Tim Taylor: Unions in Decline: Some International Comparisons: Union membership and clout has been dropping in the US economy for decades. But it's not just a US phenomenon: a similar drop is happening in many high-income countries. The OECD Employment...
Компания Eaton (Eaton Corporation plc (NYSE:ETN)) объявила о рекордных результатах продаж и показателях операционной прибыли, обусловленных приобретением компании Cooper Industries. Операционная прибыль за третий квартал 2013 года, без учёта издержек на интеграцию недавних приобретений в размере $38 млн., составила $536 млн., что на 48% выше показателя за аналогичный период 2012 года. Операционная прибыль на акцию по сравнению с прошлым годом выросла на 5% и составила $1,12. При подведении итогов были учтены акции, выпущенные в процессе приобретения Cooper Industries, и стоимость приобретения с учетом расходов на сделку. Объем продаж в третьем квартале составил $5,6 млрд., что на 42% выше показателя за аналогичный период 2012 года. Объем продаж сегмента "Электротехническая продукция" после приобретения компании Cooper Industries составил $1,8 млрд., что на 98% превышает показатель за аналогичный период 2012 года.
Shale gas has become one of the most polarizing issues in Europe-wide debates on energy policy. Technology and its impact on the environment are at the heart of controversy. Compatibility with the policy of de-carbonisation is another sticking point. In effect, some EU members, like France and Bulgaria, decided to ban so-called fracking, the principal method to access low-permeable shale deposits. France introduced a moratorium in 2011, Bulgaria followed suit in 2012. Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, did not say “no” to shale gas in principle, so far choosing to tread lightly and largely defer the issue to regional governments. Others are hesitating, as if waiting for the issue to play out by itself. Against this patchwork of positions and policies, Poland and the United Kingdom clearly stand out. Both countries are indeed becoming a European shale avant-garde, or rather the first members of a coalition of those willing to go after shale-trapped natural gas (Lithuania and Romania are believed to be the next possible signings). In recent weeks, Polish authorities heeded the calls of the drilling companies and expedited some of the more time-consuming environmental procedures. In the UK, the government not only began a serious media campaign in favor of shale gas, but tabled fiscal measures to incentivize exploration (to be fair, officials in Warsaw went pretty much the same way last Spring when they announced tax breaks for shale drillers that would last until 2020). Hence, it came as no surprise when, following a meeting between Owen Paterson, the British Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Marcin Korolec, head of the Polish Ministry of Environment, numerous media reports heralded the emergence of an alleged pro-shale gas front in the EU, spearheaded by Poland and the United Kingdom. Indeed, purposely elevating shale gas onto the EU-level could serve both countries’ interests, though for vastly different reasons. Britain’s relationship with the EU these days can be described as “it’s complicated” at best. Positioning itself as a champion of both responsibly developing the potential locked in the shale rock, and maintaining Europe’s competitiveness on industrial and energy fronts, would serve London well at a time when Britain’s European bona fides is repeatedly put into question. Poland is vocal about these pro-shale arguments, too, and would no doubt welcome an opportunity to press on with them as part of a team effort. Perhaps crucially, while it would be difficult to question Warsaw’s support for European integration in general, it’s credentials with respect to EU climate policy are hardly a thing to boast about, therefore making it harder to claim that shale gas is in fact a bridge fuel towards a decarbonized energy policy. But this is exactly where Britain’s strong record with tackling climate change would prove to be an invaluable asset. With a clearly discernible overlap of interests, what agenda should this tandem pursue? What should be the building blocks of a convincing, politically appealing and therefore sellable strategy for engaging in the European debate on shale gas? For starters, Poland and UK should clearly distance themselves from the idea that their cooperation is solely about torpedoing any attempts to tighten the screw of environmental regulations, or to otherwise discourage exploration of shale deposits. Granted, judging by the degree to which the debate has been distorted by shale skeptics, playing defense might be advisable, if not indispensable. Thus if the push were come to shove and new regulation would make it onto the EU legislative agenda, wielding a veto will most probably remain part and parcel of a concerted British-Polish approach. However, obstructionism cannot become the essence of this alliance. It would mean adding fuel to the fire of the European shale gas debate, and exacerbating the existing tensions. Instead, London and Warsaw should aim at adding substance to the discussion. Events on the ground in both countries ought to be their principal instruments in making the case for a fact based European approach to shale gas, as opposed to the current one, which often fails to adequately reflect the dynamics of this industry, including the continued evolution of technology and growing ability to assuage public concerns about water management, noise, or seismicity. To be sure, in terms of the scale of operations, the record in either Poland or the United Kingdom remains unimpressive. This could make their case of being sufficiently advanced on the issue to set the tone of the European debate somewhat challenging. It is still early days for the industry in Poland. The first producing well has been reported only recently. And it will take some time before the current euphoria within British the government circles translates into activities on the ground. Only five shale gas wells have been drilled in the United Kingdom so far, all in the period between April 2011 and December 2012. And still, Poland and Britain can contribute positively to the way in which shale gas is debated in Europe. Highlighting their record with the first test wells, especially in terms of the robustness of environmental safety procedures applied during the process, ought to be the first building block of this approach. Working towards best standards for communication and cooperation between key stakeholders—state authorities, independent regulators, the industry and the public, including local communities—should be another. Finally, Polish and British geological surveys need to team up to share their experience with resource base assessment, which quite naturally cannot rely on North American record alone, and thus diffuse some of the confusion that lingers with the public opinion as to what could be the actual potential of European shale deposits. As the pace of exploration accelerates, the wealth of data on which to make such estimates would grow, too. This is how London and Warsaw could put themselves in the driver’s seat of the EU-wide debate about shale gas. The alternative would be to see it land in the ditch of wasted chances and bad decisions. Bartosz Wiśniewski is research fellow with the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw
Follow ZeroHedge in Real-Time on FinancialJuice There are dates that go down in history and some will be remembered as landmark signals of changing times. Russia has the upper hand in Syria. The USA is not as gung-ho as they might have led the rest of the world to believe about starting another war. Russia and China have both given lessons of a preaching-tone on the way that theNational Security Agency has eavesdropped on the world and the Obama administration has gone haywire on giving secret information to the Israelis so that they too can exploit it. What has happened to the world? Now, one other date will probably go down in memory as a historic change of our times. That date will be today, Monday September 16thand the reopening of the joint North and South Korean industrial zone that has reopened its operations in Kaesongfive months after been closed down due to military tensions between both sides. In 2010 the sinking of a naval vessel that belonged to the South (that the latter blamed on its arch rival the North) created issues between both parties. The military tensions came to a head when a South Korean tourist was shot dead. At one time, it was the common belief that crushing your enemies was the only way in a dog-eat-dog world to do business. Reduce them to jittering rubble and pound them into dust to be scattered and forgotten was how business used to get done in the past. That was before the world realized that enemies are a good source of business themselves and if we want to be global rather than selling in our back-yard, you have to wear the smile of hypocrisy sometimes to sell to the people you hate. The two Koreas’ tale is one such story; living in each other’s backyard and for decades keeping them at bay. Now they have got their acts together and are almost moving in with each other. Oscar Wilde once said ‘always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much’. How very true. I am certain there are a few people we would all like to annoy just as much. Kaesong Industrial Complex: the Two Koreas Kaesong So, maybe the re-opening of the border and the industrial zone inKaesong is the forgiveness to the other side that will crush the opponent or it’s a world gone mad in which North Korea has come to realize that it needs its neighbor and vice-versa. Since April Kaesong has been a ghost town, devoid of the hordes of Koreans working there. There were 53, 000 North Korean workers back then until they were pulled out. Today, 820 South Koreans (businessmen and workers) crossed over the border again and it’s a clear sign of thawing in the relations in the on-going tale between the two countries. There are 123 companies from South Korea that manufacture in Kaesong, making household goods and appliances. That brings in about $2 billion per year in terms of trade for the North. It also pays roughly $80 million in wages for North Koreans too. Wages But, it should be remembered that wages are paid to the North Korean state and in good organized and centralized fashion, it’s the state that pays the workers after taking its hefty cut. Statistics on minimum wages or average salaries are not issued by the North-Korean state, but analysts have made estimates (based upon reports of foreign visitors, for example). Wages in North Korean stood at between 50 and 100 won per month in the 1980s. Most people earned about 70 wan on average. By 2000, that had reached an average of 100 wan per month. 100 wan works out to roughly 0.0924 US Dollars. 