen am Donnerstag in Lissabon nach Abschluss der Verhandlungen über das Hilfspaket, die von EU, IWF und Europäische Zentralbank geführt wurden.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel drängt auf realistische Wachstumsannahmen für das Programm. Bundeswirtschaftsminister Rainer Brüderle forderte das Land auf, seine Probleme mit der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit anzupacken. "Entscheidend ist, dass Solidarität keine Einbahnstraße ist", sagte er. EZB-Präsident Jean-Claude Trichet hob hervor, eine breite politische Unterstützung für das Hilfsprogramm sei wichtig.

Mit der Einigung erhält der Euro-Staat nach Griechenland und Irland als drittes Mitgliedsland der Währungsunion Finanzhilfen seiner Partnerländer sowie von EU und IWF. Der Internationale Währungsfonds übernimmt mit 26 Milliarden Euro ein Drittel der Portugal-Hilfen. Wenn sich die Aufteilung der Kredite und Garantien an den bisherigen Schlüsseln orientiert, kommt auf Deutschland insgesamt ein Anteil von ungefähr 15 Milliarden Euro zu. » | Donnerstag, 05. Mai 2011
Branding Best Western

Rubenstein: China Will Reclaim Its World Economic Dominance

Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein says China will once again sit atop the world's economies in the 21st century, making it an extremely attractive place to invest

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in Saudi Arabia

REUTERS: May 3 - The world's No. 1 oil exporter faces the twin challenges of creating jobs for a young population at a time of unrest in the Arab world, and pursuing economic reforms with a royal succession looming.

The stability of Saudi Arabia is of global importance since the kingdom sits on more than a fifth of oil reserves, is home to the biggest Arab stock market, is a major owner of dollar assets and acts as a regional linchpin of U.S. security policy.

King Abdullah, who is around 87, unveiled $93 billion in social handouts in March, on top of another $37 billion announced less than a month earlier.

But this apparent effort to insulate the kingdom from Arab popular protests sweeping the region has not stopped activists, including liberals, Shi'ites and Islamists, calling in petitions for more political freedom. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no elected parliament.

Riyadh has not seen the kind of mass uprisings that have shaken the Arab world this year, but Shi'ites in the kingdom's oil-producing east have staged a number of protests.

Almost no Saudis in Riyadh answered a Facebook call for protests on March 11 in the face of a massive security presence.

Saudi Arabia has been ruled by the Al Saud family for 79 years, with influence from clerics following the austere Wahhabi school of Islam, and many oppose the very reforms the king has started.

However, slowing down reforms to modernise education might affect government plans to create jobs -- unemployment last year reached 10 percent.

And with around 70 percent of Saudi Arabia's almost 19 million people under the age of 30, the pressure to find them gainful employment is huge. » | RIYADH | Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Sultan Expects Big Inflow of Tourists to Kingdom’s Resorts

ARAB NEWS: JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s participation in international forums such as the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai would boost the flow of tourists to the Kingdom, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).

In a statement after visiting the Kingdom’s pavilion at the exhibition, he said Saudi Arabia is replete with tourist attractions including historical sites such as Madain Saleh and Diriya.

He emphasized the need to present Saudi Arabia as a major tourist destination in the region to Gulf citizens in order to encourage them to spend their vacations in the Kingdom’s tourist resorts.

“SCTA intends to organize a variety of attractive programs and activities to woo Saudis as well as GCC citizens to spend their holidays in the Kingdom,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted him as saying.

He said Saudi tourism would not be limited to Haj and Umrah as new investment projects would enhance tourist facilities and attractions in the Kingdom.

“Forums like the Arabian Travel Market will enable SCTA to make use of the experiences of Arab countries in promoting tourism,” the prince said. » | P.K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News | Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Switzerland Identifies $1bn Worth of Dictators' Assets

THE GUARDIAN: Three-year freeze for Swiss bank assets of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt's Hosni Murbarak and Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

The Swiss government says it has identified potential assets to be frozen worth 830m Swiss francs (nearly $1bn or £600m) belonging to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the ousted presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Swiss president and foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, speaking in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, said the assets include 360m Swiss francs that may belong to Gaddafi or his entourage.

She said Switzerland had also linked 410m Swiss francs to the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and 60m Swiss francs to Tunisia's deposed autocrat, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Switzerland has ordered banks and other financial institutions to freeze possible assets belonging to the three men and their key supporters to prevent the funds from being secretly withdrawn. The Swiss government has said Tunisia and Egypt have already started legal proceedings to claim the assets.

The government added that neither country has yet provided the necessary evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing involving the money. » | Associated Press in Geneva | Tuesday, April 03, 2011
Risking It All - Brazil

Unions Warn of 'Massive' Protests over Government Cuts

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Trade union leaders have warned of industrial turmoil on a "massive scale" as workers protest at government cuts.

A series of annual conferences are due to be held over coming weeks, with activists expected to vent their anger at the Coalition's austerity measures.

Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, the public service trade union, said: "After the double bank holiday, feel-good factor wears off, the reality of austerity Britain will kick back in.

"Unless this Government changes direction, it is heading for industrial turmoil on a massive scale.

"The Government must understand that Unison will fight tooth and nail to protect and defend public services, and will ballot one million of its members to strike to protect their pensions.

"This will not be a token skirmish, but a prolonged and sustained war, because this Government has declared war on a huge proportion of the population." » | Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent | Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday, 2 May 2011

Fines and Bans All the Rage in NYC

Working Americans Suffer Most As Debt Collectors Go Wild

What Is Ben Bernanke’s Favorite Word?

Stocks Set for Higher Open after Death of Osama bin Laden

CNN MONEY: NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks are poised for a higher open, as investors cheer news that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces Monday.

The founder and leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, north of Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

In an address to the nation Sunday night, President Barack Obama called bin Laden's death, "the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda." » | CNNMoney staff | Monday, May 02, 2011