Italy and France were the major euro area countries put on the European Commission’s economic “watch-list” over fears about persistently high debt and deficit levels. The two countries were among 14 nations deemed to have “macro-economic imbalances” in their economy by the EU executive in a series of reports on 17 countries published on Wednesday. Italy “must address its very high level of public debt and weak external competitiveness,” the commission said,
Depositors wanting to withdraw money from a rural bank in eastern China’s prosperous Jiangsu province ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday found the doors locked, their money gone and employees offering a simple explanation. “We’ve lent out all the money. There’s none left,” an employee told Reuters, repeating the explanation given to depositors weeks earlier. Word had spread that at least three rural cooperatives were running short on funds.
A Kremlin aide was quoted on Tuesday as saying that if the United States were to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Moscow might be forced to drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks. Sergei Glazyev, who is often used by the authorities to stake out a hardline stance but does not make policy, was cited by RIA news agency as saying Moscow could recommend that all holders of U.S. treasuries sell them if Washington freezes the U.S.. accounts of Russian businesses and individuals.
South Korea adopted a quasi- quantitative easing (QE) under the three-year economic innovation plan to stabilize mortgage loan market, whose fast growth was feared to dent private consumption. The Finance Ministry, Bank of Korea (BOK) and Financial Services Commission (FSC) on Thursday unveiled a joint plan to speed up the restructuring of household debts, which topped the psychologically dangerous level of 1,000 trillion won (about 940 billion U.S. dollars) last year. The plan came as part of follow-up actions to the three-year economic innovation plan, announced by President Park Geun-hye
The Greek port of Piraeus could become one of Europe’s top five container-shipping hubs as the government spurs logistics activities in a bid to kick-start economic growth, said Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis. Piraeus, now the 11th-largest container-shipping port in the European Union, is expanding as China-based Cosco Pacific Ltd. (1199) operates one of two piers, builds a third and prepares to offer cargo-train shipping to multinational companies. “Piraeus could become one of the four to five biggest ports in Europe very soon,” Hatzidakis said in a Feb. 20 interview in Brussels.
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.
With more than $50 billion in U.S. exports in FY 2012, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is one of the satellite industry’s largest supporters. As one of the country’s fastest growing industries, satellite accounts for a total of 60 percent of all exports financed by the Ex-Im Bank. On Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Washington Space Business Roundtable event, Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of the Ex-Im Bank spoke about the effect that the satellite industry has on the United States economy.
The US government has taken another important step in helping to reintegrate Myanmar (referred to as Burma for official purposes) into the global economy. On 6 February 2014, the Export-Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im Bank) announced the opening of financial support for qualified short-term and medium-term US export sales to Myanmar. Over the past 18 months, the US has substantially removed sanctions on business with Myanmar and has expanded economic and trade support on a step-by-step basis in response to political and economic reforms.
China’s holdings of US Treasurys dropped to the lowest levels in two years after China dumped $47.8 billion in paper—equal to about 3.6% of its Treasury holdings as of November—bringing its total holdings to $1.27 trillion. Not that this should come as a shock. Yi Gang, a deputy governor of China’s central bank, hinted at the move when he announced in late November that the country no longer benefits from increasing its foreign reserves.
Though this news is likely to stoke fears of a US bond market sell-off, it’s way too early to judge whether this is a fluke or a new PBoC strategy.
Russian energy giant Gazprom provided a record share of 29.9% of gas supplies to the European and Turkish markets in 2013. Gazprom broke a record set in 2011 of 150 billion cubic meters of gas, or a share of 27%, according to reports of Interfax, as cited by dnevnik.bg. The data is provided in a prospectus published due to a new Eurobond issue by Gazprom. The document cites an official evaluation of Gazprom of the European gas market in 2013, which amounted to 451 bcm, of which Gazprom supplied 161.5 bcm.
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.
If the Alliance were a country, it would be the world’s eighth-largest economy and seventh-largest exporter. Amid all the bad news in the region, the presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru met with little fanfare in Cartagena last week to seal an economic pact launched in 2012. They call their project the Pacific Alliance, and it will soon include Costa Rica and possibly several other countries. The four founding members are the most successful economies in Latin America; they boast the region’s highest economic-growth rates and lowest inflation rates.