100 wan is the average salary of an unskilled worker in North Korea. A party official would earn two to three times that amount. This is the official estimated salary that the state provides the people with along with rations to live on. But, many North Koreans work outside of the state sector in order to earn more than the basic subsistence amount that is provided. It is possible (according to reports) that some may earn today about $30 per month if they have influence in North Korea. Just having a small shop will bring in some $100 per month. Businessmen that are involved in manufacturing and that won workshops may have incomes of up to $500 per month. However this is only true for a very small percentage of the population. It is also impossible to obtain anything more than an estimate and the figures cannot be proved for certain. Unification or Unity After the opening of Kaesong today once again, North Korea stated via the state-run news agency KCNA: “The Korean peninsula's peace and peaceful reunification is our republic's consistent and firm stance”. Kaesong has long been seen as a showcase for the perfect reason to reunite the two Koreas. The South provides its know-how and its technological prowess, while the North provides the slave labor to manufacture that. Kaesong has existed for a decade now and was launched in 2003. It was South Korea that provided the financing. The South Korean Ministry of Unification has been attempting to bring both sides into a close dialogue since 1998, promoting trade exchanges and negotiations for cooperation. The Ministry was downsized in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. The target would be the unification of the two nations, which might seem highly unlikely both in the past and still today. But, if the two parties actually work more closely together, then that would be a step in the right direction. Unite them perhaps not; become more liberal in their reactions towards and trade with each other is a different matter. Working together and tying the two countries in a common project such as Kaesong will inevitably lead to greater trust, which will in turn open North Korea to the rest of the world. Cutting off trade between the two countries would mean forgoing $230 million imports that are ordered by the South from the North. The North also provides $50-million worth of textiles for the South. Being stopped from using South Korean waters would also mean that merchant and cargo ships from North Korea would have to make detours, involving increased use of fuel and therefore would result in greater costs that the poverty-stricken North already wouldn’t be able to put up with. Both sides have everything to gain. Just last spring North Korea made threats that it would attack South Korea and also the USA (preemptive nuclear attacks). But, the North has been out of business for so long and isolated economically that it has no idea of how to do business. It is hardly known for its skills in diplomacy. Threatening trade partners and then backing down and carrying on as usual means that people are wary of the volatility of the North and that’s bad for business. Kaesong should have held a fair to attract foreign investors inOctober this year. Some are doubtful of wishing to invest in a country that has a high-rate of volatility and for which it is almost impossible to determine what road they will be taking in the next few months and years. But, there are some, the most adventurous perhaps, that have taken the plunge into North Korea (notably the Netherlands). The scene of the two Koreas is straight out of the Charles Dickens novel, a Tale of Two Cities. North Korea and South Korea have spent the past decades living a life of antagonistic difference that has unfurled an acrimonious and until-now ceaseless hatred between the two countries, where there has been an illusionary belief that each side was better than the other: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”. Both have believed that they had the best of times in their own country. Both believed that it was the worst of times over the border for the others. Today that has changed and the epoch of belief is the idea that working together can only be beneficial to both North and South Korea. It may certainly be an epoch of incredulity not only for the Koreans but for the rest of the world. What on earth will the world think of two arch-enemies that will be working together in a like-minded route to prosperity together? Septaper Will Open Floodgates | How Sinister is the State? | Food: Walking the Breadline | Obama NOT Worst President in reply to Obama: Worst President in US History? Obama's Corporate Grand Bargain Death of the Dollar | Joseph Stiglitz was Right: Suicide | China Injects Cash in Bid to Improve Liquidity Technical Analysis: Bear Expanding Triangle | Bull Expanding Triangle | Bull Falling Wedge | Bear Rising Wedge | High & Tight Flag
Tales from the development frontier is an important publication that presents analytical reviews and case studies that show how selected developing countries have developed light manufacturing to create jobs and foster prosperity. China's emergence as a powerhouse in light manufacturing is a major focus of this volume, but other countries in Africa and Asia are also included. Mindful of the adage that there is as much to learn from success as failure, the case studies examined in this book cover both triumphs and disappointments, eliciting from them lessons on the development of light manufacturing and how this sector can be leveraged to accelerate growth in poor countries where the initial conditions may not be quite ideal. The book brings out the role of focused, targeted initiatives that can help break the poverty trap and ignite growth that begins small but can eventually lift broader segments of the economy. Each successful enterprise or industry described in this book began as a family workshop, a microenterprise, or a group of small entrepreneurs meeting a limited demand in a small area. Although these fledgling ventures confronted market, institutional, and regulatory environments loaded with daunting obstacles, they managed to find room for organic growth, supported by focused government policy interventions to ease the binding constraints. At some point, though not necessarily at first, cooperation and even partnership with government policy makers helped to power a gradual transformation that turned small informal firms into modern corporations capable of establishing national and, eventually, international distribution networks. The book argues that this sequence of ground-level entry and gradual organic growth to a larger scale represents a common element in the growth of light manufacturing in the United Kingdom and other early developers, as well as the recent successes such as China. China's emergence as a powerhouse in light manufacturing is a major focus of this volume, but other countries in Africa and Asia are also included. Mindful of the adage that there is as much to learn from success as failure, the case studies examined in this book cover both triumphs and disappointments, eliciting from them lessons on the development of light manufacturing and how this sector can be leveraged to accelerate growth in poor countries where the initial conditions may not be quite ideal.
Authors: Mario Mariniello This article was first published in the Wall Street Journal. If Europe had a genuine single digital market, every citizen and company could subscribe to any telecom operator active on the Continent. Pan-European operators could compete across different countries. New technologies would be profitable and rapidly deployed. High-speed access to the Internet would be available to all. Unfortunately, the long-awaited telecom package unveiled Wednesday evening by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes will not get Europe there—or at least not as quickly as some hoped. Achieving a single market for digital services requires a bold and coherent strategy. The European Commission should make clear that it prioritizes end-customers, whether they are citizens or businesses, for whom telecommunications is a primary means of fostering social cohesion within Europe and enhancing economic growth. More clarity on telecom policy would also spur investment and competition, to the benefit of European consumers. Such clarity is absent in this week's reform package. The legislation was adopted without prior public consultation, creating speculation that the text was shaped by behind-the-scenes political pressure. The result can hardly be called a milestone in the path to a single digital market. The Commission proposal only mildly addresses the issue of market segmentation, for instance. The creation of a single European regulator and the EU-level allocation of wireless spectrum would be the most straightforward way to overcome national fragmentation and promote the establishment of truly pan-European telecom operators. Instead, the Commission's proposal mostly relies on an "authorization system" under which operators doing business abroad would be regulated by their home regulator. This is no guarantee of enhanced competition, particularly if regulators are subject to home-country political pressure to back national champions at the expense of customers in host countries. Likewise, the Commission is merely attempting to coordinate national spectrum auctions instead of encouraging EU-level auctions. Under this week's proposal, the Commission will retain a veto right if a licensing process creates barriers to the internal market. Yet this is still far inferior to pan-European auctions, which would encourage mobile operators to compete at a continental level rather than merely at a national one. One of the Commission's flagship initiatives—to cap wholesale roaming fees—falls similarly short in this week's package. Earlier drafts proposed cutting roaming fees by up to 90% through the introduction of a €0.03 per minute cap on voice calls and €0.015 per megabyte for data transmission. Roaming fees are high in Europe because customers cannot "punish" a foreign operator that is charging too much for accessing its network. They can only subscribe—or not subscribe—to telecom operators in their home country. So regulating roaming fees makes sense if competition in the wholesale roaming market cannot be guaranteed. In the Commission's final proposal, however, these limits have been dropped. Instead, the proposal promotes the creation of "multilateral roaming agreements": Two operators in such an arrangement would treat each others' customers largely as their own, and charge roaming fees accordingly. But cooperation agreements may be viewed with suspicion by antitrust authorities, which could make operators less eager to participate. The Commission's approach will also affect so-called "alternative roaming operators," which are operators to which mobile customers can separately subscribe when using their devices outside their home country. Brussels previously endorsed this business model as a way to contain roaming costs, but under this week's proposal, operators in multilateral roaming arrangements would not be forced to give alternative roaming operators access to their networks. This would make it risky for such operators to enter the market, which could open further possibilities for anticompetitive abuses. The Commission, in other words, recognizes the existence of a market failure and announces that excessive roaming fees will be slashed. But in the final proposal, it has introduced more uncertainty than there was before. The proposal's approach to net neutrality does not provide for much more certainty, either. The Commission proposes harmonization of the relevant European legislation, leaving open the possibility for operators to offer different levels of service quality at different prices, provided the principle of an Internet open to all is preserved. Economic theory suggests that price or quality discrimination are not necessarily bad for customers. Varying the price of Internet services in line with their burden on network capacity might enable more efficient allocation of Web traffic. So the Commission's proposal is probably correct on substance. Yet price discrimination could lead to antitrust abuses: Operators could, for instance, charge mobile users more for using services, such as Skype or Google Talk, that represent a competitive threat. The success of the net-neutrality regulation will therefore depend on national regulators' and antitrust authorities' ability to identify anticompetitive behavior and enforce competition law in a timely manner. The Commission's proposal introduces some positive changes, but it is too coy. Above all, it fails to foster the development of a new digital era in Europe, which would bring certainty and confidence to consumers and to the industry. Read more...
