After months out of the spotlight, Greece was back at the center of Europe’s financial troubles on Wednesday, when concerns over the stability of the government and its bailout program triggered a massive sell-off in stocks and bonds. Greece’s main stock index closed 6.3 percent lower having traded down as much as 9.8 percent lower earlier in the day. Following a 5.7 percent loss on Tuesday, that brings the index to its worst level in 14 months.
As if the fast degenerating geo-political situation isn’t bad enough, here’s another lorry load of concerns to add to the pile. The UK remains the fourth most highly indebted major economy in the world after Japan, Sweden and Canada, with total non financial debt of 276pc of GDP. The US is not far behind with debt of 264pc of GDP. However, the real stand-out is China, which since the crisis began has seen debt spiral from a very manageable 140pc of GDP to 220pc and rising.
Yemeni government officials and Shiite rebels signed a peace agreement following days of violence that left more than 140 people dead and sent thousands fleeing their homes, state media said, although major rebel advances earlier in the day deepened a sense of uncertainty in the country. The agreement calls for an immediate cease-fire and the formation of a technocratic government within a month after consultations with all political parties, a U.N. envoy said later at a joint news conference with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the capital, Sanaa.
Libya’s struggling elected government and representatives of 15 neighbouring nations today unanimously rejected the idea of military intervention as a way to restore stability in the oil-rich nation, which some say is on the brink of civil war. Meeting in Madrid, officials from countries surrounding Libya and to its north across the Mediterranean concluded “there is no military solution to the current crisis.” But Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo warned that the status quo puts Libya in a position where it could slide into a Syria-style civil war.
Turkey’s military is drawing up plans for a possible “buffer zone” on the country’s southern border, where it faces a threat from Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Turkish media quoted President Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday. The government will evaluate the plans and decide whether such a move is necessary, Turkish television stations quoted Erdogan as telling reporters on his plane as he returned from an official visit to Qatar. Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, has made clear it does not want a frontline role in a military coalition.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar were understood to have again come to head this weekend with an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have accused authorities in Doha of supporting terror related groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and meddling in the internal affairs of other GCC states. The meetings could eventually lead to Qatar – the world’s biggest shipper of liquified natural gas – being ejected from the GCC.
The Lebanese army advanced on Monday into a border town attacked by radical insurgents over the weekend in the most serious spillover of the three-year-old Syrian civil war into Lebanon. The Beirut government, meanwhile, said the deadly assault would not go unpunished. With army reinforcements arriving in Arsal, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, himself a Sunni Muslim, said there could be no “political solutions” with the Sunni radicals identified as members of the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, which has seized wide areas of Syria and Iraq.
Portugal is ready to bail out the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) to prevent a catastrophic run on its banks that could plunge its fragile economy further into crisis. The recapitalisation plan could be announced as early as Sunday evening after trading in the country’s biggest private bank was suspended by the Lisbon stock exchange on Friday after its shares went into freefall. The cash injection from the state is designed to stop savers pulling any more money out of the bank.
Catalunya Bank, a victim of Spain’s economic crisis, has been sold to BBVA, the country’s second-largest bank. But Spain’s sale of Catalunya Bank — in which it owns a 66 percent share — for just €1.2 billion means the country lost €11.8 billion by propping up by the bank which teetered when thousands of borrowers defaulted on their loans. That is close to the €13.8 billion in cuts to education and healthcare imposed by the Spanish government in its austerity drive, Spain’s El País newspaper noted. Spain will now turn its attention to selling off another failed bank in Bankia.
Because of this change in the budget deficit would grow this year to 2.7% of GDP from 1.8% of GDP as initially planned, said Bulgarian Minister of Finance, Petar Chobanov, at the end of a meeting of the Government. Also Chobanov announced that public debt will increase by BGN 3.4 billion (1.7 billion euros) due to the issuance of new bonds of which 2.7 billion leva will be allocated to address liquidity problems the fourth commercial bank, Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank), which last month was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Bulgaria is to allow its fourth-biggest lender to collapse and will hive off its healthy activities into a separate bank as it moves to clear up the mess from the country’s worst financial scandal since the 1990s. The central bank said it was removing Corporate Commercial Bank’s (Corpbank) license and alerting prosecutors to the possibility that its main shareholder stole money from the bank just before the central bank took over its operations.
History shows that when the difference between a country or region’s credit-to-GDP ratio and the long-term trends of that ratio exceeds 10%, it indicates a pretty rapid accumulation of debt and is usually followed by serious strain on a banking system within 3 years. When residential property prices start rising above their long term trends, that often points to a credit boom and comes two to three years ahead of a crisis.
The state of Turkey was “on alert” late June 11 after 80 Turkish citizens, including Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz, have been taken hostage by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as Turkish authorities talked to their U.S. counterparts on phone and briefed their NATO allies at an emergency meeting. “All institutions of Turkey are on alert,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has told the members of the Parliament, stressing that Ankara “takes all necessary initiatives in international organizations.”
While the world’s attention has been focused on the annexation of Crimea and the violence in eastern Ukraine, things seem to be falling apart in another of Russia’s controversial satellites. The president of the semi-independent state of Abkhazia has apparently fled the capital, Sukhumi, after protesters stormed his headquarters. The opposition is reportedly still in control of the building. Public dissatisfaction with President Alexander Ankvab’s government had been growing for some time thanks to an ailing economy and allegations of public corruption.