Last week saw an uptick in the number of reported IT problems, slip-ups, and complications. Among the more mind-boggling was the revelation that Fifth Third National Bank of Cincinnati informed its customers last week via a letter that, “We inadvertently reported that you filed bankruptcy to the following [four major U.S.] credit bureau reporting agencies.”What the Fifth Third National Bank’s letter didn’t tell its customers was that their “bankruptcy” status was sent to the credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, and Innovis last October because of an erroneous software update to its IT systems.
Syria’s new 25-year energy deal with Russia, a key ally of embattled President Bashar Assad, could open the way for Moscow’s eventual move into the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean. The Dec. 25 agreement gives Russia’s state-controlled Soyuzneftegas exclusive exploration, development and production rights over 850 square miles of Syria’s Exclusive Economic Zone in an area known as Block 2 roughly between the coastal cities of Banias and Tartous. The deal gives the Russians, one of the world’s leading energy producers, their first real foothold in the Levant Basin, considered to be rich in natural gas.
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.
If it is carefully set up and well managed, the AIIB should be able to attract shareholding from Asia Pacific governments committed to their new APEC Framework on Connectivity, as well as from some private sources. If APEC governments on both sides of the Pacific participate in the new infrastructure development bank, the AIIB could be transformed into an Asia Pacific Infrastructure Investment Bank, which could invest in projects to upgrade connectivity among all Asia Pacific economies.
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 Egyptian army controls almost 45 per cent of the country’s economy, German newspaper Die Welt claimed.In a report entitled “The Egyptian army is Egypt’s real economic power” the newspaper said following January 25 revolution which ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the military junta led by 75 years old Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi took over power and worked with all of its strength to protect its lucrative economic interests that made the military establishment a business empire and one of the most important factors influencing the country’s economy.
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.
The post office isn’t known as the most efficient or reliable business in America. It can’t run its operations at a profit, it’s got serious financial troubles, and just try mailing a package on a Saturday without waiting in line for 30 minutes. The idea, most recently floated in a white paper by the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general and supported in theory by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,estimates that the money-losing agency could make $8.9 billion a year by offering limited banking services to the tens of millions of people who are not served by traditional banks.
China appears to be buying an expensive insurance policy for natural gas imports from Central Asia with its plans to build a pipeline through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006, China has invested heavily in developing gas imports from Turkmenistan, opening its Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CAGP) across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the end of 2009. So far, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has built two strands of the CAGP and plans to complete a third on the 2,000-kilometer (1,242-mile) route to Xinjiang this year.
A so-called bad bank is also a semi-technical term that describes a special division at a financial institution that happens to be packed with toxic assets, unwanted loans or entire business units hived off from a banking group’s “core” operations. Banks euphemistically dub these units “non-core,” “non-strategic” or a host of other names, steering investors away from considering them part of a bank’s future (and generating increasingly impenetrable earning reports in the process).
Iran and Iraq – at least theoretically – hold considerable reserves of crude oil and jointly have the potential to match Riyadh’s crude output capacity. The US’ EIA says that Saudi Arabia has a proven oil reserve of about 267 billion barrels, far ahead of Iran’s 151 billion barrels worth of reserves and Iraq’s 143 billion barrels of proven reserves. But combined, Iran and Iraq would have the capacity to possibly shift the balance of power, as this could challenge Riyadh’s capacity to stabilize the markets. And this carries ominous consequences too – for the global crude markets – some are now arguing.
A bill being debated in Brussels would force UK citizens to disclose ‘reams’ of private, financial information on a public register New legislation planned in Brussels is set to heap fresh costs and paperwork on families’ financial planning, as well as leaving their affairs open to unwanted public scrutiny. A European law is being drafted whose original aim was to prevent corporate money-laundering. The objective, supported by the UK, was to force companies to disclose on a register the money and other assets held inside trusts or equivalent legal arrangements.
Russia spent the end of last year battling the EU for control over Ukraine. But should the Kremlin have been paying more attention to what was going on its southern border instead? In the last three months, the Chinese have swept through Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia, buying up Russia’s backyard in a string of billion-dollar deals. However, instead of flying directly to Russia’s northern capital, President Xi went on a whirlwind tour of Central Asia. It was like a visit from Santa Claus as Xi distributed billions of dollars of deals along the way.