Last week my father received a phone call from the branch director of his long-standing bank to offer him a new product. My father, instead of listening with confidence to the advice of a trustworthy agent, was immediately suspicious. He dreaded another 30-page prospectus full of small print — and another potential trap. My father's experience is mirrored all over the world. Millions of people have lost confidence in banks. But the dissatisfaction and disappointment with our banks runs deeper. The last bank in my hometown closed a year ago. After serving the community for more than thirty years, it was no longer seen as economically viable. Another casualty of cost cutting, it simply closed its doors — even though local people and businesses that had used that bank all their lives still relied upon it. Again, this story is repeated around the world. This, we are told (in expensive TV ads), is progress. A global world needs global banks — whether we as their local customers like it or not. But something has been lost along the way. Even before the banking crisis of 2008, something was gradually, but undeniably, in decline. Trust. Millions of savers and borrowers listened (and still listen) to reports of record profits at their bank — even as they are told their local branch is closing to save costs. The two facts do not add up. Today, the belief among ordinary account holders that banks are there to serve us has all but disappeared. Where once they were regarded as pillars of the community, banks are increasingly seen as the unpalatable face of big business. In many cases, banks have sacrificed the needs of the local community — and indeed the belief in the community ideal — in the scramble to go global. That globalization has come at the cost of local service. What the banks seem to have forgotten is that the global village is made up of millions of local communities. (The banking sector is not alone in this. In industry after industry, companies have gone global with something approaching abandon, often with little regard for the local communities that gave them life.) So, why is this and does it matter? And, perhaps more importantly, can anything be done to fill the yawning gap in local communities all over the world? My research suggests that there is a viable alternative to local banks. It is something I call community financing. Community financing refers to a form of cash-flow that channels the financial resources of the savers of a community into the well-being of that community via economic activities, which members of the community believe should be undertaken and therefore willingly supports with their savings. There are many examples of Community Finance initiatives around the world, some large some small. Think of Kiva, Kickstarter, or microlending. But it's not all about internet startups or social enterprise. One of my favorites is the story of the JAK Members Bank (or JAK Medlemsbank), a co-operative member-owned financial institution based in Skovde, Sweden. The bank does not participate in capital markets; all of its loans are raised solely from member savings. In 2011, JAK had assets (savings) of 131 million Euros and 38,000 members, who are each allowed one share in the bank and determine its policies and direction. JAK relies on the "saving points" system — members accrue points for saving and use them to apply for a loan. The idea is that you are allowed to take out a loan for yourself to the same extent that you allow other people to receive loans. The bank uses a simple accounting rule to ensure its own sustainability: overall, earned savings points must equal spent savings point. JAK does not charge or pay interest on any of its loans (a principle it shares with Islamic banking). To see how this works in practice, consider a true story. An entrepreneur in the small community of Skatteungby, some 300 kilometers from Stockholm, asked the JAK Bank for a loan to develop a shop. Although he remained ultimately responsible for paying back the loan, the project was able to go ahead because he enjoyed the support of individuals within the community who wanted the shop. Enough people in his local community made a deposit from their personal savings into the account to finance the shop, fulfilling the saving schema that JAK requires for granting a loan. In this scheme, the risk stays at the bank, the responsibility of repayment to goes to the entrepreneur, and the community foregoes the potential gain in interest in their deposits in exchange for having a local activity in the town desirable by many of their members. This is one of the sharing risks schemes that characterize community finance. Such initiatives are now on the increase around the world, not just in emerging economies but in the developed economies of the West. They offer a fresh approach to financing local businesses and providing local banking services. They also offer a chance of redemption for the traditional banking system. Let me explain. Since modern banking began in the 17th century to offer a channel from people's deposits to people's needs, the number of people using the banking system has grown steadily reaching percentages of more than 90 percent of bank users in countries such as the U.S. or the UK, making it difficult for citizens to believe that we could do without them. But, since the beginning of the 20th century, different crises of liquidity and debt have given banks a bad reputation.The growing distrust of conventional banks is provoking an outflow of deposits to entities outside the conventional banks and even some outside the regulated system in different crowd-finance platforms, peer-to-peer lending systems and cooperative lending entities. These initiatives are suddenly becoming popular. They provide micro lending services to local community businesses. Some such as Accion in the USA , or Fondo de Solidaridad de Granada, have been around for years. Others, such as "Bank on Dave" in the UK are newer. Elsewhere, other alternative community financing initiatives are underway. For example, new technologies have made it possible to develop crowd sourcing lending platforms, such as Kickstarter in the USA, or or Goteo in Spain , for peer-to-peer financial services. Some of these initiatives are regulated by financial authorities, some leave on the margins as private associations, but all are becoming increasingly popular to fill the gap left by traditional banking. In parallel financial inclusion, through financial literacy or providing banking services to financial excluded communities are part of the new landscape such as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank. The fact that people may trust more an unknown virtual platform in the web than its neighboring bank is not as crazy as we might think, if we consider that default rates of some of these systems are estimated to be less than two percent when the banking system might get as high as eight percent or even 10 percent in the case of credit cards. And yet can we seriously envision that the next level of finance, at least for the personal loans or small business, will leave the banks? And do we really want it to? If this happens, the long process to provide the financial system with regulation and security controls will be undermined, and we would lose centuries of banking expertise in analyzing loans and risks. If banks are perceived to be providing loans to the governments and large corporations ignoring the personal loans and/or small business, alternative systems will grow provoking serious consequences for depositors as well as for the system itself, unless there is a way to re-gain the lost confidence. My generation (and my mother's before me) grew up watching It's a Wonderful Life in tears every Christmas eve. The classic film offers an eloquent lesson in how much good a bank can do for a community. For decades it has been the most avidly watched Christmas film. Deep down many of us believe that, as James Stewart puts it, "A good bank is the one that does good to its community and a bad Bank is the one that feeds the avarice of corrupt individuals." Simple but powerful. For traditional banks, the clock is ticking. But it's not too late.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: Cynthia H. Akuetteh – Ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Department of State Eric T. Schultz – Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Department of State David J. Arroyo – Member, Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Camilla C. Feibelman – Member, Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation President Obama also announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts: Leslie Greene Bowman – Member, Committee for the Preservation of the White House Wendy A. Cooper – Member, Committee for the Preservation of the White House President Obama said, “These dedicated and accomplished individuals will be valued additions to my Administration as we tackle the important challenges facing America. