Thursday, 30 April 2015

Money And Power in North Korea: Hidden Economy – Documentary

North Korea has becoming increasingly isolated under a series of international economic sanctions. The country is in financial straits. How has the Kim Jong Un regime managed to stay in power? Our interviews with people who were once high-ranking officials in the leadership inner circle and investigation in several countries revealed the existence of secret funds that only the supreme leader can freely use. The program will explore connection between power and money in North Korea.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Markets Face New Threat as US Federal Reserve Ponders Interest Rate Rise

THE GUARDIAN: Janet Yellen’s decision will have global consequences - and the end of ultra-low rates could mean meltdown for indebted countries

The moment US central bank chief Janet Yellen presses the button will be a massive economic event. The prospect that higher interest rates in the world’s largest economy could come this year has already sent the dollar surging against the pound and euro. It has also fuelled fears of a meltdown in countries that have borrowed heavily in the US currency.

Borrowing is inherently risky, all the more so when the interest rate can change at short notice. Higher costs for those that have borrowed in dollars could cripple companies in Brazil and Turkey that were enticed by cheap credit to fund a new factory or office building, or just to pay the wages.

At the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting last week, chief economist Olivier Blanchard dismissed these concerns, arguing that companies may have hedged their position, while investors and finance ministers were well prepared. But a succession of market shocks in the last two years has convinced many in the financial community that a bigger crash is coming. There have been violent movements in currencies, bonds and commodity prices, especially crude oil and metals. A rise in US interest rates could add to this already volatile situation and drag stock markets towards another sudden crash. » | Phillip Inman | Washington | Saturday, April 18, 2015

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dispatch from the North Korean Border: What Do You Want to Know?

NK News are crowdfunding to send an investigative reporter to the North Korea–China border, and they want you to shape what they’ll cover

Read The Guardian article here | Maeve Shearlaw | Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Alexis Tsipras Flies to Moscow amid Speculation of Bailout from Putin

THE GUARDIAN: Greek prime minister to sign accords with Russia, including gas price discount and possible loans in return for Greek assets, that would alarm EU creditors

Determined to take Greek-Russian relations out of “the deep freeze”, a defiant Alexis Tsipras flew to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Vladimir Putin, ratcheting up the pressure on western creditors keeping debt-stricken Greece afloat.

After speculation that Russia’s president might make an offer of financial help that the Greek prime minister will find hard to turn down, officials said the controversial trip should be seen through the prism of Athens’ leftist-led government doing “what is best for Greece”.

They described the visit as being both “politically friendly and economically promising”.

The two leaders, who hold formal talks and a working lunch on Wednesday, are expected to sign an array of accords, including a three-year plan to strengthen ties economically and commercially. » | Helena Smith in Athens and Alec Luhn in Moscow | Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Greece Draws Up Drachma Plans, Prepares to Miss IMF Payment

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: 'We are a Left-wing government. If we have to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,' says senior Greek official

Greece is drawing up drastic plans to nationalise the country's banking system and introduce a parallel currency to pay bills unless the eurozone takes steps to defuse the simmering crisis and soften its demands.

Sources close to the ruling Syriza party said the government is determined to keep public services running and pay pensions as funds run critically low. It may be forced to take the unprecedented step of missing a payment to the International Monetary Fund next week.

Greece no longer has enough money to pay the IMF €458m on April 9 and also to cover payments for salaries and social security on April 14, unless the eurozone agrees to disburse the next tranche of its interim bail-out deal in time.

“We are a Left-wing government. If we have to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,” said a senior official. » | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Thursday, April 02, 2015