A surge in cocaine trafficking has transformed Guinea into West Africa’s latest drug hot spot, jeopardising President Alpha Conde’s efforts to rebuild state institutions after a military coup and attract billion of dollars in mining investment. Locals and Latin Americans long-accused of smuggling are operating freely in the country, some with high-level protection from within Conde’s administration. Counter-narcotics agents from the United States and other countries, meanwhile, concentrated on smugglers in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, a tiny former Portuguese colony dubbed by crime experts Africa’s first “narco-state”.
Land-locked Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world, but it has one thing in abundance: access to the massive Mekong River. The country’s hydropower potential has earned it the nickname “the Battery of Asia” and made it a magnet for investment from its neighbors: Thailand, southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy; Vietnam, a strategic Communist ally since the 1970s; and China, which is writing checks that put the rest to shame. Guan Huabing, Beijing’s ambassador to Laos, announced today (Jan. 30) that China’s cumulative investment in Laos now stands at $5.1 billion, edging out Thailand and Vietnam.
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.
Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia’s grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. “We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth,” Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference. Iraq’s intention to challenge Saudi Arabia’s status as the “swing producer” in the OPEC cartel could see a dramatic fall in oil prices if Baghdad decides to break the group’s quotas and sell more of its crude on the open market.
The World Bank’s former chief economist wants to replace the US dollar with a single global super-currency, saying it will create a more stable global financial system. “The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,” Justin Yifu Lin told Bruegel, a Brussels-based policy-research think tank. “The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.” Lin, now a professor at Peking University and a leading adviser to the Chinese government, said expanding the basket of major reserve currencies — the dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and pound sterling — will not address the consequences of a financial crisis.
The Chinese ambassador in the Belarusian capital in enjoying a special status. That’s because it’s unlikely any other country is prepared to make the kind of infrastructure investments here that China is planning. There are, for example, the Minsk International Airport, hidden behind the trees, and a highway that connects Minsk with Moscow in one direction and with Berlin in the other. High-speed rail is also planned, and there are rumors that 600,000 Chinese people will be migrating to Belarus. It’s not clear where the Chinese companies plan to market their wares, now that they will have a foothold just 300 kilometers from the EU and Russia.
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.
Britain could buy weapons from its former Cold War foe for the first time under a landmark defence treaty, the Telegraph can reveal. Defence chiefs are preparing to sign a deal that would see British defence companies working jointly on projects with the Russian arms industry. The treaty allows arms companies to buy kit from Russia – and Russian diplomatic sources said they hope one day to see British soldiers carrying the Red Army’s famous Kalashnikov rifle as a result. The deal covers ‘unclassified’ technology, so it is unlikely to allow co-operation on advanced battlefield equipment such as missile systems.
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.
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.
Members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum discussed setting up a common bank to finance joint investment projects, the new head of the group said. The bank was discussed at an earlier meeting of the 13-nation group and “has not been followed up recently,” Iran’s Mohammad Hossein Adeli said in interview today from the group’s headquarters in Qatar’s capital Doha. “The idea of helping each other in investment, in financing projects, and in long-term plans for investment is something that has already come up,” he said.
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.
The Turkish currency plunged to a new low against the dollar Thursday as the government grappled with its worst crisis in years, sparked by a corruption probe targeting top political and business figures. The lira hit 2.20 to the dollar, extending a slide that has seen it lose nine percent of its value since the scandal erupted in mid-December, and over 20 percent since May. Although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to curtail the probe, analysts are concerned the crisis could further savage Turkey’s economy.