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.” President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: Cynthia H. Akuetteh, Nominee for Ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, Department of State Cynthia H. Akuetteh, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State (DOS), a position she has held since 2012. From 2011 to 2012, Ms. Akuetteh was the Director in the Office of Europe, Middle East and Africa in the Bureau of Energy Resources at DOS. From 2009 to 2011, she was the Director in the Office of Central African Affairs at DOS. Ms. Akuetteh served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 2007 to 2009 and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 2005 to 2007. Prior to this, from 2004 to 2005, Ms. Akuetteh was the Deputy Director in the Office of Economic Policy Staff for the Bureau of African Affairs at DOS. Other notable positions held by Ms. Akuetteh include: Deputy Division Chief and Economic/Commercial Officer in the Bureau of Economic Affairs; Senior Venezuela Desk Officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Trade Policy Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Prior to serving at DOS, Ms. Akuetteh was the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps program in Ghana. Ms. Akuetteh received a B.A. from C.W. Post College of Long Island University and an M.A. from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University. Eric T. Schultz, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Department of State Eric T. Schultz, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2010 to 2013. Previously, Mr. Schultz was the Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia from 2007 to 2009. From 2004 to 2007, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe. Prior to this, from 2002 to 2004, Mr. Schultz was the Deputy Director in the Office of European Security Policy at the Department of State. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Schultz served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. He was the Deputy Director for Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Belarusian Affairs from 1998 to 2000 and the Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia from 1996 to 1998. Mr. Schultz received a B.A. from Macalester College and an M.A. from the University of Denver. David J. Arroyo, Nominee for Member, Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting David J. Arroyo is Senior Vice President for Legal Affairs at Scripps Networks Interactive, where he has worked since 2004. Previously, from 2000 to 2004, Mr. Arroyo was an associate at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He served as Chairman of the Board of Latino Justice (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) from 2008 to 2012. He was recognized in 2012 by the Imagen Foundation as among the most influential Latinos in entertainment, and in 2010, he received the Luminary Award from the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. Mr. Arroyo received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Camilla C. Feibelman, Nominee for Member, Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Camilla C. Feibelman is Director of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, a position she has held since May 2013. Since first joining the Sierra Club in 2001, she has held various positions including Field Organizer in the Puerto Rico Office, Deputy Press Secretary for Diversity Programs, and Spanish Language/Environmental Justice Media Coordinator. From 2000 to 2001, she was the National Director of the Sierra Club’s Sierra Student Coalition. She was a Fulbright Scholar in 1998 and a Morris K. Udall Scholar in 1997. Ms. Feibelman received a B.A. in Environmental Biology from Columbia University and an M.P. in Urban Planning from the University of Puerto Rico. President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts: Leslie Greene Bowman, Appointee for Member, Committee for the Preservation of the White House Leslie Greene Bowman is President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello in Charlottesville, VA, a position she has held since 2008. Previously, she was Director and CEO of the Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, DE. From 1981 to 1997, she served in various curatorial and management positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Ms. Bowman is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She previously served on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House from 1995 to 2009, and from 2002 to 2008 she served on the Board of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She was awarded the Gold Good Citizenship Medal from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in 2012. Ms. Bowman received a B.Phil. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and an M.A. from the Winterthur Program of the University of Delaware. Wendy A. Cooper, Appointee for Member, Committee for the Preservation of the White House Wendy A. Cooper is Curator Emerita of Furniture at the Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, Delaware, and was Curator of Furniture there from 1995 to 1999, and the Lois F. and Henry S. McNeil Senior Curator of Furniture from 1999 to 2013. Previously, she was Curator of Decorative Arts at The Baltimore Museum of Art from 1987 to 1995. She was a guest curator for the permanent installation of Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection at the National Gallery of Art. She previously served as a Member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House from 1990 to 2009. She has also held positions at The Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Colonial Williamsburg. Ms. Cooper received a B.A. from Pembroke College in Brown University and an M.A. from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware.
Last week my father received a phone call from the branch director of his long-standing bank to offer him a new product. My father, instead of listening with confidence to the advice of a trustworthy agent, was immediately suspicious. He dreaded another 30-page prospectus full of small print — and another potential trap. My father’s experience is mirrored all over the world. Millions of people have lost confidence in banks. But the dissatisfaction and disappointment with our banks runs deeper. The last bank in my hometown closed a year ago. After serving the community for more than thirty years, it was no longer seen as economically viable. Another casualty of cost cutting, it simply closed its doors — even though local people and businesses that had used that bank all their lives still relied upon it. Again, this story is repeated around the world. This, we are told (in expensive TV ads), is progress. A global world needs global banks — whether we as their local customers like it or not. But something has been lost along the way. Even before the banking crisis of 2008, something was gradually, but undeniably, in decline. Trust. Millions of savers and borrowers listened (and still listen) to reports of record profits at their bank — even as they are told their local branch is closing to save costs. The two facts do not add up. Today, the belief among ordinary account holders that banks are there to serve us has all but disappeared. Where once they were regarded as pillars of the community, banks are increasingly seen as the unpalatable face of big business. In many cases, banks have sacrificed the needs of the local community — and indeed the belief in the community ideal — in the scramble to go global. That globalization has come at the cost of local service. What the banks seem to have forgotten is that the global village is made up of millions of local communities. (The banking sector is not alone in this. In industry after industry, companies have gone global with something approaching abandon, often with little regard for the local communities that gave them life.) So, why is this and does it matter? And, perhaps more importantly, can anything be done to fill the yawning gap in local communities all over the world? My research suggests that there is a viable alternative to local banks. It is something I call community financing. Community financing refers to a form of cash-flow that channels the financial resources of the savers of a community into the well-being of that community via economic activities, which members of the community believe should be undertaken and therefore willingly supports with their savings. There are many examples of Community Finance initiatives around the world, some large some small. Think of Kiva, Kickstarter, or microlending. But it’s not all about internet startups or social enterprise. One of my favorites is the story of the JAK Members Bank (or JAK Medlemsbank), a co-operative member-owned financial institution based in Skovde, Sweden. The bank does not participate in capital markets; all of its loans are raised solely from member savings. In 2011, JAK had assets (savings) of 131 million Euros and 38,000 members, who are each allowed one share in the bank and determine its policies and direction. JAK relies on the “saving points” system — members accrue points for saving and use them to apply for a loan. The idea is that you are allowed to take out a loan for yourself to the same extent that you allow other people to receive loans. The bank uses a simple accounting rule to ensure its own sustainability: overall, earned savings points must equal spent savings point. JAK does not charge or pay interest on any of its loans (a principle it shares with Islamic banking). To see how this works in practice, consider a true story. An entrepreneur in the small community of Skatteungby, some 300 kilometers from Stockholm, asked the JAK Bank for a loan to develop a shop. Although he remained ultimately responsible for paying back the loan, the project was able to go ahead because he enjoyed the support of individuals within the community who wanted the shop. Enough people in his local community made a deposit from their personal savings into the account to finance the shop, fulfilling the saving schema that JAK requires for granting a loan. In this scheme, the risk stays at the bank, the responsibility of repayment to goes to the entrepreneur, and the community foregoes the potential gain in interest in their deposits in exchange for having a local activity in the town desirable by many of their members. This is one of the sharing risks