News round-up: 5 Sep 2008

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It seems like the global economy is in a holding pattern right at the border of recession and slow growth. The writedowns continue to trickle in drip by drip, unemployment is rising ad retail sales are sluggish, but there has yet to be a trigger event for the doom many have predicted. Are we headed in that direction or will we continue to skate along for the foreseeable future?

Financial Services
The financial services sector is as close to a major institution as it has ever been. The news regarding Nataxis, Merrill, and Lehman is very dire. Let’s not lose sight of all the U.S. regionals and Spanish banks also in trouble. Barclays and Bradford & Bingley have been making a stir as well. What’s going to happen in this sector.

Natixis to Sell Stock at 61% Discount to Lift Capital – Bloomberg
Merrill’s bad debt sale to S.Korea agency stalls – Reuters
Seoul Salvation – Portfolio
Doubts on Merrill’s prospects of selling its bad loans – Evening Standard
Lehman weighs real estate spinoff: report – Reuters
Pimco: Government must halt asset sell-off tsunami – Reuters

Economy
I am just waiting to see what the jobs number says about the US. The unemployment claims look like a better indication of what’s happening in the jobs space. Today at 8:30 AM we will see just how well the U.S. is doing. Portfolio has an interesting take on the jobs number and the birth-death model. Take a look at the article. Also look at the NY Times article on China’s cash bind after buying up tons of Fannie and Freddie debt. Fannie and Freddie are killing the Chinese central banks capital base, now only $3 billion. Illuminating.

What Good Is the Jobs Number? – Portfolio
August Sales Sluggish for Many Retailers – NY Times
Common Misconceptions about the Consumer Price Index – Economist’s View

Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold despite recession threat – Telegraph
Companies Flee Britain, Citing Its Tax Rates – NY Times
Only the deluded truly believe that the worst is over – Times Online

China’s Central Bank Is Short of Capital – NY Times
Brazil declines Opec invitation – BBC News

Housing
It’s still looking weak in the U.S. and the UK.

US: Hovnanian, Toll Brothers post quarterly losses – Reuters
UK: House prices suffer biggest fall since records began – Guardian (The average house price is now below the stamp duty threshold)

Politics
Everyone seems to have forgotten about Ron Paul. Too bad. He is a man with a message regarding what America’s true priorities should be. Meanwhile the lovefest for Sarah Palin continues unabated in Minnesota.

Palin wows GOP, puts Dems on notice – Politico
Michael Tomasky: A speech of zingers but no substance – Guardian
How Palin changed the race – Politico
Ron Paul breaks with convention – Guardian
U.S. elections: McCain family split over abortion rights – Guardian

Personal Finance
Independent-minded fund managers deserve a high value – Market Watch
UK: Ten best-selling car models in August – Guardian (car sales were slowest since 1966)
10 vital money lessons for teens – MSN Money
Your dog’s bite could bankrupt you – MSN Money (who knew this about pets and biting people?)

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