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ECONOMICS – FINANCE – WORLD NEWS – GREEK DEBT

Europe is the new Japan – ECB cuts rates

Yesterday…The Fed’s FOMC meeting notes showed that we’re moving away from the “let’s close the money tap” idea and back to “whatever it takes” – meaning easing or no easing. The statement said that policy action will be taken with an eye on how the economy will progress. read Alphaville (interestingly, Matthew Yglesias of Slate has interpreted this as a call for stimulus)

Apple‘s mega bond of $17m helps the company to avoid $9bn in taxes. If Apple would have had to bring in money from abroad to pay dividends to shareholders, that’s what it would have cost them. Of course, the average Apple customer, like me, doesn’t care about tax avoidance (it’s not even illegal), but the American state is upset, as it’s trying to crack down on offshore tax avoidance like never before this year. read FT

Otherwise, an infographic to yesterday’s ADP employment report. view graphic

This morning…
all eyes are on the ECB, which just announced a benchmark interest rate cut by a quarter point to 0.50%. A press conference during which Mario Draghi will wear a suit made of money is set to follow at 1.30 BST. Let the excitement begin. Money for everyone.

UBS is holding an investor meeting today, during which the bank may be urged to split its investment banking and wealth management units [again]. read Reuters

So long.

Death Star Economics
ECONOMICS – FINANCE – WORLD NEWS – GREEK DEBT

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Slovenia slides down the bailout slope

Yesterday

The Fed is considering tougher capital requirements over worries that banks could be playing the [Basel III] system. Currently, the international agreement sees equity capital at only 3%. Basel brought that up significantly, but also gave the parties involved more room for… creative accounting. Give a bank a loophole. read FT

Moody’s downgraded Slovenia to junk with negative outlook (ouch), which is unfortunate, because the country was planning to auction off some debt. read FT
And now the pathway to an EU bailout: (read Bloomberg)

Rising loan losses resulting from a housing bust and a second recession in two years have left a hole of about 7.5 billion euros ($9.9 billion) at Slovenia-based lenders, investment bank Keefe Bruyette & Woods estimates. That’s a lot for a 35 billion-euro economy: A bank bailout would push government debt above 70 percent of economic output.

Apple issued $17bn in debt – the largest corporate debt offering ever – in six tranches to return money to shareholders and avoid repatriation taxes on overseas funds. read WSJ

In New York, the Empire State Building was lit up in FT-pink to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the newspaper.

This morning…
is quiet due to Labor Day in vast parts of the world.

Later on, we’ll get some data from the US, including the ADP employment report, ISM manufacturing data and the post-FOMC meeting statement from the Fed (ex Bernanke press conference). The ISM is expected to drop below 50, as it last did in November of last year and several months in 2009.

So long.

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A bailout with a side of bank-run

Good morning, due to new commitments Death Star Economics gets up early now.

After Cyprus exploded in such an unexpected fashion on Monday, followed by the revision of the bank account levy proposal assigning a 15% tax on deposits above €500,000 and a closing of all banks until Thursday [making ZeroHedge wonder which Thursday…], which was then followed by the Cypriot parliament rejecting the proposal altogether. In the background, Russia has appeared on a white horse, sending Gazprom to offer to bail the country out for nothing butaccess to its natural resources [and money laundering facilities]. Cyprus’ Finance Minister is currently in Moscow.

In the background, the EU reached a provisional deal on the ECB’s role as single bank supervisor in the Union. Once in place, the reformed central bank could bail out European banks directly. read article

It’s budget day in the UK today, and once again it won’t be pretty. Expected are 2% spendingcuts, totalling £2.5bn. Also, inflation sits at 2.8% in February and in-coming Bank of England Governor Mark Carney wants to focus on more indicators than just getting that number down. There is the possibility that the budget will steer the BoE bank onto the 2% inflation target courseread article

BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, is set to restructure the firm and fire 300 people, about 3% of its global workforce. read article

In regulatory news, Citigroup has to pay $730m in settlement fees for misleading investors in mortgage-related (read “-backed”) securities between 2006 and 2008. Crisis-era legal case #765.read article

UBS decided to leave the panel that sets the Euribor benchmark rate. Previously, Rabobank, Raiffeisen Bank, Bayrische Landesbank and Citi had left the panel. read article

Have a good day.

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Judgment day for J.P. Morgan

There won’t be an email on Monday and Tuesday of next week, 18/19 March 2012.