schemes that characterize community finance. Such initiatives are now on the increase around the world, not just in emerging economies but in the developed economies of the West. They offer a fresh approach to financing local businesses and providing local banking services. They also offer a chance of redemption for the traditional banking system. Let me explain. Since modern banking began in the 17th century to offer a channel from people’s deposits to people’s needs, the number of people using the banking system has grown steadily reaching percentages of more than 90 percent of bank users in countries such as the U.S. or the UK, making it difficult for citizens to believe that we could do without them. But, since the beginning of the 20th century, different crises of liquidity and debt have given banks a bad reputation.The growing distrust of conventional banks is provoking an outflow of deposits to entities outside the conventional banks and even some outside the regulated system in different crowd-finance platforms, peer-to-peer lending systems and cooperative lending entities. These initiatives are suddenly becoming popular. They provide micro lending services to local community businesses. Some such as Accion in the USA , or Fondo de Solidaridad de Granada, have been around for years. Others, such as “Bank on Dave” in the UK are newer. Elsewhere, other alternative community financing initiatives are underway. For example, new technologies have made it possible to develop crowd sourcing lending platforms, such as Kickstarter in the USA, or or Goteo in Spain , for peer-to-peer financial services. Some of these initiatives are regulated by financial authorities, some leave on the margins as private associations, but all are becoming increasingly popular to fill the gap left by traditional banking. In parallel financial inclusion, through financial literacy or providing banking services to financial excluded communities are part of the new landscape such as Kenya Post Office Savings Bank. The fact that people may trust more an unknown virtual platform in the web than its neighboring bank is not as crazy as we might think, if we consider that default rates of some of these systems are estimated to be less than two percent when the banking system might get as high as eight percent or even 10 percent in the case of credit cards. And yet can we seriously envision that the next level of finance, at least for the personal loans or small business, will leave the banks? And do we really want it to? If this happens, the long process to provide the financial system with regulation and security controls will be undermined, and we would lose centuries of banking expertise in analyzing loans and risks. If banks are perceived to be providing loans to the governments and large corporations ignoring the personal loans and/or small business, alternative systems will grow provoking serious consequences for depositors as well as for the system itself, unless there is a way to re-gain the lost confidence. My generation (and my mother’s before me) grew up watching It’s a Wonderful Life in tears every Christmas eve. The classic film offers an eloquent lesson in how much good a bank can do for a community. For decades it has been the most avidly watched Christmas film. Deep down many of us believe that, as James Stewart puts it, “A good bank is the one that does good to its community and a bad Bank is the one that feeds the avarice of corrupt individuals.” Simple but powerful. For traditional banks, the clock is ticking. But it’s not too late.
Three senators with significant energy policy portfolios introduced legislation yesterday that would encourage more U.S.-Israel collaboration on developing Israel's large offshore natural gas reserves. The bill rolled out by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would encourage U.S.-sponsored research programs such as the National Science Foundation, academic institutions and U.S. energy companies to work with Israel on the development of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Israel has an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that, if developed, could supply Israel's expanding energy needs and help supply Jordan and Turkey. Two large gas fields are being explored and developed by Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. and its Israeli partners, Delek Drilling Ltd. Partnership, Avner Oil Exploration LP and Isramco Negev 2 LP. The largest of the offshore formations is called Leviathan and is estimated to hold 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. To put that into perspective, the U.S. economy consumes about 25 trillion cubic feet a year of gas. For the far smaller nation of Israel, analysts say further development of its offshore gas bounty would be an economic boon and a geopolitical gain. "If the Israelis can pull it off, there would be huge security benefits for Israel and its neighbors," said David Goldwyn, a former U.S. State Department global energy affairs coordinator. Still, the prospect of exporting Israeli gas throughout the region or to Asia has been hotly debated within Israel. Mirroring aspects of a similar debate taking place in the United States, Israel's top court and government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are considering how much gas should remain in Israel to ensure its energy security and boost domestic industries. Noble has encouraged the government to agree to liquefied natural gas exports.The mid-sized Houston oil and gas explorer has said exporting some of the gas at a higher global price is needed for Leviathan's development to be economical for project investors. If the gas stays in Israel, the state-run utility could be the project's sole supply contract, a prospect that tends to discourage large-scale investments in risky oil and gas exploration. With ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, Israel has had trouble attracting investors among multinational oil and gas companies. A 'new layer of risk ' "The reality is that offshore drilling is the most dangerous sector in oil and gas, and doing it in the Middle East, offshore Israel, adds a whole layer of risk," said Gal Luft, co-director of the Potomac, Md.-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. "The big multinationals are not interested in getting into this game at this stage." Goldwyn said that up to this point, the U.S. government has remained at arm's length, offering Israel insights into the potential pros and cons of exporting gas but steering clear of domestic politics. Noble and its Israeli partners are awaiting an Israeli court's decision about gas exports but have continued to press ahead with exploration. Yesterday, the partnership announced it would start drilling in a third field, called Eran, which is off Israel's northern coast. Israel is already getting gas from its offshore Tamar field, after the Israel Electric Corp. signed a 15-year contract last year to buy gas from the Noble-led producers. In statements accompanying the proposal on Capitol Hill, Landrieu talked about the potential for Israel to "achieve energy independence" and her state of Louisiana's potential role in advancing Israel's gas reserves. "The Gulf Coast arguably has the most advanced offshore oil and gas industry in the world, and we are uniquely qualified to lead the effort to help Israel develop this source," she said. The legislation "recognizes energy cooperation between the two countries as a strategic interest of the United States," according to the bill summary. Further, it encourages collaboration on "energy innovation technology, technology transfer, and analysis of geopolitical implications of new natural resource development." The Landrieu-Wyden-Murkowski bid for U.S.-Israel energy cooperation also encourages government-to-government collaboration on developing Israel's environmental management and regulatory best practices. It also allows cooperative agreements between the U.S. Energy Department and Israel and expands existing grant programs such as the Binational Industrial Research and Development Program (BIRD) to include natural gas-focused projects. Joel Kirkland, E&E reporter Republished from EnergyWire with permission. EnergyWire covers the politics and business of unconventional energy. Click here for a free trial Copyright E&E Publishing