Forces loyal to a rogue former Libyan general carried out an air raid yesterday on a Islamist militia camp in Benghazi. Two airstrikes hit the compound as part of Gen Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Islamists. “A warplane carried out raids on a camp of the ‘February 17 Martyrs Brigades’,” said Ahmed Al Jazaoui, a militiaman. The strikes came less than 24 hours after gunmen attacked an interior ministry unit tasked with protecting Libya’s outgoing government.
Twenty years after the horrors of the Rwandan genocide, researchers at The University of Sydney have created a model predicting which countries will experience targeted mass violence across the globe. Known as the Atrocity Forecasting Project, the model plugs in more than a dozen “instability variables,” which include statistics on civil wars, regime changes, assassinations, neighboring state conflicts, infant mortality rates, and instances of previous genocides.
Responding to rumors that Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank, Sheyang county’s largest bank (link in Chinese) with 44 branches, is in financial trouble, depositors have been flocking to branches in at least three villages since March 24. Another bank in the farming county, the Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai, was also bombarded with wary savers wanting to take their money out, according to state media. Residents waited in droves in the rain outside bank branches to take their money out.
Many have played a balancing act between Russia and the West, and almost all have significant Russian-speaking populations. “Officials in Tashkent are worried about the domino effect of an unbound Russia. In the minds of Uzbek officials, the fall of Ukraine will inevitably lead to the fall of Uzbekistan,” said Alisher Khamidov, a researcher on central Asian affairs. “After Ukraine, Uzbekistan will move to beef up its military and build closer military partnerships with China and the West.”
Two Russian warships on their way to the Black Sea have passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus staits. Russia’s ‘Saratov’ and ‘Yamal’ ships sailed unaccompanied through the Marmara Sea before entering the Bosphorus straits at 07:30 local time (05:30 GMT). The two ships, which were usually based in the eastern Mediterranean to monitor developments in Syria, are now on their way to Crimea due to the latest situation there. At the same time a Ukrainian ship called ‘Hetman Sahaidachny’ entered the straits at Canakkale (Gallipoli) on its way to the Marmara Sea.
Taken by surprise by the reaction of the Ukrainian people to their president’s rejection of the EU treaty in November, Europeans and Americans have, once again, been caught off-guard these last days — this time by the decision of the Russian president to intervene in Crimea. This move is however not without precedent. The question is which prior moment of history will it resemble the most: the 1968 model, when Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to put an end to the Prague Spring; or the 2008 scenario, when the same Vladimir Putin intervened in Georgia.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later, Mr Lavrov said Russian troops were necessary in Ukraine “until the normalisation of the political situation” and dismissed threats of sanctions and boycotts. He added: “We call for a responsible approach, to put aside geopolitical calculations, and above all to put the interests of the Ukrainian people first.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “China has always upheld the principles of diplomacy and the fundamental norms of international relations. “At the same time we also take into consideration the history and the current complexities of the Ukrainian issue.”
Ukraine’s interior minister accused Moscow’s military of blockading an airport near a Russian naval base on Friday and armed men took control of another airport in Ukraine’s Crimean capital of Simferopol. In a Facebook post, Arsen Avakov called the seizure of the Belbek international airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol a “military invasion and occupation.” He added: “It is a breach of all international agreements and norms.” The Interfax news agency quoted Russian military sources in the region as saying the incident at Belbek airport was intended to stop “fighters” flying in.
Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov held an emergency meeting of the Council of National Security and Defence. “Alexander Turchinov has to split, performing the duties of President and the Speaker. And now, when we see a very dangerous processes in the same Sevastopol, he called a meeting of the National Security Council. We knew it would. The Ambassador of Russia was removed, the Russian Foreign Ministry statement made are all signs of a very dangerous manifestations. Separatist sentiment in Sevastopol is specifically fueled by Russia.
As you can see, while the Western district does border Ukraine, it also covers a huge amount of other land, too. It is possible that some of the troops in this district may be relatively close to Ukraine: According to the Wall Street Journal, the 20th Army, based about 200 miles from the border, is listed to be involved in “operational and tactical exercises.” On the other hand, the military district in the South is the only one that borders Crimea, and Russia says it is not the part of the drill at all. Crimea is a place to watch, and with good reason. The peninsula is a part of Ukraine but has its own legislature and constitution.
Russia is believed to be deploying military ships carrying troops in the disputed autonomous Crimea region of Ukraine, as Moscow continues to refuse to recognise the interim administration which has taken control of Kiev. Reports suggest the movement of Russia’s large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov, with at least 200 soldiers onboard, at the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s base at Sevastopol. The ship is said to be accompanied by at least four other vessels with an unknown number of Special Forces Troops onboard, sailing from the Russian port of Anapa to the Crimean/Ukrainian Sevastopol.
Among the complaints of the Venezuelans that have taken to the street by the tens of thousands over the past couple weeks is the government’s inability to stem high inflation. It’s easy to see why people are angry; official figures put the country’s annualized inflation rate at 56%, which is among the highest in the world. And there’s reason to believe even that high number is a drastic underestimate of Venezuela’s actual inflation rate. The problem with Venezuela’s official rate is that it doesn’t account for the country’s highly active black market, according to Johns Hopkins economics professor Steve Hanke.
Thailand’s army chief warned on Monday the country risks “collapse” unless it pulls back from escalating violence after attacks in recent days left three children dead in the kingdom’s worst political unrest since 2010. Twenty-one people have now been killed and more than 700 wounded in violence linked to almost four months of anti-government demonstrations. Protesters want to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and dilute the influence on Thai politics of her billionaire brother Thaksin, a former premier who lives in exile to avoid jail in Thailand for corruption.
