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Portugal could need second bailout (to pay for the first)

This morning…

the Eurogroup is meeting in Dublin; on the menu: stop messing around with bank stress tests (i.e. tighten measures) and the bailout schemes of Portugal and Ireland. Some say even if Portugal was granted an extension of its bailout repayment, it could potentially face a second collapse and thus a second bailout. Ireland is looking in the same gloomy direction. According to the FT:

Lisbon’s bailout is due to come to an end in July 2014 and the extension of maturities of its bailout loans is intended to smooth its full return to markets. But it has to raise €14,1bn next year and €15bn in 2015, whereas before the crisis it was typically raising €10-€12bn a year. Ireland is also facing a big financing challenge. It needs to refinance €20bn per year from 2016-20, which is about 12 per cent of the country’s projected economic output for this year.

Thus, the world is quiet in anticipation of next week’s news country of choice. It might be early days for Slovenia, so maybe it’ll drift back to Cyprus or Italy.

Meanwhile, Japan will officially enter the Asia-Pacific trade talks this summer, which are currently held between Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the US. read article

Weekend reading…
– The Economist on Margaret Thatcher‘s legacy, read article

– William Cohan on the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House, read article

Climate change may double turbulence on transatlantic flights, read article

– The Winklevoss twins are all over bitcoin, read article

JPMorgan explains why you should avoid investment banks, read article

Have a good one.

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Obama to unveil $3.77tn budget

Yesterday…Slovenia‘s new Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said the country didn’t require any help to deal with its banking crisis that the OECD seems to consider as serious but not urgent. Many Slovenian banks are already owned by the state; the OECD has recommended stress tests and the potential recapitalization or closure of failing institutions, but Bratusek is having none of it, saying the bad bank that will be set up until early summer will be able to take the toxic assets. read article

This morning…
EU is considering extending the bailout programs for Ireland and Portugal. According to Reuters, where this story came from, this will be discussed at the Eurogroup meeting on Friday.

To make everything worse, the ECB’s [first ever] Household Finance and Consumption Survey found that the average Cypriot is richer than the average German (by median net wealth). Even though the classic North-South divide re-appears in the median gross income figures, that won’t go down too well. read article

China reported its first trade deficit in over a year for March 2013, again it could be another hangover from the Lunar New Year holiday, leading to increased imports, while exports grew less. read article

Meanwhile in the US, President Obama will unveil a $3.77tn budget plan at 11am EST today, when he will speak from the White House. read article

So long.

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Obama ready to cut social security for budget deal

Yesterday…
it was all about central banks: the Bank of Japan expanded its asset purchasing program to JPY7tn per month, which will increase the Japanese monetary base to JPY270tn – double – by early 2014. read article

Both the Bank of England and the ECB left their policies alone. Mario Draghi shared mixed views of the European economy, saying it was to benefit from improving financial markets sometime soon, while bank lending was negative and needed encouraging. Interest rate cuts are possible again.

This morning…
we’re waiting for US non-farm payrolls, expected to show 190,000-200,000 jobs added in March (according to Bloomberg and Dow Jones respectively), as opposed to 236,000 in February, with a steady unemployment rate of 7.7. read article

President Obama is willing to cut social security spending to finally get a budget deal together, the White House announced this morning. The new proposal would see cuts worth $1.8tn over the next decade and will piss off a lot of Democrats and unions. read article

Weekend reading…
women and Wall Street (again) read article
– why the French are an un’appy folk, read article
– the deal with interest rates, read article

Have a good weekend.

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Cyprus rejects Russia, EU deadline looming

Cyprus… failed to reach a deal with Russia, as reported very early on this morning, but is said to discuss an EU solution in parliament today. That would include a bailout program for Cypriot bank Laiki, splitting it into a ‘good’ and ‘bad bank’. Jobs would be saved and deposits under €100,000 would be guaranteed, the rest would go towards the bank’s dark side. Besides this proposal, the parliament has six others to discuss. read article

Yesterday…

The US House of Representatives voted to prevent the government from shutting down by the end of the month and supported Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. This means that both government agencies and programs will stay in place until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Ryan’s budget on the other hands, cuts taxes, healthcare and social costs to lower the budget over the next decade. It is expected that the Democrats’ counter example of a plan will be passed in the Senate today. This has brought us nowhere. read article

In some last minute action, Blackstone, together with Southeastern Asset Management, is considering a bid for computer company Dell. Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell have put in their bid in Feburary, but the official deadline is only todayread article

This morning…

German business confidence, measured by the IFO index, reported a slump after a 10-month high in February. Surprising or not, this is hardly a sign that even Germany is going under, and is following a lower manufacturing PMI as well. read article

Finally, family traits: Raj Rajaratnam’s brother has been accused for insider tradingread article

Weekend reading…

– how Obama is trying to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict, read article

– next up in Venezuelaread article

– Nicholas Sarkozy and elderly women, read article

– Cyprus cartoonsread article

Have a good one.

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Sequestation is no medical term

Amusing as ever, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times try to sell us two different worlds this morning. As for WSJ:

Meanwhile, the economy is improving, central banks continue to pump money into the financial system, corporate earnings aren’t horrible and turmoil in Washington has waned.