Conservative party chairman's letter to UN lambasts Raquel Rolnik for her recommendation that bedroom tax should be axedA government minister has made a formal complaint to the UN, accusing the its special rapporteur on housing of political bias and calling for her to withdraw her report on UK housing conditions, in which she calls on the government to suspend its bedroom tax.In a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the Conservative party chairman and minister without portfolio Grant Shapps demanded an investigation into the actions of the UN's rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik, complaining that she had not met the relevant ministers or officials to discuss the policy.Rolnik said there were no grounds for a complaint, and that she had received the full cooperation of the UK government throughout her visit. She gave details of meetings on welfare reform she had with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government, as well as meetings with two DCLG ministers.She was puzzled by the formal letter of complaint, remarking: "Maybe the comments came from someone who is not well informed about UN human rights mechanisms and is not informed about his own government."Shapps's unusual intervention was the culmination of a furious response from the government to Rolnik's preliminary report on housing conditions in Britain, in which she detailed her concerns at the impact of welfare reform on "the most vulnerable" in UK society. She called for the bedroom tax (whereby council tenants are lose benefit for under-occupying homes deemed too large for their needs) to be suspended pending a full re-evaluation of its "impact on the right to adequate housing and general well-being of many vulnerable individuals".In a letter on Conservative party-headed paper, addressed to Ban, Shapps said the UK's legal system had already ruled that the policy ending the spare room subsidy was lawful."I am therefore extremely surprised and disappointed to learn that the UN has directly contradicted the decisions of our courts", he wrote, suggesting "the UN withdrew Rolnik's claims on the bedroom tax pending a full investigation."In broadcast interviews Shapps described the report as "an absolute disgrace", said that Rolnik had not been invited by the government, and had not researched her subject adequately. He questioned "how it is that a woman from Brazil has come over, a country that has 50 million in inadequate housing" to report on housing conditions in Britain.Rolnik had not sought to meet work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, or officials responsible for the policy on the spare room subsidy, he claimed.Rolnik responded that she had requested meetings with DWP ministers, but said her agenda had been organised by the UK government, which had organised meetings both with Eric Pickles, communities secretary, and Don Foster, DCLG the under secretary. "The whole mission was organised by the government. It was not only that I was invited but also the UK government was completely involved in the organisation. More than half of the meetings here, [were] meetings with government officials. They also facilitated me to meet with local councils," she said, adding that the DWP had also sent her information and had been helpful in responding to her questions.Shapps demanded to know the process leading to the commissioning of the report and said her use of the term "bedroom tax", (rather than the government's policy description – "ending the spare room subsidy") revealed political bias. She later apologised for using the shorthand, saying: "Since I arrived here everybody was saying that … I didn't have any agenda before coming here."Her trip had been organised according to strict UN protocol, as had fact-finding missions to the US, Spain, Rwanda, and Indonesia, she said. "What we have done here is exactly the same thing that we have done in 11 countries. All special rapporteurs do exactly the same thing. This was a very good mission, [with] very good relations with the UK government, so there is nothing to complain about."In her preliminary report, Rolnik broadened her attack on the bedroom tax first revealed by the Guardian, to other concerns, including the effect of benefit caps and fears that decentralisation of planning laws in Northern Ireland might lead to "increased sectarianism and discrimination". She warned that housing benefit caps would make moving to the private rented sector increasingly difficult for those on low incomes, and complained that homes were now allowed to stand empty in London and elsewhere because they had been sold to international buyers as financial assets.The system for helping the poor in Britain had been weakened by "a series of measures over the years, notably by having privileged home-ownership over other forms of tenure", said Rolnik.She cited the government's "help to buy" scheme and failure to replace homes removed from social housing by two decades of tenants' right to buy their council homes. "It is possible to stimulate the economy and construction industry if you provide more social housing and affordable housing," Rolnik said, adding that such a recommendation would be made in her final report.She also warned over increasing stigma being shown toward Gypsies, Travellers and Roma struggling to find accommodation. She had concerns too about provision for refugees and asylum seekers. Rolnik did say Britain had set an example in the way it had renovated old social housing estates and praised its mixed communities and lack of segregation.The housing charity Shelter welcomed Rolnik's initial findings: "Shelter sees in its services each day how the bedroom tax is a deeply damaging policy. With the shortage of social homes of the right size in the right places, we know that it will be very difficult for many families to downsize, and none more so than the disabled and others with special needs. This is something the government's own Impact Assessment notes, but they have yet to make sure many vulnerable families are properly protected."Bedroom taxHousing benefitBenefitsHousingCommunitiesBan Ki-moonGrant ShappsWelfareUnited NationsHuman rightsJames MeikleAmelia Gentleman theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
A new agreement between German electric utilities company RWE and Ukrainian state oil and gas managing company Naftogaz has been signed on September 5, 2013, informed Eduard Stavytskyi, Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine, as quoted by rbc.ua. The newly signed document regulates both gas supply to Ukraine and gas storage in the Ukrainian underground facilities, reports Unian. The cooperation with a German partner is part of Ukraine's effort to diversify its gas import and strengthen national and European energy security as Ukraine is not only buying the majority of its imported gas from Russia, but is also the transit country for Russian gas traveling to Europe. MORE
TGS has commenced acquisition of 2D data in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coat of Alaska, reads a note released on Monday. “TGS is very pleased to be back in the Chukchi Sea,” said Rod Starr, Senior Vice President Western Hemisphere for TGS, referring to two surveys acquired in 2006 and 2008. The Chukchi Sea 2D 2013 survey, supported by industry funding, maps out a section of the Chukchi Sea covering approximately 8,000 km. The data will be available in the second quarter of 2014. “This project was implemented following productive cooperation with local, state and federal agencies as well as local community stakeholders. The data will provide critical subsurface information for the scheduled BOEMRE lease rounds beginning in 2016,” said Starr of the Oslo-listed firm.
Much is being made of Japan's resurgent economy, and the phenomenon of "Abenomics". In addition to the much-ballyhooed monetary and fiscal policies of Shinzo Abe, he is also promising structural reforms within the economy that may have a significant benefit for Japanese startups. As onlookers speculate about what is coming for Japan's economy, many question the role that startups will play in the economic future of the country. A look at the last 20 years of stagnation and the rigid cultural focus on large established corporations would have us keenly unoptimistic that startups will play any role in a Japanese economic recovery. Entrepreneurship brought Japan out of the post-war period and propelled it to 'first-world' status well within living memory, yet those lessons appear to be forgotten. More recent decades have seen entrepreneurship activity on a downward trend. The GEM 2012 (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) survey published this year shows Japan in last place among developed nations for entrepreneurial activity, with only 6% of Japanese believing that there is opportunity for new startups in the economy. While the picture is grim, and has been so for years, there is hope. Particularly with the current government's promises to make entrepreneurship more approachable, change may be on the way. Among the promises is to make it easier for would-be entrepreneurs to secure traditional loans without having to endure very tightly constructed personal guarantees - putting all of their personal assets on the line to start a business. On another front, the powerful industry ministry is promising to infuse capital at unprecedented levels for startups. These changes are not guaranteed, but would certainly be welcomed by those observers that can see the opportunity and economic vitality that Japan sacrifices for want of a more startup-friendly environment. Ultimately, would startups really make a difference in an economy such as Japan's? To hope that startups could make a much needed change to the Japanese economy is to put the cart before the horse. Startups themselves are simply an expression of the often hidden dynamics at work beneath the covers, deep in the depths of an economy. When we see startups flourishing they are the output and signal that the economy itself is structured in such a way that a number of vital processes are at work: Trust, cooperation, capital flow, and most of all, innovation. Startups are an emergent property of a society that is ‘getting it right’ in a number of economic and sociodynamic regimes. That being the case, Startups in and of themselves are not as important as fostering the critical elements that lead to them: Trust, a cultural tolerance for failure, fluid access to capital, a pool of willing technical talent, enforceable intellectual property laws, and feedback mechanisms through markets to reward innovation come together to create a dynamic system which can be the engine of tremendous value creation. (Among these attributes, Japan struggles most with the first 3.) A dramatic increase of startup activity in Japan may indeed herald a long-term turnaround for the Japanese economy - but will not be the cause of it. As emergent phenomena dependent on the environment, a sharp increase in the number of successful Japanese startups will be a key economic indicator of the real turnaround that Shinzo Abe has promised.