For months now, protestors have gathered in the capitals of many developing nations—Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Cambodia, among others—in demonstrations united by some key features. In nearly all these places, protestors are pushing to oust presidents or prime ministers they claim are venal, authoritarian, and unresponsive to popular opinion. Nearly all these governments, no matter how corrupt, brutal, and autocratic, actually won election in relatively free polls. And in nearly all these countries the vast majority of demonstrators hail from cosmopolitan areas: Kiev, Bangkok, Caracas, Istanbul, and other cities.
Spain’s public debt rose to an unprecedented high of $1.317 trillion in 2013, or around 94 percent of GDP, according to Bank of Spain data on Monday, nearly three times as much as it was before the start of the crisis in 2008. The historical series showed that this was the highest level since records began, though it managed to come in slightly below the government’s target of 94.2 percent of GDP for last year. The figure was also an 8.7 percent increase on the previous year’s figure, the Bank of Spain said.
Foreign buyers of U.S. Treasury securities increased their holdings to a record in December even though the two largest holders of U.S. government debt — China and Japan — reduced their shares. The Treasury Department says total foreign holdings rose 1.4 percent in December to $5.79 trillion, surpassing the old record set in March of $5.73 trillion. Foreign holdings had fallen from April through July before rising again in August. China, the largest foreign buyer of Treasury debt, reduced its holdings to $1.27 trillion in December.
Frustrated and discouraged by the ever-shifting Cabinets that rarely deliver on their promises, reform-hungry Jordanians increasingly view the pandering monarch with a skeptical eye. And the global financial crisis, waves of refugees from neighboring Iraq and Syria and failed economic reforms have hit the country hard. Food prices have skyrocketed, economic growth has been halved and unemployment stands officially at 12 percent, and unofficially hovers around 30 percent. So far, public outrage has been limited to weekly Friday protests in cities such as Amman, Maan and Karak.
Speculation is swirling about the financial health of Brokbiznesbank, Ukraine’s 18th largest bank by assets, as lines of customers formed in front of its retail customer service department in Kyiv on February 11. This follows widespread reports the previous day about clients experiencing problems withdrawing money from ATM machines and a major client, Ukraine’s largest construction company Kyivmiskbud, switching to a state-owned bank. A bank failure, warn analysts, could mark the start of a shift to a full-blown crisis in Ukraine.
THE worsening political and economic circumstances in Ukraine has prompted the Fitch Ratings agency to downgrade Ukrainian debt from B to a pre–default level CCC. This is lower than Greece, and Fitch warns of future financial instability. “Intensification of political and economic stress is such that default on government debt becomes probable,” Fitch said in an e-mail. On the brink of default, the Ukrainian economy has taken a further beating as protests drag on in the capital Kiev. Foreign debt is $140 billion, nearly 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Scores of bodies have been dumped in Iraq’s canals and palm groves in recent months, reminding terrified residents of the worst days of the country’s sectarian conflict and fueling fears that the stage is being set for another civil war. In the latest sign of the escalating attacks, the heads of three Sunnis were found Sunday in a market in northern Salaheddin province, while six Shiites were shot dead in the province after being questioned about their religious affiliation, officials said. The carnage has raised concerns that the Shiite militias that stalked members of the minority Sunni population in the dark days of 2006 and 2007 could be remobilizing.
An eventual escalation of tension in Bosnia might result in intervention of EU forces, a high official warned Sunday. Valentin Inzko, High Representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, told Austrian media that the situation in the country will be analyzed next Tuesday. “Austria will increase its troops there, but if it comes to escalation we would have to consider the intervention of EU forces. Currently, we do not have such intention,” Inzko said for the Austrian Kurier newspaper.
A senior Kremlin aide accused the United States on Thursday of arming Ukrainian “rebels” and, urging the Kiev government to put down what he called an attempted coup, warned Russia could intervene to maintain the security of its ex-Soviet neighbor. Sergei Glazyev, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin with responsibility for relations with Ukraine, told a newspaper that U.S. “interference” breached the 1994 treaty under which Washington and Moscow jointly guaranteed Ukraine’s security and sovereignty after Kiev gave up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal.
After being kidnapped on January 22, Dmytro Bulatov says he was kept blindfolded for eight days as his abductors beat him, sliced off part of his ear, drove nails through his hands, and finally left him for dead in a forest. Through the ordeal, he never once saw his captors. But he could hear them. And when he was finally returned to safety, Bulatov — one of the leaders of Automaidan, the automotive flank of Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests — said on January 31 that his captors had spoken “with a Russian accent.”
China’s smog is visible, and vexes the urban rich. But attempts to fix the looming “airpocalypse” may be exacerbating another acute risk: water. The trouble is that China is a dry country. Coal facilities, including new plants, are often located in its parched northern provinces. And coal is thirsty: it must be washed before use, while turning it into electricity commonly relies on steam. One solution to urban air pollution, converting coal into “synthetic natural gas” and piping it into cities to be burned, uses 12 times as much water as regular coal power, according to the World Resources Institute.
In a televised announcement late on Friday, a member of Ukraine’s SBU secret service, Maxim Lenko, said evidence gathered in a December raid on the offices of the opposition Fatherland party indicated that the opposition had instigated the protests, which led to the resignation of the prime minister and cabinet earlier in the week. The news agendy Interfax quoted Lenko as claiming that the opposition had also provoked police violence against the demonstrators. Four people were killed when the protests turned violent last weekend, three of which were victims of gunshot wounds.