Today, the London Whale Senate hearing starts in DC, led by John McCain and including testimony from former CIO Ina Drew who left the firm in May 2012. The allegations include a failure to appropriately report on the $6bn trading losses, misleading regulators and investors. read article

Following the Fed stress testBank of America is set to buy back $5bn of shares and $5.5bn of preferred stock, while J.P. Morgan will buy back $6bn in common stock. Goldman Sachs will also be allowed to repurchase shares, but overall the Fed seems worried about J.P. Morgan‘s and Goldman‘s capital structures: the banks will have to submit revised capital plans by September. read article

The British Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS) stated that the UK didn’t need a ban on proprietary trading, mirrored from the American Volcker rule. The Commission suggested capital requirements as alternative tools and cited the difficulty of defining proprietary trading appropriately. Future BoE Governor Mark Carney agrees as well. read article

After months of investigations and grounded fleets, Boeing’s Dreamliners could be back in the air “within weeks”. The spontaneously igniting batteries have been replaced and “only” need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to be ready for take-off. Japanese authorities remain skeptical and declined to put a date on when the Dreamliners could fly again. Either way, Boeing doesn’t have the capacity to replace batteries in all 50 active planes simultaneouslyread article

While the EU-US trade agreement is in the works, Japan has entered negotiations for a similar deal for Pacific nations. read article

Meanwhile, Greece, or rather the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, is selling gas and gambling companies as part of its privatization campaign. Get in there while it’s cheap. read article

Last night, Samsung launched its latest smart phone in the Radio City Music Hall in New York. A review from All Things D, here.

Weekend reading:

– the America we used to know, read article

– the US is more energy self-sufficient, except China wants to own all their natural gas fueling stationsread article

– when hedge funds get personal: the Herbalife background storyread article

 Have a good weekend.

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UK triple-dip on steroids; finance lobby fights in DC

There won’t be an update tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13th. 

In the UK, George Osborne announced that his Funding for Lending scheme, which has yet to prove effective in any way, will be extended and enhanced, in his words put on steroids. Currently geared to drive down mortgage prices, the reformed scheme will also benefit SMEs. Meanwhile, the county fears the reality of its third recessionsince the financial crisis as manufacturing output shrank again – at the fastest rate since July. read article

Over in the US, the financial services lobby is marching on Washington, much as it has in Europe, just with more funding. The matter at hand are not bonuses, but policy proposals that could lead to the forcible restructuring and breaking up of big banks. Goodbye, Citigroup, goodbye, too big to fail. read article

The Mexican government is taking on billionaire Carlos Slim, who ownes large parts of the country’stelecommunications sector. The proposal would force Slim to sell assets and open the market for foreign competitors. Upon Enrique Pena Nieto‘s election in July 2012 hopes for economic reform, particularly in Mexico’s oil market, rose. read article

Hungary passed an amendment to its constitution, allowing prosecutors to choose the judges that will hear their cases. Both Brussels and the US are skeptical of the vote and even more skeptical of the state of democracy in Hungary following the change. In December 2011, there was a letter exchange between Jose Manuel Barosso, President of the European Commission, and Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, regarding the country’s funding from Brussels and its compliance with EU laws, showing Hungary’s drive for independence while expecting full financial backupread article

So long.

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Spanish PM in money-laundering scandal; UK to take bold step on banking reform

All drama takes place in Spain today, where the opposition is pressing for Rajoy’s resignation. Over the weekend, the Spanish paper El Pais, showed that members of Rajoy’s People’s Party party received money through ex-treasurer Luis Barcenas, who is currently under investigation for money-launderingread article

The UK is seeing a renaissance of the Glass-Steagall act, as the banking reform moves on ringfencing investment banking from commercial banking. Last week, the EU quietly distanced itself from its own, union-wide ringfencing plan, presumably as part of a deal on the financial transaction tax. As for the UK, Alphaville explains:

The Banking Reform bill to be published today will give the Treasury and the bank regulator the power to break up a bank that doesn’t respect the ringfence between retail banking and the riskier stuff.

Whoa! That’s a pretty bold move, not to mention confusing as hell. First, the UK doesn’t want any of the EU’s regulatory “wisdom” (fair enough) to protect the City and Britain’s fantastic economy, and then, it adopts regulations that are much stricter than those on the continent. A+ for consistency (that is not a credit ranking). According to Credit Suisse, the reform could have a negative impact on Britain’s annual GDP worth 0.04-0.1%.

In Germany, the reform of the financial services sector has become a fixed part of the election campaigns, making reform inevitable. Now the question is just how sensible new policies could be.

Meanwhile over in AsiaChina is having a great day, with retail, banking, construction and transport [composing the non-manufacturing PMI] showing signs of recoveryread article

Yet, not all the grass in greener on the other side. China’s central bank has issued a warning to the Bank of China, which has exceeded its loan quota by more than CNY30bn ($4.8bn). “Loans are capped at 75% of deposits under China’s current Commerical Bank Law.

Have a good week.

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