Energy Analysis PublicationsOnsite ResearchThe National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), part of DOE’s national laboratory system, is owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). NETL supports DOE’s mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States.NETL implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental research and development (R&D) programs that will return benefits for generations to come:Enabling domestic coal, natural gas, and oil to economically power our Nation’s homes, industries, businesses, and transportation …While protecting our environment and enhancing our energy independence.NETL has expertise in coal, natural gas, and oil technologies, contract and project management, analysis of energy systems, and international energy issues.In addition to research conducted onsite, NETL’s project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual arrangements with universities and the private sector. Together, these efforts focus a wealth of scientific and engineering talent on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems.http://www.netl.doe.gov/about/index.html
The G-20 is the world’s premier forum for economic cooperation – where Leaders representing economies generating more than 80 percent of global GDP assemble around the table to address the world’s most important and difficult economic challenges. This year’s St. Petersburg G-20 Summit – the seventh that President Obama has attended since taking office – has reaffirmed the G-20’s leadership as the premier forum at which the major countries coordinate their economic policies to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth and to address global challenges that no country can tackle alone. This year, G-20 Leaders were united in the belief that promoting growth and creating better-quality jobs is their top economic policy priority. Leaders also agreed on a number of specific steps to strengthen the global economy, address climate change, fill holes in the international tax system, expand trade, strengthen nuclear industry liability, improve workplace safety, combat corruption, and promote global development. Among the most significant agreements were: to phase down the production and consumption of a potent category of greenhouse gases (hydrofluorocarbons) through the Montreal Protocol, a mechanism with a proven track record of success. to work together to address international tax evasion, to fix tax rules that allow multinational companies to avoid paying tax anywhere, and to support efforts by less developed countries to strengthen their revenue collection. to achieve a strong multilateral trade agreement this December, with trade facilitation at its core, and to extend the standstill on protectist trade measures for an additional two years through 2016. Building a Stronger Global Economy through Jobs and Growth The St. Petersburg Summit marks another milestone in the recovery from the global financial crisis that first erupted five years ago this month. Thanks in part to decisive action by the G-20, this Summit was the first in several years not to take place under the looming threat of financial crisis; instead, G-20 Leaders were focused on securing and deepening the gains we have made – and the key role of growth and jobs in this effort. Crucially, the United States is a source of strength for the global economy because we’ve focused on creating jobs and growth. All told, our businesses have created a total of 7.5 million new jobs over the past 42 months. We have cleared away the rubble of the financial crisis and put in place new rules to strengthen our banks and reduce the chance of another financial crisis. At the same time, the United States is getting its fiscal house in order, with deficits falling at the fastest rate in 60 years. Yet, even given this progress, both at home and around the world, G-20 Leaders came to St. Petersburg mindful of the challenges that remain – and reached a consensus on how to proceed, agreeing that our focus needs to be on creating the growth and jobs that put people back to work. They agreed to a St. Petersburg Action Plan with growth and job creation at its core: Focusing on job creation. All G-20 countries will present jobs plans at next year’s G-20 Summit in Brisbane. Reinforcing economic stability in Europe. The Euro Area committed to strengthen the foundations for economic and monetary union, including through further efforts to strengthen bank balance sheets, reduce financial fragmentation and moving ahead decisively and without delay toward a banking union. Advanced G-20 countries also agreed to maintain a flexible approach in implementing their fiscal strategies, while remaining committed to sustainable public finances. Managing emerging market volatility. Facing increased financial volatility, emerging economies agreed to take the necessary actions to maintain stability – including efforts to improve their economic fundamentals, increase resilience to external shocks, and strengthen financial systems. Coordinating reforms to promote growth. All G-20 nations committed to cooperate to ensure that policies implemented to support growth at home will also support global growth and financial stability and to push ahead more urgently with important structural reforms, in order to strengthen the foundations for long-term growth. Rebalancing the global economy. All G-20 nations reiterated their commitment to move more rapidly toward more market-determined exchange rate systems and exchange-rate flexibility. Confronting Climate Change Addressing Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). G-20 Leaders committed to using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. This commitment marks an important step forward toward addressing HFCs – highly potent greenhouse gases that are rapidly increasing in use – through the proven mechanism of the Montreal Protocol. Phasing down HFCs would yield enormous climate benefits, reducing as much as 90 gigatons of CO2 equivalent between now and 2050, or roughly two years of global greenhouse gas emissions at current levels. Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Building on the commitment made at the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit in 2009 to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsides, G-20 Leaders agreed on the methodology for a new peer-review process of fossil fuel subsidies, an important step in combatting climate change: the International Energy Agency estimates that eliminating subsidies – which amount to more than $500 billion annually – would lead to a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below business-as-usual by 2050. Building Stronger International Tax Standards Fighting tax evasion. G-20 Leaders committed to fight cross-border tax evasion, requiring financial institutions to learn where their customers are resident for tax purposes and report that information to tax authorities. This measure will help to stop tax cheats from hiding their money in foreign bank accounts. The G-20 committed to make automatic exchange of information between tax authorities – based on the U.S. FATCA legislation – the single, new global standard, with automatic exchange of information expected to begin by the end of 2015. Ending tax avoidance. G-20 Leaders endorsed an ambitious action plan to change national tax rules that encourage multinational companies to shift their profits to low- or no-tax jurisdictions, allowing them not to pay tax on much of their income. Opening Doors to Greater Global Trade Supporting a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. With its support for a strong outcome at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, with a trade facilitation agreement at its core, G-20 Leaders reaffirmed the significance of the WTO to the multilateral trading system. Combating protectionism. Protectionist trade barriers weaken trade and investment. That is why the G-20 Leaders committed to extending their commitment to refrain from protectionist measures for two more years through 2016. Establishing a Global Nuclear Liability Regime Recognizing that countries may opt for nuclear power as a part of their energy mix, G-20 Leaders called for a commitment to nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation and reiterated the call for the establishment of a global nuclear liability regime to ensure appropriate and swift compensation for nuclear damage in the case of a nuclear accident. Improving Global Labor Conditions Given the recurring loss to human life across the world on account of unsafe working places, G-20 Leaders directed the G-20 Task Force on Employment to partner with ILO in consultation with countries, and to consider how the G-20 might contribute to safer workplaces. Strengthening Global Anti-Corruption Efforts G-20 Leaders endorsed a number of anti-corruption initiatives: Beneficial Ownership: The G-20 endorsed action to ensure greater transparency about shell companies, which can be misused to facilitate illicit financial flows stemming from corruption, tax evasion, and money laundering. Mutual Legal Assistance: To facilitate cooperation, G-20 countries adopted high-level principles on mutual legal assistance. These will be implemented in accordance with each country’s legal system. Foreign Bribery: To promote better business environments, the G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group finalized two sets of principles on enforcing anti-bribery commitments and on addressing solicitation of bribes. Asset Recovery: To facilitate the return of moneys taken though the proceeds of corruption, G-20 countries agreed to assess their laws and procedures against high level asset recovery principles and to produce publicly available guides on their asset recovery regimes – inspired by a U.S.-led G-8 initiative. Promoting Global Development, Food Security, and Public Health Development. The G-20 set the course for its future work on core development priorities: food security, financial inclusion and remittances, infrastructure, human resource development and domestic resource mobilization. Leaders expressed their strong support for the elaboration of a post-2015 development agenda. Food Security. In 2013, the G-20 held the Second Meeting of Chief Agricultural Scientists (MACS) to improve global food security. The MACS works to strengthen collaborative research in priority areas and to intensify sustainable agricultural production to meet the world’s increasing demands for healthy, safe and nutritious food. The G-20’s Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) is generating greater food market transparency and coordination of policies in response to market uncertainty. Global Public Health. To respond to the human and economic threat of emerging infectious diseases, including current H7N9 Influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) outbreaks, the G-20 called upon countries to improve rapid and effective responses to public health threats and to strengthening compliance with the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations.