The new year is only two weeks old and the loonie has already fallen 3.1%, making it the worst performing primary currency. The reasons for the decline are many. One is that the greenback has gained in value as the Federal Reserve starts to back away from its massive monthly bond purchases. But recent Canadian economic data has disappointed markets, particularly reports last week showing a rising trade deficit and December employment data showing the loss of 46,000 jobs. “People are starting to get the view the Bank of Canada is certainly not going to be raising rates, but might actually turn more dovish or even open the door to rate cuts,”
The British government has pledged that it will assume all U.K. government debt in the event Scotland votes for independence — a move meant to reassure markets ahead of what is likely to be heated campaign. The Treasury issued a paper Monday declaring that the “continuing” U.K. government will honour the contractual terms of the debt if Scotland votes to break away in a Sept. 18 referendum. And independent Scotland would still need to pay its “fair and proportionate share” of the U.K.’s outstanding stock of debt, the Treasury added.
Chile’s police special forces took the port of San Antonio by force yesterday to allow non-striking workers access to the San Antonio International Terminal. The move comes in response to strikes that began on Jan. 3 which have paralyzed trade from the major port, particularly for the fruit industry. San Antonio Port Workers Front (FTP) leader Julio Castillo said police had exercised excessive repression in the city to gain access. “A night of repression from the police special forces was experienced. People from STI don’t want to go to work but they are forced to,” Castillo was quoted as saying.
The troika of international lenders “held a gun to the head” of Cyprus and Portugal and showed little sympathy for social measures, an MEP looking into its work has said. “Both countries had very little room for manoeuvre in negotiating the terms of the bailouts. What they said basically was that ‘a gun was held to our head’, especially in Cyprus,” Juergen Klute, a left-wing German MEP, told this website. “And the troika had very little interest in social measures, they were only concerned about cutting back the deficit,” he added.
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.
Somaliland, the self-declared sovereign state in the north of Somalia, is finalising a multi-million dollar deal to develop a port at Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden. “After six months of negotiations, an agreement has been put on the table, which is highly exciting, from one of the world’s best port operators,” says human rights lawyer Jason McCue, who is assembling investors for the $2.5bn logistics hub. “The moment is there for Somaliland.” McCue declined to comment on the exact size of the port investment, saying only that it would be “hundreds of millions” and the largest foreign direct investment in Somaliland’s 22 year history.
Militias in eastern Libya said this week they would sell oil from seized facilities to foreign companies and protect arriving tankers, leaving government officials scrambling to keep the country unified as multiple groups demand autonomy and threaten to pull the country apart. As Tripoli has steadily lost ground in certain quadrants of the country’s east, rebels have put the nation at risk economically. Libyan oil revenue is already down because of the capture of three port terminals in August. The insecurity in the east and the disruptions in Libyan oil exportation are putting the government in a precarious position.
The stakes could not be higher for China, the largest investor in South Sudan’s oil sector, as fierce fighting continues between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of his former deputy. Some of the largest oil fields China operates are in areas controlled by fighters backing Riek Machar, the country’s vice-president until he was sacked in July. Oil production has already dropped by 20% since the onset of the conflict three weeks ago and more than 300 Chinese workers have been evacuated. The spectre of their Libyan experience also weighs heavily on the Chinese minds.
Although the garments are destined for the US, Europe and Japan, South Korean companies reap much of the financial gain, playing the role of middleman between laborers and Western brands. Korean-owned factories employ legions of low-wage workers, churning out clothing for fashion-hungry markets. Now, South Korea has emerged as a behind-the-scenes actor in the crackdown. The embassy admits that in recent weeks it has been running a backdoor campaign to protect Korean business interests. This campaign has included turning to the brutal and battle-hardened Cambodian military to implement security measures.
The idea of building private cities is a divisive one. Many of the country’s elite advanced the concept as something new to spur economic growth. The cities would facilitate foreign investment and development, which would reduce the influence of criminal networks. Those opposing the concept, however, variously rejected the proposition as a neoliberal gift to the rich, a continuation of oligarchic rule and a threat to democratic governance. These objections came in the context of economic policies that have exacerbated inequality, poverty and unemployment.
While the eurozone crisis in 2013 lingered in most countries, Germany seemed to be doing better than ever. It had low unemployment, high productivity and exports so strong that the European Commission asked it to do more to help ailing periphery countries in the single currency bloc. With Germany having to pay the lion’s share of any EU bailout, the German taxpayer stood and will continue to stay at the forefront of all policy decisions on the euro.The EU commission watered down a proposal to cap CO2 emissions and delayed its implementation until 2021 after Germany’s environment minister, with auto lobbyists snapping at his heels, said Nein.