The financial media was buzzing yesterday after a BoA/Merrill Lynch report called the Jan. 27 bailout of a 3 billion yuan ($465 million) investment product in danger of going bust a “Bear Stearns moment.” The report’s author, rates strategist Bin Gao, was referring to the US Federal Reserve’s Mar. 2008 rescue of the investment bank Bear Stearns, which had saddled itself with mortgage-backed securities. If you accept that analogy, the implication is that China’s “Lehman moment” —the equivalent collapse of a much larger bank or investment product—is nigh.
A shockwave is looming in China’s multi trillion dollar “shadow banking” system, with an unprecedented default only days away on a $500 million investment product sold to hundreds of people. Staff at China’s biggest bank ICBC pushed the “Credit Equals Gold #1 Trust Product” by promising returns of 10 percent a year, far more than traditional deposits, investors say.The situation is a test case for cleaning up the risky “shadow banking” system in the world’s second-largest economy.
Afghanistan would slide into a bloody civil war if the US-led coalition forces walked away without cutting a peace deal with a medley of resistance groups in the war-torn country, says an elusive Afghan warlord and former prime minister. The warning from Engineer Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – who also heads the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) — came as foreign forces prepare to pull out after fighting a bloody and costly war for 12-plus years. So far, the United States and its allies have failed to make peace with the Taliban or any other militia.
The peso sank 3.5 percent to a record low of 7.14 per dollar yesterday, according to Banco de la Nacion Argentina, and has plunged more than 25 percent in the past 12 months. That’s its worst selloff since the devaluation that followed the default. Currencies from only three countries in the world have fallen more: war-torn Syria, Iran and Venezuela. Power outages like the one that sunk Kanaza’s shop into darkness are becoming more frequent, deepening the economic slump, after the nation’s grid atrophied under a decade of government-set electricity price controls.
Thailand’s beleaguered ruling party is banking on snap polls on February 2 to renew its mandate. But hope is fast fading that an election – if indeed it happens – will resolve the country’s bitter political stand-off. There is massive pressure on the government – from protesters in the streets of Bangkok, and from the Election Commission itself – to delay the February 2 polls over fears of an inadequate result. The commission has petitioned the Constitutional Court for an opinion on who has the authority to postpone the election.
In homes and offices, many more people were frustrated in front of computers, not being able to gain access to their accounts because of server overloads. “It’s national chaos. The incident itself should never have occurred in the first place regardless of any excuses,” Lee said. The cardholders of three credit card firms hit hard by Korea’s largest financial data theft case rushed Tuesday to cancel or reissue their customers’ credit and debit cards. Some 20 million people had information stolen from KB Kookmin Card, NH NongHyup Card and Lotte Card.
Untenable debt burdens, snowballing youth unemployment and water crises rank as leading concerns for global experts. The World Economic Forum released its ‘Global Risks 2014’ report after surveying 700 people, including top business leaders. It assessed 31 risks, but the following risks emerge as urgent threats for many people across the world in 2014: Advanced economies remain in danger of fiscal crises, sparked by extremely high debt burdens, rising interest rates and inflationary pressures.
The risk of Thailand defaulting on its debt is the highest since August as anti-government protests prompt money managers to sell the nation’s assets. The cost of protecting the nation’s debt soared after investors including Wells Fargo Inc. pulled more than $4 billion from Thai stocks and bonds since Oct. 31, as rallies clogged up Bangkok roads and clashes claimed eight lives. Pacific Investment Management Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Kokusai Asset Management Co. reduced debt holdings before protests first erupted in late October, regulatory filings show.
George Osborne will today deliver a stark warning to Britain’s European partners that the UK will leave the EU unless it embarks on whole-scale economic and political reform. The chancellor’s comments come as the Tory leadership tries to regain the initiative on Europe, after 95 MPs signed a letter calling for the dismantling of the core principles of the EU. In a speech to a conference organised by the pro-reform Open Europe thinktank and the Fresh Start group of Tory MPs, Osborne will say: “There is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline. Our determination is clear: to deliver the reform, and then let the people decide.”
In 2007, Iceland was celebrated for attaining the world’s highest standard of living according to the U.N.’s annual Human Development Index report. In less than a decade, the tiny North Atlantic island had transformed from a traditional fishing and tourism-based economic backwater into a finance and banking powerhouse, rocketing the country’s wealth and living standards to enviable new heights. Sadly, Iceland’s economic boom was an illusion based on a reckless credit and asset bubble that led to a terrifying financial crisis when it popped in 2008.
The Japanese government has two to three years to curb expenditures or face a possible crisis, according to Robert Feldman, the head of Japan economic research at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co. The government is doubling the nation’s 5 percent sales tax in two steps from this year, as a more than 4 percent jump in welfare expenditures and debt servicing costs next fiscal year is set to outpace revenue growth, according to the Ministry of Finance budget plan.
Ugur Bayraktutan, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), is one of the opposition politicians demanding that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make public his family’s ties to Saudi Arabian businessman Yasin al-Qadi. Within a month, Erdogan must reply to the request. Bayraktutan wants to know whether Bilal Erdogan actually met with al-Qadi, as the media have reported. “Al-Qadi was here illegally, we have photos to prove it,” Bayraktutan told DW. US authorities list al-Qadi as a supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network – an accusation the Saudi businessman rejects.
