News: 2014-02-28

News links for 28 Feb 2014

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Ukraine

Bulgaria’s Currency Board versus Ukraine’s Chaos | Cato @ Liberty 

Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong | PandoDaily

George Soros calls on the EU, and Germany in particular, to take the lead. – Project Syndicate

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“I hope and trust that Europe under German leadership will rise to the occasion. I have been arguing for several years that Germany should accept the responsibilities and liabilities of its dominant position in Europe. Today, Ukraine needs a modern-day equivalent of the Marshall Plan, by which the United States helped to reconstruct Europe after World War II. Germany ought to play the same role today as the US did then. “

Armed men seize Crimea parliament and hoist Russian flag | World news | theguardian.com

 

Thailand

Thai Farmers Lose Pickup Trucks as Protests Raise Debt Risk – Bloomberg

“Thailand, once the world’s biggest rice exporter, is short of funds to pay 110 billion baht under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s 2011 program to buy the crop at above-market rates. The premier faces allegations that she was negligent in overseeing the subsidy in a case that could lead to impeachment, even as borrowings by farmers such as Koon increase the nation’s household debt to gross domestic product ratio, the highest in Southeast Asia after Malaysia. “

China Policy Institute Blog » Yingluck’s Affinity with the Police and Thailand’s Divided Security Sector

“Elected Prime Minister in 2001, Thaksin, a tycoon with extensive security sector connections, utilized the police to bolster his influence among security services. Indeed, he was the first politician since the 1950s to employ such a strategy. He soon established a dominant police faction through material inducements and promises of power. During his 2001-2006 administration, the share of national budget for the police increased while that for the armed forces diminished. Moreover, under pro-Thaksin governments, the number of ex-police cabinet ministers increased, expanding to four. Thai police have generally been sympathetic to Thaksin because he was formerly a policeman himself. Also, most police reside among local people rather than in isolated camps or are recruited from the local population where they work. Thus, any local pro-Thaksin sympathies tend to resonate among police. The largest areas where police are recruited are the rural north and northeast—hotbeds of pro-Thaksin sentiment. Under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, (2011—Present), the government has drawn even closer to the police in three ways.”

Thais bring children to the insurrection, despite recent deaths | GlobalPost

Get Ready for a Bloody End Game in Thailand – Businessweek

“Yingluck’s government probably will slowly strangle the protest movement. It will do so by closing one protest location after the next while peeling off some of the more moderate supporters of the protests in Bangkok’s business and political communities. Without support from the king and the leaders of the army, and lacking the broad base of demonstrations in places like Venezuela, the protests will eventually dwindle.”

BBC News – Thailand crisis: Army rules out intervention as blast toll rises

From Monday: “Thailand’s army chief says the military will not intervene with force in the country’s crisis, as the death toll from a blast in Bangkok rose to three.”

 

Emerging Markets

Stephen S. Roach says that China’s economic slowdown, unlike that in other emerging countries, should be welcomed. – Project Syndicate

“The problem, as I argue in my new book, Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China, is not with China, but with the world – and the United States, in particular – which is not prepared for the slower growth that China’s successful rebalancing implies.”

Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested over killing of protesters | World news | theguardian.com

Cry for Me, Argentina – NYTimes.com

EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Argentina: The Myth of a Century of Decline

Brazil’s GDP: better than expected but worries remain | beyondbrics

 

North America

Big cut in fourth-quarter GDP growth looms | Reuters

“Gross domestic product growth will probably be lowered to a 2.5 percent annual rate, according to a Reuters poll of economists. That would be down sharply from the 3.2 percent pace reported last month and the 4.1 percent logged in the third quarter.”

Wells Fargo to Cut 700 More Mortgage Jobs – WSJ.com

Fed’s Fisher Would Be Open to Accelerating Taper – Real Time Economics – WSJ

How the Fed Let the World Blow Up in 2008 – Matthew O’Brien – The Atlantic

I don’t agree with the tilt of this piece but it is suggested reading nonetheless

Freddie Mac Reports $48.7 Billion 2013 Profit – WSJ.com

Jobless Claims Rise More Than Expected – WSJ.com

“Initial claims for jobless benefits, a measure of changes in employment nationwide, rose by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000 in the week ended Feb. 22 from the previous week’s downwardly revised figure of 334,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had predicted claims would come in at 335,000.”

 

Japan/Australia

Japan’s Output Climbs Most Since ’11 as Tax Rise Looms: Economy – Bloomberg

Japan Labor Data Not So Rosy – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Pause in Yen Fall Fuels Debate Over Japan Inflation – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Fukushima’s Radioactive Ocean Water Arrives At West Coast | LiveScience

“Radiation from Japan’s leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached waters offshore Canada, researchers said today at the annual American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu. Two radioactive cesium isotopes, cesium-134 and cesium-137, have been detected offshore of Vancouver, British Columbia, researchers said at a news conference. “

As Investment Dwindles, Australia’s Economy Is Lost in Transition – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Investors Fuel Australia’s Housing Boom – WSJ.com

 

Europe

An Attempt To Explain Europe – Forbes

EU’s Highest Court Rules Spain Fuel Tax is Unlawful – WSJ.com

“Spain’s regional and central governments may have to refund as much as €13 billion ($17.8 billion) in fuel tax to end-users after the European Union’s highest court said the tax was contrary to European law.”