While elsewhere, the FT announces “US faces fresh financial shock.” Well, that’s confusing. The problem at hand is the sequester, another beast of $1.2tn in automatic spending cuts, passed in 2011 and in effect from March 1. It cuts the Pentagon’s budget by $600bn until 2023, while the same amount is cut from other discretionary government spending.

Unlike the fiscal cliff deals – which was widely anticipated – the sequester would cause a big hit to 2013 growth forecasts. According to forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, the sequester would knock 0.7 percentage points off growth in 2013, taking its forecast down from 2.6 to 1.9 per cent.

In the business of fixing rates, the attention shifts to Singapore, where internal reviews have uncovered a scheme to fix rates for non-deliverable foreign exchange forwards. When the Libor scandal broke lose in London, Singapore’s regulator ordered financial institutions to review their rate submission processes to the Association of Banks in Singapore, which publishes the benchmark. JP Morgan, UBS, HSBC and DBS are the most active players in Singapore’s offshore FX market. read article

In ItalyMonte dei Paschi di Siena is looking for a new investor. He should have at least €720m lying around to pay a potential fine for derivatives trades between 2006 and 2007, and not be part of any center-left political movement. A dislike of moral high horses would also come in handy. read article

Otherwise, Toyota is once again the world’s largest car manufacturer according to 2012 figures, taking its old place at the top back from General Motors.

So long.

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No trillion-dollar coin, and no budget either – the US on hold

The White House has announced to delay the submission of the 2014 budget talks until the fiscal cliff is dealt with entirely. In other words, the US might enter 2014 (fiscal year begins three months before) without any clue where to spend how much money on what. read article

After much hoping that Ben Bernanke would help re-enacting The Simpson’s episode “The Trouble with Trillions” and mint a trillion-dollar coin (coin, note, same difference), he responded to questions regarding said piece of metal saying “I’m not going to give that any oxygen.” Fine then. He continued defending his policies and claiming that their ineffectiveness was merely due to a too small scaleread article

Even Norway is now jumping on the QE band wagon. The deputy governor of the Norwegian central bank indicated that something would have to be done about high interest rates if the NOK continues to be so strong.

The preliminary reading of Germany’s fourth quarter GDP says the country’s economy contracted by 0.5% from Q3, bringing annual growth down to 0.7% from 3% in 2011. Ouch. But not actually that far off what economists had predicted. At least Germany is running a teeny tiny surplus of 0.1% again – the first one since before the financial crisis. Yay. read article

After solar panels and telecommunicationsChina and the EU are fighting about another traded good: steel. The European Commission says China has paid illegal subsidies to steel companies to dodge the market price of organic coated steel, making Europe’s manufacturers pay higher import tariffs on Chinese products. read article

The British business press is full of American Pie (The Day the Music Died) puns, as high street music retailer HMV is going into administration. Considering Virgin closing one superstore after the other, this is just another battle won by AmazonApple and co against the old world of retail.

And while Apple shares dropped 3.6% to a still ridiculous $501.75 yesterday, Dell is struggling to find a new direction in life. For months, reports the WSJ, the computer company has been in talks with Silver Lake and TPG Capital, two huge American private equity buyers, who could emerge as dis-/joint bidders for the business. Delisting a $19bn company would be quite expensive and mark the largest buyout since KKR’s acquisition of First Data Corporation in 2007. Founder Michael Dell owns 14% of the company’s shares, which rose almost 13% in response to the news. read article

So long.

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SEC investigates big four, Boris Johnson wants EU referendum

The American SEC is investigating the Chinese operations of the big four (Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte, PwC) + BDO for failing to cooperate with the Commission investigating potentially fraudulent behavior of Chinese companies that went public in the US. The auditors could be sanctioned or even excluded from operating within the US. read article (including another angry picture of enforcement director Robert Khumzami)

In fiscal cliff newsrepublicans put a new (old) proposal on the table, which already got rejected by the White House this morning. The proposal included $800bn in tax increases over the next 10 years, paired with a number of cuts, including scarping $600bn from Obama’s Medicare program. According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposal looked a lot like a the outlines of a budget deal discussed by Obama and Johgn Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, in 2011, the last time America stood at the cliff. Interestingly, Boehner’s proposal “also did not specify how Congress would address the $110 billion in spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 2 in defense and discretionary spending.” read article

But that’s not the only thing on Obama‘s mind. Another one is how to compensate those who have raised the most funds for his re-election. One of them is Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue US and the very original devil in Prada. And to say thank you, Obama might make her the American ambassador to the UKread article

The IMF has released a staff paper saying that capital controls may be beneficial to countries whose economies are struggling and unable to deal with the volatility attached to capital inflows. Previously, the IMF was vehemently against capital controls, despite their use in some emerging economies. Now, however, it argues like this:

The experiences of Spain and Indonesia, as well as Brazil and Korea during the global crisis, highlight how regulations or re-imposition of restrictions on certain transactions can mitigate the build-up of vulnerabilities.

Spain!!! You know what that means. Next thing we know, there will be capital controls all over Europe’s peripheryread article 

Meanwhile, at a morning conference in London, major Boris Johnson said that a renegotiation of the UK’s relationship with Brussels was a necessary step forward and should lead to a straight forward referendum regarding the current terms and conditions that tie Britain to the single market. read article

In Doha, British Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the UK was going to put £1.8bn towards the battle against climate change. This will include financial support to cut emissions in developing countries. Britain is the first G7 country to commit to the project. read article

So long.

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