The situation in Iraq’s western Sunni-majority Anbar province is both confused and confusing but could lead to an all-out Sunni rebellion against the Shia-dominated government headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The latest trouble between Baghdad and Anbar began with the arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani, an opposition parliamentarian on December 28. Security men stormed his home in Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, wounding Alwani and killing his brother and five body guards. On December 30, army and special operations units moved into Ramadi to dismantle a year-old protest camp located on the outskirts of the restive city.
China’s interbank lending rate has hit its highest level since June, despite regulators’ attempts to calm concerns over a potential cash crunch. The seven-day repurchase rate rose to as much as 9% on Friday, even though China’s central bank made an emergency capital injection the day before. The rate is a key gauge of how much is available in short-term funds for the country’s banks to lend to one another. The turmoil caused China’s benchmark stock index to fall by more than 2%. Chinese stocks have posted nine days of declines, amounting to their worst losing streak in nearly two decades.
Balochistan being an Achilles heel of Pakistan. And not only a largest province of Pakistan but also in the entire South Asia, having a great geo-strategic location with huge energy and minerals resources, having a deep sea port at Gawadar but remained a sparsely populated and backward province. Ever since Pakistan’s independence, Baluchistan has been under focus due to a host of reason and it’s political, social and security situation remained fragile. The main factors behind this unrest in Baluchistan are diversified standpoints of Nationalists / socialist groups, tribal sardars, prevailing sense of deprivation, poverty / unemployment, exploitation of resources by others.
European finance ministers have reached the basis of an agreement to wind down failing banks and share the costs, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told CNBC following a 16-hour marathon negotiating session in Brussels. The agreement is expected to begin with a Cyprus-style “bail-in” process in which major depositors in failing banks are tapped first in an effort to support the lender. Then, if more cash is needed, national resolution funds would be used. And if further funds are needed, these would be pooled from across the region over the next five to 10 years, forming the basis of a common fund.
Looting and robbing spread to several areas of the Argentine city of Cordoba on Tuesday evening and night following a walkout from the police in the midst of a conflict over pay and other benefits. The Supermarkets association has anticipated its members will not open their stores on Wednesday unless police forces are back patrolling the streets of Argentina’s third largest city which is also an important manufacturing pole. The conflict started after negotiations for salary increases with the provincial government broke down and the police force decided to go on strike.
As the political crisis in Ukraine continues, its severely depleted central bank reserves are putting it at serious risk of a balance-of-payments crunch, its metrics looking worse than almost every big emerging economy. With demonstrators blockading government buildings in protest at President Viktor Yanukovich’s rejection of closer ties with the European Union, the creaking economy is coming under growing pressure. Based on a comparison of monthly import needs and maturing short-term debt, Ukraine’s reserves compare poorly with most of its peers, according to data released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch
The EU is supporting Libyan border security troops near Ghadames, but local members of the military complain of unclear structures and insufficient equipment. They put the blame on the government in Tripoli. The Libyan army is still growing into its tasks more than two years after the revolution against Gadhafi, and it has had only limited success in integrating former rebels. Effectively controlling the country’s borders remains beyond the army’s capabilities. “Large segments of the 1,000-kilometer long border to Algeria are nearly inaccessible.
It’s a familiar scenario: a man, usually a political, security or military figure, emerges from a location he regularly frequents—home, mosque, work, supermarket—and is promptly shot down by gunmen, or turns on his car’s ignition only for it to explode. Said gunmen will then promptly escape, most likely on a motorcycle—or, in the case of a car bomb, watch, satisfied, from afar. Yemen is now at a stage where some assassinations, especially of low-ranking security or military figures, are barely news any more.
Troops have been deployed in the Thai capital Bangkok to support riot police shielding official buildings from some 30,000 anti-government protesters. Tear gas and water cannon were fired as protesters tried to breach barricades outside Government House. Sunday is the eighth day of protests aimed at unseating Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has appeared on television, calling for a general strike starting on Monday. The protesters had declared Sunday “V-Day” of what they termed a “people’s coup”.
“They told us, ‘You are Bengalis – there is no such thing as the Rohingya,’” the imam recalled. “They said, ‘If you claim that you are Rohingya, you will be thrown into the sea.’” We were speaking in one of the internally displaced person (IDP) camps reserved for the Rohingya – Burma’s persecuted Muslim minority – near the city of Sittwe in Burma’s troubled Rakhine state. Last year, mob violence in the area left hundreds dead and well over 100,000 homeless, the vast majority of them Rohingya.
Ukraine had dodged a “death spiral” by protecting its eastern trade flows. Putin has been tightening the screws for months, blocking shipments of goods and targeting heavy industry in the eastern region that depends on the Russian market. A freeze on imports of railway carriages has hit 80 per cent of Ukraine’s carriage output. Another victim is Roshen chocolate, owned by Petro Poroshenko, a champion of the EU cause in Ukraine’s parliament. Roshen sales in Russia have been banned for “toxic impurities”. The guerrilla warfare tactics have pushed Ukraine to the brink of financial collapse.
Britain said Wednesday it was reviewing its military presence off Gibraltar following a lengthy stand-off between the Royal Navy and a Spanish ship, but denied it was resorting to “gunboat diplomacy”. Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds said he wanted to de-escalate the situation but would not put up with “bullying and intimidation” of the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean. Britain summoned the Spanish ambassador on Tuesday to explain the most serious incursion for months in the waters off Gibraltar, which Spain has long claimed as its own.