Spanish economy trundles on in fourth quarter | Reuters

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“In the fourth quarter, domestic demand had a negative drag on GDP of 0.6 percentage points compared to 2.5 percentage points a quarter earlier. Exports lifted GDP by 0.4 percentage points, down from 1 percent a quarter earlier.”

El precio de la vivienda encadena 69 meses de caída | Economía | EL PAÍS

Spanish house prices are back to 2003-04 levels now and down 30% from the 2008 peak. Price per square meter also fell 4.2% in 2013.

BBC News – Spain begins privatisation of bailed-out lender Bankia

Bankia Bailout Shows Conflicts for ECB as Supervisor – Bloomberg

““Bankia is one of those instances which highlights why a super national regulator is really needed,” Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said in a phone interview. “Taking on what would become a political confrontation with Bankia was something that the regulators chose not to do.” “

RBS has lost all the £46bn pumped in by the taxpayer – Telegraph

“RBS made a loss last year of £8.2bn, its sixth consecutive annual loss, taking its cumulative losses to £46bn”

RBS: the hidden numbers that tell the real story – Telegraph

‘One million buyers have never seen a rate rise’ – Telegraph

Britain’s housing market shows no sign of cooling down, says Nationwide | Money | theguardian.com

Wage rises may break Bank of England’s united front on forward guidance | Reuters

This is the wrong paradigm, which sees wage growth as bad. It isn’t.

Lowest number of Germans out of work in February since September 2012 | Reuters

These figures are the ones reported according to European standards. The old German standard figures show 7.3% unemployment.

ekathimerini.com | Greece’s lenders accept lower capital ratio for bank health test

“The troika of lenders from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank had wanted the test to be based on a Core Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio of 9 percent, the same as that used in the first round of domestic health checks in 2012. That rate reflected the high rate of bad loans in Greece’s banking sector. But the lenders agreed to cut the rate to 8 percent for the second check, bringing it into line with the benchmark used for European bank stress tests.”

ECB: Private-Sector Lending Falls Again – WSJ.com

“On the month, loans to households were flat in January in seasonally adjusted terms after declining by €5 billion ($6.84 billion) in December. Loans to firms declined by €6 billion after an unchanged reading in December. Lending for house purchase increased by €1 billion in January, following a decline of €3 billion in December. “

Euro zone inflation stabilizes in ‘danger zone’ | Reuters

Calls grow louder for ECB to print money: Reuters poll | Reuters

“Although still a minority view, 19 of 63 economists polled this week expect the central bank eventually to launch its own version of such stimulus and expand its balance sheet.”

 

Markets

Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans

We Sue CalPERS Over Denial of Our Private Equity Public Records Act Request | naked capitalism

Gold Bugs Return After Last Year’s Rout – WSJ.com

Blackstone agrees to take 20% stake in Versace – FT.com

““Versace offers strong margins and equity (especially as an independent luxury brand) but has not leveraged its brand to deliver sales and profit to the extent that it could – at least in part because of a relatively weak geographic footprint,” said Matt Woodhams, Added Value, a director at brand development firm. “The challenge is how to grow that footprint without having to invest so much that the investment cancels out the returns.””

Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Saxo Bank’s Steen Jakobsen Warns of Global Economic Vacuum, China Slowdown, Germany Growth Negative, 30% S&P Correction

 

Crypto-currency

The Gox Crater: Crowd Detectives Reveal Billion-Dollar Heist As Inside Job – Falkvinge on Infopolicy

“As smoke clears on the implosion of the Empty Gox bitcoin exchange, thousands of people in the community committed to revealing the truth behind the stonewalling exchange. What was claimed first to be a technical problem, then an outside theft, has been conclusively determined that the MtGox management knew too much, too long ago, to have this be an ordinary case of theft.”

Mt. Gox in bankruptcy, says may have lost all its bitcoins to hackers | Reuters

U.S. attorney subpoenaed Mt Gox, other bitcoin businesses: source | Reuters

 

Technology

Tesla No DeLorean as 619% Jump Makes Hottest Auto Stock – Bloomberg

Tesla raises $2bn in convertible bond sale – FT.com

Marc Andreessen Offers Defense in Wake of Carl Icahn’s eBay Criticism – WSJ.com

Hands-on: Samsung Tizen prototype smartphone [VIDEO]

More From ‘Two-Bit Idiot’: Mt. Gox Felt Overwhelmed by Demand – Japan Real Time – WSJ

Schneier on Security: Breaking Up the NSA

The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place | Andreessen Horowitz

“I am more bullish about the future of the news industry over the next 20 years than almost anyone I know. You are going to see it grow 10X to 100X from where it is today. That is my starting point for any discussion about the future of journalism. Here’s why I believe it, and how we will get there.”

Schneier on Security: Was the iOS SSL Flaw Deliberate?

 

Elsewhere

Virus that caused flu pandemic dominates again – health – 26 February 2014 – New Scientist

“Young adults, beware. The swine flu responsible for the pandemic five years ago is once again the dominant strain in North America. This doesn’t mean we are in the midst of another swine flu pandemic, but it does mean that people of working age are once again hardest hit by the virus, which has been hanging around since 2009.”

Wealthy Airline Passengers Are Now Paying Top Dollar For Privacy – Business Insider

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