Germany’s effort to making a show of military force in Africa are aimed not just at crisis resolution in conflict areas but also at promoting and marketing German weaponry. However, this effort is not independent from the French rivalry factor. When Germany achieved reunification in the 1990s, it began trying to play a more active role in the international arena. Germany’s interest in Africa has grown in recent years, in line with the continent’s increasing geo-economic and geopolitical importance. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, on the grounds of European Union integration, Germany based its Africa policy on those of the EU.
When the leaders of Mexico and China met last summer, there was much talk of the need to deepen trade between their nations. Down on Mexico’s Pacific coast, a drug gang was already making it a reality. The Knights Templar cartel, steadily diversifying into other businesses, became so successful at exporting iron ore to China that the Mexican Navy in November had to move in and take over the port in Lazaro Cardenas, a city that has become one of the gang’s main cash generators. This steelmaking center, drug smuggling hot spot and home of a rapidly growing container port in the western state of Michoacan occupies a strategic position on the Pacific coast, making it a natural gateway for burgeoning trade with China.
South America’s second largest country is under a state of emergency and teetering on martial law as a result of government inefficiency and Mother Nature joining forces. Power outages and water shortages are impacting thousands of individuals, with the young, infirm and elderly most at risk. The heat wave, which has averaged 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), has caused some people to be without water or electricity for as long as fourteen days. Because of the aging water system, which has not been upgraded since the ’80s, water is unavailable during power outages when electricity cannot reach the pumps.
Saudi Arabia is giving the Lebanese army $3 billion in aid, Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman said on Sunday, calling it the largest grant ever to the country’s armed forces. Some of the money was likely to be spent on weapons from France, Suleiman indicated in a televised address. One of the few institutions not overtaken by the sectarian divisions that plague the country, Lebanon’s army is ill-equipped to deal with internal militant groups, particularly the Shi’ite Muslim guerrilla and political movement Hezbollah. “His Highness suggested that weapons would be purchased from France, and quickly.”
Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25 billion, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it weather ‘Arab Spring’ protests. Four Gulf states — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE — agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism. Each of the four countries has committed $1.25 billion to Morocco for the whole five year period. The aid is very welcome to King Mohamed — who signed the accord with the visiting emir of Qatar — as he seeks to quell social discontent.
Last year, for the first time ever, China ranked No. 1 in the world among nations expressing interest in buying U.S. firms, according to the U.S. Treasury. Meantime, while the U.S. military says its evolving Air-Sea Battle concept of waging war isn’t aimed at any specific nation, officers privately acknowledge that the key potential foe that falls within its crosshairs is China. A new private report pegs the cost developing of that capability at $524.5 billion through 2023. The Treasury Department requires foreign companies to notify the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) to assess what impact such sales might have on U.S. national security.
The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has received substantial imports of Iraqi crude oil from an Egyptian port in the last nine months, shipping and payments documents show, part of an under-the-radar trade that has kept his military running despite Western sanctions. Assad’s government has been blacklisted by Western powers for its role in the two-and-a-half year civil war, forcing Damascus to rely on strategic ally Iran – itself the target of Western sanctions over its nuclear program – as its main supplier of crude oil.
Somaliland:A Special Paramilitary Unit known as the “oil protection unit” Formed to Guard oil installations
“The introduction of the special trained and equipped units whose mission is to guard and protect oil installations and Genel personnel in order to fulfill our shared aims”, stated the Energy minister. We shall work with our partners we shall embark on a major public awareness and engagement with the community and to establish a security protective force known (oil protection unit) as the to protect to ensure the safety of Genel employees while performing their job before any major operation begins.
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.
Sources told The Express Tribune that a Pakistani delegation recently attended a meeting of the SCO in Moscow that formed the energy club. Under this forum, Pakistan is expected to get financing for gas import projects like the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and LNG supplies to overcome the energy crisis. According to sources, all member countries of the energy club would give their inputs, which would be picked by donor nations for financial support.
Wang Jing, the Chinese billionaire behind the plan to build a waterway across Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal, is on an international infrastructure binge.