A secret document leaked to Le Figaro newspaper explains why President François Hollande caves in to the slightest sign of street protest. “Throughout [French] territory . . . society is in the grip of tension, exasperation and anger,” says the ministry of the interior’s monthly summary of reports from 101 prefects, dated October 25th. The monthly reports are usually couched in careful, and sanitised language, which makes the blatant warning to the interior minister and president all the more alarming. “The legitimacy of tax” is now widely questioned, it notes.
A deadly assault by Shi’ite Houthi rebels on a Salafi Islamic school planted in their mountain heartland could ignite wider sectarian conflict in Yemen, where instability has already helped al Qaeda militants to take root. The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, have bombarded the sprawling Dar al-Hadith seminary in Dammaj village for two weeks, killing at least 100 people. Political rivalries may have helped to start the violence, but the struggle over a Salafi outpost deep in Houthi territory is also part of a regional contest between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
In the rocky, mountainous area of western Libya, the Amazigh people – a large and substanital minority – are staging protests for self-rule. Their calls for autonomy follow the heels of the declaration of self-government made by ethnic groups in east Libya. The symbolic move is likely to anger the central government in Tripoli, which is trying to reopen ports blockaded by eastern rebel groups and tribes angered that they aren’t receiving what they deem to be a fair share of profits from oil extracted from the resource-rich east.
Puerto Rico’s is an overdue collision with reality. The territory’s finances have long been stretched. San Juan has run up debts of about $70bn, not far short of its $100bn gross domestic product. Many US states have been wrestling with their finances in recent years, and the island’s problems – which combine a struggling economy, bloated state spending and a terrifying entitlement overhang – do not look unfamiliar. In San Juan’s case, however, they are writ extremely large.
The 2014 budget unveiled last week by tiny East Timor is a $1.5bn spending plan funded almost exclusively – 95 percent – by lucrative oil and gas revenues. One of the fastest-growing budgets in the world in recent years, it ballooned from $64m in 2004 to $604m in 2009.
That the budget depends on a single, finite resource that could be depleted in a generation has some worrying the country may fall victim to the same “resource curse” that has seen other developing countries lose their wealth to inexperience, mismanagement and corruption.
Security in Sana’a has deteriorated since popular unrest pushed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2011. Dozens of intelligence and security officials have been assassinated, al-Qaeda continues to attack government targets and Shiite-Muslim Houthi rebels, who are fighting Sunni Islamists in the north, are encamped in the city. “Yemen is slipping into chaos,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said by phone. “Assassinations of intelligence figures and threats to foreigners are rising.”
The possibility of a new “gas war” between Russia and Ukraine inched closer on Tuesday, as the Russian state energy giant Gazprom complained that Kiev had outstanding debts of over half a billion pounds and demanded swift payment. Gazprom’s concern comes a month before Ukraine is due to sign up for closer ties with the European Union, a deal that has infuriated the Kremlin. The complaint brought back memories of crises in 2006 and 2009 in which Russia turned off the gas to Ukraine, leaving many European nations that rely on pipelines passing through the country without energy in the middle of winter.
The tax inspectors swept into this picturesque village in Crete during the middle of a saint’s day celebration recently, moving from restaurant to restaurant demanding receipts and financial records. Soon, customers annoyed by the holiday disruption confronted them. Pushing, shoving and angry words followed, and eventually the frightened inspectors were forced to flee.”People are so angry and so poor,” said Nikolis Geniatakis, who has run his restaurant here on the main square for the last 34 years and who watched the confrontation from across the street.
What the EU’s founders in the 1950s intended as “ever closer union” now risks going in the opposite direction: Britain is threatening to secede; the euro, battered by the four-year debt crisis, remains at risk of splintering; anti-euro forces are advancing in France, the EU’s heartland; separatists are pushing to burst the U.K., Belgium and Spain. Economic lethargy combined with a deepening political quagmire and mounting debt load as leaders struggle to tame the legacy of the financial crisis risk condemning Europe to lag further behind emerging powers like China.
The law, already passed by the cabinet on October 10, has yet to be officially ratified by the interim president, Adly Mansour. The measure would ban any protest not approved in advance by the police, and would allow the interior minister and senior officials to postpone or cancel protests at their discretion. It would also establish “protest-free zones” around state buildings, where pitched battles have been waged between Morsi’s supporters and detractors. “The regime that came [to power] by protest is making laws against protest.”
Published this week, China and Taiwan: Possible Storm Signals for Cross-Straits Relations Underscore Need to Provide for Taiwan’s Defense says the growing economic relationship between China and Taiwan has served to promote political dialogue and strengthen trade ties. However, Cheng argues that a “militarily overwhelming People’s Liberation Army [PLA]” would be able to intimidate and coerce Taiwan which would in turn have political and economic implications. Two public statements highlight the potential return of tension to the region, he says.
Budget reductions could render the Army at “high risk to meet even one major war,” according to documents obtained by USA TODAY, a warning the Army is sounding because it sees another war as inevitable before long. The dire assessment by top Army officials to Pentagon leaders provides a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes struggle for the future of the military in a time of declining budgets. The Army provided its assessment as each of the services is conducting a four-year scrub of its strategy and the resources needed to meet it, a process called the Quadrennial Defense Review.