A year ago, it was common for energy executives, regulators and critics to marvel at the sense of whiplash they felt from the extraordinary revival of North American natural gas production. Technology shifts long in the making but broadly below the radar of markets underpinned an expansion of the fuel’s market share amid low pricing analysts almost universally failed to predict. For a short while in the wake of high oil prices followed by a highly complex boom in renewable energy development from a low base, natural gas was the “wonder fuel.” As it slipped seemingly without challenge to a new leading place in the US energy future, predictions abounded for falling greenhouse gas emissions as coal was displaced, of natural gas car fleets freeing the US from dependence on Opec imports, and of a manufacturing renaissance seemingly already in the making. The debate over the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in developed areas of the continent long ignored by natural resource developers was an early indication that the dream of natural gas as the perfect fuel couldn’t last forever, and that it would eventually come under the same kind of scrutiny that development of other resources already labor under. Companies only a few years ago marked out as the biggest natural gas boosters have backed away from their most enthusiastic production forecasts, with prices, infrastructure constraints and – that permanent shadow of energy investment – regulatory uncertainty, all dimming the probably always overenthusiastic promises of a natural gas-led economy for North America. Counterintuitively, this new phase of understanding the complexity of challenges in natural gas development is actually a good thing for well-managed companies and energy executives with experience of the sector. As real projects – including the natural gas export facility licenses that the Department of Energy has finally cleared Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass and Freeport’s owners to proceed with – are built, operational excellence and competent execution become more important than the easily-debunked promises of a swift shift in the North American energy economy. “Natural gas guys” – as they call them in the sector – are different. Long second string to their counterparts in oilfields, even when employees of the same firm – they are accustomed to the faster development cycles, the localized market conditions and the extreme competition that came from being a smaller business with less of a global footprint. They have traditionally been less tied to the national governments that use oil companies as funding mechanisms, and are traditionally more entrepreneurial and less stakeholder-oriented. It is instructive that iconic figures like T. Boone Pickens are now in the natural gas business years after their oil fields went corporate, and that the most controversial figures in the energy business today are natural gas guys. As the business grows in terms of market share and importance, the leaders of the natural gas business will be under pressure to change, to – as one executive said at a recent industry event in New York – “join the Matrix.” As befits their independent status, natural gas leaders have not generally had the same kind of conference and event footprint that oil commands. That, too, is changing. The North American Gas Forum, hosted by Energy Dialogues LLC and for which Breaking Energy is a media partner, is scheduled for September 30-October 1 in Washington, DC and will feature high profile speakers not just from gas firms, their service providers and natural gas buyers, but from industry giants like ExxonMobil and high-profile representatives from government, regulatory authorities and industry associations, all dealing with the impact of the shifts in the natural gas market. Panels at the North American Gas Forum that feature “North American leaders [debating] opportunities and challenges of cooperation and integration” or “North America’s role and geopolitical shifts underpinning the energy world” underline both the changing reality of the natural gas business and the urgency on the part of executives like Chevron Vice President of Supply and Trading Greg Vesey to discuss ways the sector can actively lead into the North American energy future. The North American Gas Forum is “a unique platform in that it is more of a dialogue than other events and attracts key decision makers that provide great opportunities for networking and to hear the latest views on policies and industry developments,” UOP Honeywell Strategic Marketing Director Gas Processing and Hydrogen Guy Lewis told Energy Dialogues LLC recently. Lewis is set to speak at the conference. “There are so many different things going on in our industry, it is important to be aware of them and get to know who the people are that are working on them,” GDF Suez Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations Guy Braden told Energy Dialogues LLC. “Natural gas will be a significant form of energy for as far out in the future as our planning considers. If it is a bridge fuel, the bridge is likely quite long.” This article by Peter Gardett first appeared on breakingenergy.com To find out more about the North American Gas Forum visit its website here, and to participate in discussions ahead of the event join the Energy Dialogues LinkedIn grouphere.
By James Mackenzie ROME, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Of all the statistics available on Italy and its varied economic problems, few are as eye-opening as the fact that at around 1 p.m on any given day, three quarters of the population will normally be sitting down to lunch in their own homes. According to data from statistics agency ISTAT, lunch is the most important meal of the day for 68 percent of Italians and 74.3 percent usually eat it at home, a figure which has grown as a long recession has hit spending on food and eating out. As anyone who has seen the shuttered afternoon streets of a small Italian town knows, it can be hard to get much done at lunchtime in Italy, even though many shops and businesses stay open until relatively late in the evening to compensate. "It's very important to Italians to eat something proper, sitting down, even if it's just a plate of spaghetti," said Pamela Iorio, a physiotherapist, as she shopped for fruit and vegetables in her local suburban market in Rome. "People don't like just eating sandwiches." But behind the well-known importance of mealtimes, lies a picture of a country whose justly celebrated culinary tradition is matched by a crippling set of problems which have resisted reform and given it one of the most sluggish economies in the world for more than a decade. While mealtimes reflect the enduring strength of the family in Italy, a big factor in maintaining social stability, they are also kept alive by the fact that so few people go out to work and by the dominance of small and often uncompetitive firms. Take its chronically low employment rate, especially of women, who tend to be at home more than men, and especially in the poorer Mezzogiorno region of southern Italy, where as many as 86 percent of people normally have lunch in their own house. Eating at home in the middle of the day is easier if you don't have to be at work and only 57 percent of working-aged people in Italy have a paid job, compared with an average of 66 percent for the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. For women, traditionally in charge of cooking and housework, only 47 percent have a paid job, compared with the OECD average of 60 percent. The figures are even more accentuated in the south where in the three big regions of Sicily, Calabria and Campania, more than 60 percent of working age people are not in regular paid employment, according to ISTAT data. "Most people my age in the south, even if they're qualified professionals, eat at home because they don't work and spend most of their time looking for a job," said Walter Medolla, a 31-year old worker for a voluntary association in Naples. SMALL TOWNS, SMALL COMPANIES The low level of employment is not the only thing that makes regular mealtimes at home possible for so many people. Another is the large number who work in small towns, often for tiny companies which close down during the lunch hour. "Obviously Milan, Turin or Rome would have many more who eat away from home," said Paolo Corvo, who teaches Sociology at University of Gastronomic Sciences, a specialist institute near the northern city of Turin. "But Italy is made up of small towns and tradition, especially in the south where many women don't have jobs but instead stay at home and value cooking for their husbands, plays a big part in this," he said. According to figures from ISTAT, more than 9.2 million people, or some 42 percent of the 22 million Italians in employment, work for companies with no more than 15 employees, a sector long seen as too small to be properly competitive. A recent Bank of Italy study found companies with fewer than 10 employees, many weak, undercapitalised and not very profitable, accounted for a heavier share of the economy in Italy than in any other country in Europe and acted as a major drag on economic efficiency. Again the tendency is more pronounced in southern Italy, where there are relatively few big private sector employers, than in the north, the country's industrial heartland. However even leaving aside the benefits of home cooking and a healthy diet, the lunchtime tradition also points to the strength of family networks in Italy, a factor which has become more important during the country's longest postwar recession. As well as proving a home for young people who cannot afford to set up on their own, family support is all that many people have to rely on if they lose their job in a country where unemployment support is very limited. There are also other intangible benefits which may require careful thought if economic reform is not to force Italians, like so many others, to end up queuing in a works canteen or hunched over a computer screen with a plastic-wrapped sandwich. "There's been a change since the 1970s when pretty much everyone would have eaten at home," said Corvo. "But even so, Italy is still a country where you can see the differences between north and south, city and small town and where every region has its own food traditions." (Additional reporting by Amalia De Simone in Naples; Editing by Jon Boyle)
Многоотраслевая компания Eaton Corporation plc объявила о рекордных результатах продаж и показателях операционной прибыли во втором квартале, обусловленных приобретением компании Cooper Industries. Объем продаж за указанный период составил 5,6$ млрд., что на 38% выше аналогичного показателя 2012 года. Операционная прибыль за второй квартал 2013 года без учёта издержек на интеграцию недавних приобретений в размере 39$ млн. составила 519$ млн., что на 32% выше, чем в 2012 году. Операционная прибыль на акцию равна 1,09$, не включая расходы 0,05$ на акцию для интеграции последних приобретений. Объём продаж сегмента "Электротехническая продукция" после приобретения компании Cooper Industries составил 1,8$ млрд., превышая на 95% показатель второго квартала 2012 года. Операционная выручка составила 284$ млн., с учетом издержек на интеграцию приобретений в размере 12$ млн., что на 88% больше, чем в 2012 году.
By SA Editor Miriam Metzinger: Stocks discussed on the in-depth session of Jim Cramer's Mad Money TV Program, Monday, April 29. CEO Interview: Sandy Cutler, Eaton (ETN) "There is more to earnings than geography. What matters is execution." Cramer owns Eaton (ETN) for his charitable trust, mainly because he believes in ETN's ability to execute, primarily through its tried and tested CEO Sandy Cutler. The company made a successful acquisition of Cooper Industries, which gives it more exposure to electricity. Now electrics make up 60% of sales. ETN beat the Street's estimates by 5 cents with revenues that were a bit light. Sandy Cutler described Europe as "molasses" in terms of growth, Asia as somewhat good and the U.S. pretty good. ETN predicts it can grow by 8% this year. Cutler mentioned that sales were up 34% and profits rose 28%. "We are off to a solid start," in a challenging environment, Cutler said. Management Complete Story »