While Ukraine digs itself deeper into political crisis, Beijing Interoceanic Canal Investment Management (BICIM) has been quietly getting on with business. The Wang-controlled BICIM has agreed to invest US$10 billion in the construction of a port and economic zone in Sevastopol, Ukraine’s second largest port. The Sevastopol deep water port will improve China’s shipping access to Europe, cutting thousands of kilometres off the Asia- Europe journey.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which is being built upon the initiative of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, is among the most important transportation projects in reviving the Silk Road on the Caspian Transit Corridor. The project would not only connect Azerbaijan and Turkey but also connect the Caucasus and Europe, Middle Asia and Europe and “at the end it could connect the East with Europe,” Osmanli said. Completion of the 826-kilometre railway is scheduled for 2014, and it will be able to transport 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tonnes of freight at the first stage.
France is pushing its European partners this week to create a fund to pay for overseas military interventions, like the operation France is leading in the Central African Republic. Other European governments aren’t too excited about the idea. The dispute exposes a divide between France, which has several military bases abroad and argues that Europe has a responsibility to former colonies in Africa, and countries like Germany that are wary in today’s economic times of intervening and spending taxpayer money abroad.
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.
“The rapid growth of both Indian and Chinese economies has led to increasing reliance on energy and raw materials transported by sea. This has focused sharp attention on the criticality, for both economies, of uninterrupted use of the sea-lanes for trade and energy transportation. Thus, while the PLA Navy makes forays into the Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy has newfound commitments in the South China Sea,” says former Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash on the dynamics at play.
Earlier in October, Putin stated strongly that Russia would never “surrender” its Arctic area. Indeed, Temp airfield located on Kotelny Island, the largest of Russian islands in Novosiberian region, is being reactivated. The airfield has been operational beginning in 1949 then, 20 years ago, its activity was suspended, and the infrastructures preserved for future use. Since then, Russian policy towards Arctic has become more aggressive and one of the elements of that policy is to reinstate the aforementioned airfield for Russian Air Force planes.
The EU intends utterly to eclipse Nato, backed by the two legally binding 2009 Defence Procurement Directives, which enhance the power of the European Defence Agency (EDA). This is becoming an embryo EU defence ministry. EDA’s statute enables decisions to be taken by majority voting, and where any single state can threaten a veto, a subset of member states can act unilaterally as a bloc in the name of the whole of the EU (so called “structure cooperation”). However, EU Defence is not so much about defence, as protectionism of Continental defence industrial interests, whose technology rather lags behind their US counterparts.
The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will have a huge impact on Europe if Turkmenistan and Iraq also become suppliers, energy expert and vice director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies Paolo Magri told AA. When asked whether the recent deal between Iranians and the UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany (P5+1 countries) will lead to Iran also becoming a TANAP supplier, Magri expressed it is too early to make assessments on the matter.“Iranian oil was extremely relevant to Europe. Sanctions are preventing us from importing. If Iran comes to back to the market, it will be a big support to these corridors,” he said.
Miriam Etter, a volunteer who runs the food bank, admits that many locals in the area are shocked to hear that some residents are in need of emergency food handouts. But it’s an evident and growing need for some people across the U.K. Based on unofficial data there are up to 600 food banks in the country, more than half of which are operated and run with the assistance of the charity the Trussell Trust, including the one at Westminster Chapel.The Trussell Trust says that there has been a 170% rise in the numbers turning to food banks for emergency provision in the last year.
The Chinese, investing heavily in Africa to secure its oil and other raw materials for their expanding economy, are spearheading a new era of railroad building to unlock the continent’s interior. This is an echo of the long-gone colonial empires when a century ago British and French engineers first opened up Africa to plunder its riches. The railroad frenzy is being accompanied by a massive push to build several major ports along the coast of East Africa to accelerate exports across the Indian Ocean, mostly to China, India and Japan, as well as lay down a network of oil and gas pipelines to these ports.
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
An uncomfortable prospect for global exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will unfold in India this week — buyers from countries that import 70 percent of the world’s LNG will meet to discuss how to get a better deal. …The meetings may herald the early stages of an Asian buyers’ club for natural gas in supercooled form transported on ships. Should such a grouping gain traction, a historical precedent would be the formation of the International Energy Agency, which was set up by western economies to counter OPEC after the first oil shock in the 1970s.