As the U.S. struggles to avert a debt default, Asia’s policymakers have trillions of reasons to believe they may be shielded from the latest financial storm brewing across the Pacific. From South Korea to Pakistan, Asia’s central banks are estimated to have amassed some $5.7 trillion in foreign exchange reserves excluding safe-haven Japan, much of it during the last five years of rapid money printing by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Data this week showed those reserves continued to pile up, with countries having added an estimated $85.2 billion in the July-September quarter, according to data for 12 Asian countries.
The reported abduction of Libya’s prime minster early Thursday has exposed the shortcomings in the country’s security sector, but NATO and Libya are yet to come to terms on a 5-month-old request from the country for assistance aimed at bolstering its defenses. “I can confirm that Libyan authorities have requested NATO assistance to build or reform the security sector,” Rasmussen said. “We have been exploring that request for quite some time and we are still looking into it.”
World community is waiting with fainting heart for 2014, when NATO will start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. The U.S. air base leaves the International Manas Airport at the same time; financial flows to the budget of Kyrgyzstan will reduce along with increasing threat of destabilization in the region. Central Asian countries can not cope with the threats coming from Afghanistan without the help of a strategic and influential partner. However, the highest echelon of Kyrgyz power stiffly speaks about the organization as if it does not understand its importance.
In Britain, the words “East of Suez” hold a special meaning. In 1968, post-WWII weariness with imperial adventures, a deficit of cash and political will and anticolonial hostility forced acceptance of a greatly diminished world role. Specifically, London retreated from positions ‘East of Suez,’ i.e. beyond the Suez Canal, leaving it to America to keep postcolonial order in a Cold War world. Now looking at the Arc of Instability from North Africa to Pakistan, it is difficult to escape the question: Is the United States approaching its own East of Suez moment?
That designation and the Somalia and Libya raids highlight how governmental breakdown and increased lawlessness across a swath of Africa. Increasingly the wide geographical region is referred to in congressional testimony and reports by Pentagon officials and diplomats as an “arc of instability” – a designation that caught on in January when Islamist militants associated with AQIM threatened to topple the government of Mali, while others raided a natural gas operation in southern Algeria, killing 40 foreign workers.
Yemeni troops stormed Wednesday a military base overrun by suspected al-Qaida militants, and a senior officer said that the government had regained control of the compound after a three-day standoff. It was not clear if soldiers reportedly taken hostage by the militants at the beginning of the siege have survived. Maj. Gen. Mohsen Nasser told the Associated Press that all the militants were killed in the operation, which followed three hours of intense clashes. He said hostages are believed to be freed, but he didn’t have a count of the number held.
If you thought the US’s fiscal cliff—that combination of rising taxes and slashed fiscal spending that scared investors and shook the economy in December 2012—was bad, have a gander at what Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, faces. He entered the job with a mandate to grow the economy and escape deflation. But before Abe took over, the government passed a tax hike on consumption to show that the Japanese government is serious about shrinking its ¥1 quadrillion ($10.3 trillion) in public debt.
Meanwhile in Sudan: Fuel riots, a hiring spree of ex-Soviet air mercenaries and preparations for war
The escalating fuel riots in Khartoum, and increasingly in other cities in Sudan, serve as a stark reminder of the inherent fragility and instability of the country. The riots were sparked by the spiraling prices of all fuel products following the abolition of subsidies and the growing shortages of all fuel products. Moreover, the recurring shortages of fuel have resulted in shortages of food and other products and goods brought into Khartoum from both the Red Sea ports and the countryside. Within a few days, the riots became the worst since the 1989 riots which led to the military coup which brought Omar Bashir to power.
The Swiss-based ‘bank of central banks’ says a hunt for yield is luring investors en masse into high-risk instruments, “a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis”. This is happening just as the US Federal Reserve prepares to wind down stimulus and starts to drain dollar liquidity from global markets, an inflexion point that is fraught with danger and could go badly wrong. “This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the Bank for International Settlement’s former chief economist.
Ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s massive reorganisation of the cabinet, in which he gave key posts to close allies, aims to ensure he has control over his succession next year, analysts and media say. The reshuffle on Wednesday, the largest since 1990, saw nearly a third of ministers lose their jobs and came after Bouteflika had put a confidante as head of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and trimmed the sails of the powerful DRS military intelligence agency. “It’s a war cabinet to prepare for the presidential election” in April 2014, political analyst Rachid Grim said.
Ever since 1990, when it was created out of the merger of independent states in the north and south, Yemen has been a republic. Yet if delegates at reconciliation talks have their way, the Republic of Yemen soon could be no more. Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, said this week that the delegates had agreed “in principle” to adopt a federal system in this country of 25 million people. Under such system, political power would devolve to regions, governorates and states, with the central government retaining control over such vital portfolios as defence and the country’s currency.
The Libyan Army has deployed a new anti-terror unit made up of 2 000 special forces soldiers across the capital Tripoli to improve security in the city.
According to the Libyan Herald, the Joint Force (JF) is made up of fighters drawn from the ministries of defence and interior and is equipped with 300 armed ‘technical’ fighting vehicles and 21 armoured personnel carriers. It is charged with conducting regular patrols to counter potential security threats after a spate of bomb attacks and shootings targeting embassies and diplomatic staff in the past two years.Libya has been beset by insecurity due to infighting among fractious militia alliances which were formed to fight strongman Muammar Gaddafi during the 2011 revolution.
China’s Cosco, which runs a big part of the port of Piraeus, has already stated its interest and wants to expand its presence to take advantage of Greece’s geographical advantage as a gateway to Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. The goal is to make Greece a gateway for the transportation of goods to Central and Eastern Europe. Cosco already has a deal in place with Hewlett Packard and acquiring Trainose is seen as an important potential booster for the development of the Greek company. Russian Railways also appears to have a strong interest, aiming to create a strong “slot” in Greece that would enable it to combine sea and rail transport.
