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ECONOMICS – FINANCE – WORLD NEWS – GREEK DEBT

China slows, Greece set to grow again

Over the weekend…
Venezuela has elected a new President, after re-elected Hugo Chavez died in early March after long illness. Nicolas Maduro is the man Chavez singled out as a worthy candidate himself, and the election result may have been driven my emotions more so than politics. read article

This morning…
China reported Q1 GDP growth, which came in lower than expected. Year-on-year, the country’s economy grew at a rate of 7.7% in the first three months of 2013. Prior estimates had suggested 8%; Q4 2012 came in at 7.9%. Again, we are facing a week of panic over the Chinese slowdown. read article

Otherwise, troika officials are arriving in Portugal today to assess the country’s austerity plans and post-bailout progress. Simultaneously, the body, composed of the EU, the ECB and the IMF, released a report claiming that Greece could return to growth next year. read article

The week ahead…
will bring us the first batch of earnings from New York-listed corporates, including a bunch of banks like Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, and tech companies Google, Microsoft and IBM.

The Italian parliament will try to elect a new President in the coming days. Officially, the process to find Giorgio Napolitano’s successor begins on Thursday, but it is expected to last a couple of days.

So long.

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Cyprus to exit the news

Over the weekend…

actually right before, Fitch but the UK on its watchlist for downgrades.

The United States Congress is working on reforming the taxability of debt and equity, changing the traditional debt-bias (i.e. tax-deductible interest payments) to an equity-bias. read article

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision received at hat tip that there was a MASSIVE loophole in the Basel III regulation that imposes, among other things, higher capital standards on banks. What it doesn’t regulate, however, is the use of credit default swaps to handle riskier assets that count into those capital standards. Changes to be made. read article

Speaking of Basel – after Switzerland came under scrutiny (again) by facilitating tax avoidance, the US Department of Justice has now asked Lichtenstein to hand over documentation of American-held accounts. read article

Over night…

The Eurogroup of Finance Ministers approved troika-sponsored bailout plan for Cyprus, totalling €10bn. In short, bank deposits under €100,000 will be guaranteed, while larger deposits are facing a crazy haircut, possibly up to 40% (others say the cuts will be capped at 20%). After ten days closure, Cypriot banks re-open todayread article

And let’s not forget that besides all this, we’re still waiting on Italy.

Have a good week.

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The next thing – gold price fixing

Things to know today: The new pope is Argentinian (or Argentine if you will) and the first non-European in 1,272 years; the US continues to fail at making the budget happen; Libor, Euribor, now gold and silver, ALL PRICES ARE FIXED.

The US is seeing Republican and Democratic budget proposals this week, with the former having been released on Tuesday. So far so good, surely a compromise can be found, right? No. In an interview with ABC Obama admitted that the two proposals may be too different to be combined in any shape or form, particularly if the Republican idea only relies on cutting social security and healthcare benefits. read article

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has begun an inquiry in the gold and silver market in London. Though not a ‘real’ investigation yet, the Commission is looking into price fixing, much as they did with Libor. The banks involved in gold price setting in London are BarclaysDeutsche BankHSBCBank of Nova Scotia and Societe Generaleread article

The troika, composed of the EU, ECB and IMF, has decided to delay the latest bailout tranche for Greece, worth €2.8bn, due to “outstanding issues”. One of these could be firing public servants:

Identifying redundant positions and putting in place a system that will lead to mandatory exits for about 150,000 civil servants by 2015 is a so-called milestone that will determine whether the country gets a 2.8 billion-euro aid instalment due this month.

Otherwise, Eurostat released a handful of data including rising Greek youth unemployment (record) and low overall European employment (lowest since 2006). In Brussels, the European leader summit has begun. Rumor has it that France, Spain and Portugal will get more time to shrink their deficitsread article

So long.

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US to be world’s #1 oil producer; Japan back in recession

The International Energy Agency, IEA, has announced that the US will overtake Saudi Arabia in terms of annual oil production as early as 2017. Older reports had seen Saudi Arabia up on top until at least 2035. According to the report, US daily output will amount to 11.1 million barrels, while Saudi Arabia will only achieve 10.6 million barrels. On the same terms, the US will surpass Russia by 2015. By 2035, when the report estimates the US production to fall and the Saudi production to rise again, 90% of Middle Eastern energy exports will go to Asiaread article read report

It is one thing if a natural disaster destroys a country’s growth prospects, it is another if it just happens. Japan’s Q3 GDP fell more than expectedslumping 3.5% instead of the expected 3.4% on an annualized basis. Back in recession, this is the worst performance of Japanese GDP since the 2011 earthquake and mostly attributed to poor export performance and declining consumer spending. The former, of course, is related to the crisis between Japan and ChinaChina’s exports, on the other hand, rose in October, adding to the positive trade balance. This could be Japan’s fifth recession over the past 15 years. read article

In post-election America, where corporate profits have hit lowest levels since 2009, and the politicized fiscal cliff issue is looming [and wasn’t there going to be a food crisis coming as well?], banks have been victorious. After a lot of back and forth, Wall Street’s lobbyists in Washington succeeded in postponing the implementation date of Basel III – indefinitely. The regulation that prescribes higher capital requirements was meant to come into action on January 1, 2013, but now the timeframe was deemed inappropriateJamie Dimon is dancing. To him, Basel III was “un-American” to begin with. In Germany, Basel III will indeed come into effect on New Year’s Day. The German Finance Ministry expects the US to phase Basel III into law over the course of 2013.

Greece beat budget targets for the first ten months of 2012! Now, that’s quite some news. The State Budget deficit totalled €12.3bn, instead of €13.6bn as targeted. Except.. well… this doesn’t include money spent (or lost) by government-owned enterprises. The full report the troika demands prior to the payment of the next bailout tranche, is also still in the making, while the €5bn debt repayment due date comes closer. Officials in Brussels have already announced that we shouldn’t hold our breath for a solution in today’s Eurogroup meetingIn sum:

…the endless Greek “will it be bailed out, won’t it” saga, which today enters yet another irrelevant phase with the latest Eurogroup summit where nothing is expected to be resolved (everyone is still waiting for the Troika report). The final outcome will likely be the much delayed funding of the €31.5bn tranche, but only after Germany pretends to kick and scream loudly and obstinantely, only to comply behind the scenes. After all remember: the Greek “bailout” is really just a bailout of Deutsche Bank.

I guess it is fair to say that some have finally and ultimately become disenchanted with the Greek crisis and will only use it to channel frustration over the rest of the ailing world economy. Fair enough, I’ve been doing that for months.

So long.

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