A US panel raised the specter of sanctions against China, warning Congress that Beijing has not contained its rampant spying on American interests, a major national security concern. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report also flagged China’s massive increase in military spending as a worry, citing naval expansion as a threat to America’s role in Asia, AFP reports. The report accused China of “directing and executing a large-scale cyber espionage campaign,” penetrating the US government and private industry.
Japanese mobsters driving flash cars purchased with bank loans. Executives bowing in apology for loaning millions to those underworld figures. And high-level officials vowing to squash the crime syndicates, known as yakuza. Japan Inc. is engulfed in its worst mob scandal in years and it’s shining a rare light on the links between big business and shadowy organised crime groups usually known for low-brow ventures like extortion and loan sharking. The yakuza occupy a grey area in Japan’s usually law-abiding society.
With triple tax exemption (federal, state, and local), combined with higher-than-average yields, Puerto Rican bonds became so popular in recent years that it was able to rack up $70 billion of debt now held by institutional investors and mutual funds alike. The debt-to-GDP ratio is now nearly 70% and growing, not including pension obligations, which raises the ratio to over 90%. With a per capita debt load of $19,000 and growing, Puerto Ricans shoulder almost 4 times the burden of U.S. leader Massachusetts which carries a deficit of $5,077 per citizen.
India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population. In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state.
The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million square kilometres, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bihar in Northern India through the combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region. This interconnectedness would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade. Leaders hope the economic corridor will bring back to the days of the ancient Silk Road and its south-western trade route.
Is Thailand poised to become the Germany of Asia — a rich, export-driven manufacturing powerhouse and regional logistics hub? The prime factors underpinning Germany’s economic success are its strong manufacturing base (particularly automotive), industrious workforce and fortunate geography enabled by first-rate infrastructure. Thailand already has most of these characteristics, albeit at a different stage of development. The Thai government is now moving in a very deliberate, some might say strategic, way to fill in a missing piece of the equation — infrastructure.
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.
Thousands of opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets on Saturday to express outrage over the country’s deepening economic crisis, seeking to rebuild momentum sapped after a string of electoral defeats.
The nationwide day of protests was the first called by opposition leader Henrique Capriles since he lost by a thin margin to Maduro in April’s snap election following the death of Hugo Chavez and came just two weeks before key mayoral elections.
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals. China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary. “China is the only country in the world that is a major crude producer, consumer and a big importer.
Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts. And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”
The MOU ultimately aims at securing an Eurasian railway logistics system by connecting Moscow, Bladivostok, Rajin, and Busan. According to the MOU, Busan port will be connected to Rajin via sea route and then connected to Moscow in railway. However, Seoul and Moscow agreed to start the Rajin-Khasan railway project at first, considering the variable of North Korea. Because of the “5-24 Measures,” which prohibit direct investments in the North, Seoul is seeking a way of indirect investment by driving South Korean private sector acquisition of the stakes.
Russia is launching the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered icebreakers. The icebreaker of the LK-60Ya model, named Arktika as a tribute to the prominent Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker of the same name, is due to begin sea trials in 2017. The ship will prove effective for the deep-water areas of the Northern Sea Route and the shallow waters of Russia’s Arctic shelf. Russia is due to build three such icebreakers in the next decade. Russia has been actively using the Northern Sea Route for almost 80 years now, with ice-breakers ensuring naval and civilian ship traffic across thick ice along the route.
Goldman Sachs has announced that Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank Group, will serve as chairman of Goldman Sachs’ international advisors. In this role, Zoellick will advise the firm on global strategic issues and oversee the work of our 16 international advisors. He will be based in Washington, DC. ‘Bob Zoellick has extraordinary knowledge of the global economy and has devoted himself to helping emerging economies realize more of their potential’, said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Iran will lead a club of the world’s biggest natural gas exporters as its own shipments abroad are hampered by U.S. and European Union sanctions that force the country to burn off billions of dollars worth of the fuel. Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the country’s former deputy foreign minister, was elected secretary-general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, whose 13 member countries hold 60 percent of the world’s reserves, the group said in a statement. Adeli, vowed to turn the Persian nation into a “major player among the gas exporting countries,” he told reporters after a group meeting in Tehran.