Underlying growing instability is the Egyptian state’s increasing inability to contain the devastating social impacts of interconnected energy, water and food crises over the last few decades. Those crises, already afflicting other regional states like Yemen and Syria, will unravel prevailing political orders with devastating consequences—unless urgent structural transformation to address those crises becomes a priority. The upshot is that Egypt’s meltdown represents the culmination of long-standing trends that, without a change of course, can only escalate with permanent repercussions across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and beyond.
The Indian subcontinent is moving toward becoming an arena for a Third World War. The changing world situation, sharpening contradictions, and the shifting balance of power are making it likely that the Indian subcontinent will become an arena for a Third World War. The major factors which are likely to push the subcontinent in this direction are: the decline of the American and western powers, the re-emergence of Russia as a world power, the widening gap between Europe and America, the re-emergence of Japan as a military power, the rise of secular forces in the Maghreb (Arab countries), and the growing differences between America and the South American countries.
For two years, the conversation on Egypt centered on how to build a democracy. Suddenly the discussion has turned much darker, with some wondering aloud whether the largest Arab nation is hurtling toward civil war. The bloody crackdown by Egypt’s security forces has raised the specter of a protracted conflict pitting the military against the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful political force. Egypt’s escalating crisis is far too volatile for any declarative statements, analysts say. But here are three possible scenarios that could play out
As the army ruthlessly crushes the Muslim Brotherhood on the streets of Cairo, having swept away its elected president, Egypt is being painted as the graveyard of the Arab Spring and of Islamist hopes of shaping the region’s future. This week’s bloody drama has sent shockwaves out of Egypt, the political weathervane and cultural heart of the Arab world. The effect on the region of the army’s power grab will not be uniform, because while countries such as Egypt are locked in a battle over identity, other states, from Syria to Yemen, and Libya to Iraq, are in an existential struggle for survival.
Source: Reuters Greece will lift restrictions on home foreclosures to allow banks to recover bad loans, the finance minister said on Saturday, adding fuel to a row that may test the cohesion of its fragile coalition government. Cash-strapped banks are currently barred from auctioning most first homes owned by delinquent borrowers, under a temporary measure introduced […]
Five Indian soldiers and one Pakistani civilian lie dead, victims of skirmishes on the disputed Kashmir border. But the real target of the violence may well be Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as Pakistan’s military and intelligence services try to thwart the newly elected leader’s aspirations for peace with India. “The intention here is to sabotage the peace process,” said Michael Kugelman, an expert on South Asia affiliated with the Woodrow Wilson Center. “This is a sad reality of India-Pakistan relations — whenever things are looking up, a saboteur tries to send all progress up in smoke.” The region has been on the boil since five Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush in the Poonch sector of India-administered Kashmir last week.
Egyptian security forces today moved to oust pro-Morsi supporters from two sit-in protests denouncing the former President’s removal from power, leaving scores dead and hundreds injured in Cairo. The Egyptian President Adly Mansour has announced a month-long state of emergency in reaction. As conflicting body counts emanated from both of the warring parties – with the health ministry claiming 95 killed and the Muslim Brotherhood claiming thousands – reporters on the ground have confirmed a body count of at least 120 .
The special session of the Bahraini National Assembly held on Sunday Jul. 28 was a spectacle of venom, a display of vulgarity, and an unabashed nod to increased dictatorship. Calling the Shia “dogs”, as one parliamentarian said during the session, which King Hamad convened, the Al-Khalifa have thrown away any hope for national reconciliation and dialogue. The 22 recommendations approved during the session aimed at giving the regime pseudo-legal tools to quash dissent and violate human and civil rights with impunity. All in the name of fighting “terrorism”.
The massive street demonstrations that roiled Brazil last month have eased but more radical groups are coming to the fore and resorting to violence. Late Tuesday, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse about 50 extremists who went on the rampage in Sao Paulo, ransacking banks and other businesses. The violence followed a peaceful rally by 300 people who railed against Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and expressed solidarity with Rio protesters seeking the impeachment of Governor Sergio Cabral accused of corruption and arrogance.
Dow Jones Market Watch is warning of major problems emanating from the Eurozone. This comes amid the latest data from Spain where the economy contracted yet again, this time by 1.7 percent in the second quarter on a year-on-year basis. More problems were reported out of Greece, Italy and Germany. In an article today, Michael Casey, managing editor for the Americas at DJ FX Trader, said:
“…you’d think the threat of a euro-zone financial meltdown would force policymakers into a tough, unified solution.
There are concerns as the political upheaval grows, elements of the former regime of Zein Abidine Ben Ali, driven from power in January 2011, retain considerable influence and maintain ties with the labor unions and the internal security forces and could try to stage a comeback.
The cause of Tunisia’s slide toward anarchy was the assassination Thursday of secular opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi, a member of the 217-seat parliament who represented the central city of Sidi Bouzid, his hometown.
Egypt’s army is recasting the country’s political drama, giving a popular general the starring role in a change with echoes of the past that could undermine democracy in the Arab world. Even though Sisi has a popular mandate, the army’s manoeuvring, coupled with the resurgence of the security apparatus, raises questions about the prospects for democracy in the Arab world’s biggest nation. In one incident alone, 80 Mursi supporters were killed in the streets of Cairo on Saturday.