The recent endorsement by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a multibillion dollar construction corridor encompassing Bangladesh, China, India and Burma—if it materializes—could redraw the economic and geopolitical map of Asia. Termed “an international gateway to South Asia,” the BMIC corridor, as it is known, was the highlight of Li’s recent visit to India. The Chinese premier’s office commented that the link “will surely release enormous growth energy and provide new vitality for the Asian economic integration and global growth.”
In a world where budgets are tight, and bottom lines daunting, it makes sense that governments around the world have to do more with less, or they just have to do less. Surprisingly, one part of the state apparatus that most countries seem happy to outsource is one of its most fundamental—security. At home, cash-strapped American cities, and even communities, are turning to private forces to protect public order. And a report out of the UN on Monday shows that the private security industry is experiencing a global economic boom that many of its customers would love.
France receives almost 80% of its energy from nuclear power, more than any other country in the world. The state-owned energy giant, Areva, which mines for uranium and builds and operates nuclear plants, gets a third of its uranium (French) from two mines in Niger, where it is the second largest employer after the state. Later this year, Areva is expected to begin extracting uranium from a site called Imouraren, which is thought to contain the second largest uranium deposit in the world.
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.
Brazil and China can’t seem to agree on what either country is getting out of their economic ties. Take this most recent example: China Construction Bank, a huge state-owned lender, just sunk around $716 million into a 72% stake in Brazil’s Banco Industrial e Comercial, a nearly 19% premium (paywall) on BicBanco’s current share price. Some might argue that the move positions CCB to profit from Chinese investment in Brazil. But to hear the head of another Chinese bank tell it, that might be a naive move.
The U-S.-led shale boom will have a lasting impact on global energy prices and push crude oil prices down to $80 a barrel, according to an analysis by Germany’s BND intelligence agency obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The BND said the U.S. shale boom would have a greater impact on global markets than it predicted in a previous analysis earlier this year. The effects from the unconventional production of oil and natural gas in the United States will be pronounced over the next 10 to 20 years,” the report said.
From his office deep inside the Pentagon, Yoda has outlasted the Cold War, countless military conflicts and 10 presidential elections. But can he survive the sequester? Yoda is the reverential nickname for Andrew Marshall, a legendary if mysterious figure in national security circles. A bald, enigmatic 92-year-old strategic guru, he resembles the Jedi master of “Star Wars” fame in more ways than one. Another defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Hagel thinks that the Office of Net Assessment should be reorganized and that it “can be strengthened potentially by realigning it so that it remains close to him and his senior team.”
Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, its foreign minister said. “The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said in an Oct. 25 interview in Reykjavik. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.
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.
Bangladesh poor selling organs to pay back loans microcredit loans that were meant to lift them out of poverty
Kalai, like many other villages in Bangladesh, appears a rural idyll at first sight. But several villagers here have resorted to selling organs to pay back microcredit loans that were meant to lift them out of poverty. Journalist Sophie Cousins reports on an alarming consequence of the microfinance revolution.They, like millions of other rural Bangladeshis, grow up facing a life of hardship. In an attempt to alleviate poverty, countless numbers take on debt with microcredit lenders, only to find themselves in a difficult situation when they are unable to repay the loan.
French nuclear energy giant Areva signed a deal with Mongolia’s state-owned Mon-Atom on Saturday to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert, officials said. Areva said in a statement that the agreement would create a company that would be 66 percent owned by Areva and 34 owned by Mon-Atom, and that Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation would take an equity interest. Further details of the deal, which was signed during a visit to Mongolia by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, were not immediately announced.
Algeria plays a critical role in the international oil and gas market. It is the third largest natural gas producer in the Arab world after Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the leading gas exporter in Africa and an energy supplier to France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, US and China. The EIA estimates Algerian proven crude oil reserves at 12.2 billion barrels but its real geological prize is its 160 trillion cubic feet reserves of natural gas. Opec economists in the Vienna secretariat estimate that Algeria could well double its oil and gas production in the next decade.