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19 сентября 2013, 09:02

Learning from Lehman: Lessons for Emerging Markets from the Financial Crisis

Originally appeared at the Fung Global Institute By Liu Mingkang When the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed five years ago, emerging-market economies did not hold many of the toxic financial assets – mainly American subprime mortgages – that fueled the subsequent global financial crisis. But they were deeply affected by the drop in world trade, which recorded a peak-to-trough decline of at least 15 per cent, with trade finance also contracting sharply, owing to a shortage of dollar liquidity. Have policymakers responded appropriately since then? Soon after the crisis erupted, the G-20 countries embraced massive stimulus packages, unconventional monetary policies in the advanced economies, and major institutional efforts, such as the Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation in the United States and the Basel III initiative to strengthen banking standards. China’s RMB4 trillion stimulus package, unveiled in November 2008, restored confidence in global commodity markets. Led by strong Chinese growth, emerging markets stabilized. Since 2009, quantitative easing (QE) by the U.S. Federal Reserve has resulted in record-low interest rates around the world. But, while the resulting surge in capital flows to emerging markets stimulated economic growth, it also inflated asset bubbles. Now, with the Fed publicly considering an end to its massive, open-ended purchases of long-term securities and foreign capital fleeing home from emerging markets, many fear that Asia’s economies could come crashing down, as they did in the late 1990’s. Leverage in some emerging markets’ household and corporate sectors has reached record levels. China’s annual economic growth has slowed to around 7.5 per cent, while Indonesia and India – and, outside Asia, Brazil and South Africa – are experiencing sharp downward pressure on their exchange rates. Moreover, there has been no major reform of the global financial architecture. China’s renminbi is internationalizing, but its share of global payments remains relatively small, with the dollar retaining its role as the world’s main reserve currency. And, while regulatory reform is progressing, its effectiveness in addressing the weaknesses exposed by the global financial crisis will depend not only on the new rules that emerge, but also on the consistency and quality of their implementation. There has been commendable progress on the Basel III capital requirements for banks, with 25 of 27 Basel Committee members having issued final rules. Likewise, the impact of regulatory changes resulting from major legislation and policy directives in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom on banking, insurance, financial-transaction taxes, anti-money laundering, and cyber-space is likely to be substantial. Although rules on shadow banking have yet to be formulated, another problem exposed by the crisis has abated: America’s external deficit has shrunk to a much more manageable 2-3 per cent of GDP, accompanied by drops in the surpluses run by Japan and China. Global trade rebalancing has arrived. Still, fiscal conditions in the advanced economies remain unsustainable, with many OECD members’ debt levels hovering around 100 per cent of GDP. Japan, which has one of the world’s highest debt/GDP ratios, currently well over 200 per cent, is engaging in a risky experiment with further monetary stimulus to try to target 2 per cent annual inflation. In many advanced economies, both monetary and fiscal policies have reached the limits of their effectiveness. The key questions now are whether global economic growth is self-sustaining without QE, whether emerging markets’ output will continue to rise strongly, albeit at a slower pace, and whether current global financial-reform efforts will be sufficient to prevent another crisis in emerging markets. Given the high degree of trade and financial globalization that now characterizes the world economy, there is no doubt that the slowdown in the advanced economies, which account for two-thirds of global GDP, will undermine emerging-country growth. Indeed, the threat to withdraw QE is already having an enormous impact on emerging economies’ asset markets. As real interest rates and risk premia begin to rise, the level of global trade and investment will decline. In the coming years, emerging markets will most likely struggle with implementation of global financial regulatory standards, which apply mostly to more sophisticated financial markets. They will also confront a rapidly changing external environment and a growing need to manage capital flows more effectively, which will require much closer coordination between central banks and financial regulators. Indeed, perhaps the most important lesson learned in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers is that we can no longer afford to examine problems in terms of individual institutions and from regulatory “silos.” The global economy’s high degree of interconnectivity, interdependence, and complex feedback mechanisms imply that one weak hub can bring down the entire system. In other words, the world needs a systemic approach to deal with systemic risks and system failures. Unfortunately, there may be little hope of strengthening global financial governance as long as implementation and enforcement of rules remain at the national level. Like other emerging markets, China is committed to financial stability and playing its role in reforming the global financial system. China was one of the first countries to sign up to the Basel III standards, and further renminbi internationalization will be implemented in a prudent and pragmatic manner. Domestic financial reforms will focus on strengthening policy coordination and moving toward market determined interest rates and exchange-rate flexibility. All of these steps will contribute to sustainable domestic growth and a more stable global financial system. Other major emerging economies’ policymakers would be wise to act with the same purpose in mind.

11 сентября 2013, 02:14

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: Beth F. Cobert– Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget Sloan D. Gibson– Deputy Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs Heather Anne Higginbottom– Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, Department of State Jim Shelton– Deputy Secretary, Department of Education Jo Ann Rooney– Under Secretary of the Navy, Department of Defense Captain Paul Nathan Jaenichen, Sr., USN (Ret)– Administrator of the Maritime Administration, Department of Transportation David Weil– Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor John P. Carlin– Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Department of Justice Bradley Crowell– Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Energy Richard G. Frank– Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services Esther Kia’aina– Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Department of the Interior Michael D. Lumpkin– Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Department of Defense Christopher Smith– Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Department of Energy Puneet Talwar–Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Department of State Jay Williams– Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Department of Commerce Jamie Morin– Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, Department of Defense Victoria Wassmer– Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Protection Agency Larry Edward André, Jr.– Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Department of State Anthony Luzzatto Gardner– Representative of the United States to the European Union, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State Ambassador Helen Meagher La Lime– Ambassador to the Republic of Angola, Department of State Michael Anderson Lawson– Rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Department of State Luis G. Moreno– Ambassador to Jamaica, Department of State George J. Tsunis– Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway, Department of State Daniel W. Yohannes– Representative of the United States to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State Representative Barbara Lee– Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (U.S. Representative from the State of California) Representative Mark Meadows– Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (U.S. Representative from the State of North Carolina) Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley– Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Ted Strickland– Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Stephen N. Zack– Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations President Obama said, “I am grateful that these talented and dedicated individuals have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people.  I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.” President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: Beth F. Cobert, Nominee for Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget Beth F. Cobert is a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, where she has worked since 1984.  She is the firm’s Global Leader for Functional Capability Building, responsible for developing skills among over 9,000 consulting staff at the firm.  Ms. Cobert is also a Global Leader of McKinsey's Marketing and Sales practice, and chairs the firm’s pension fund.  She served as the head of McKinsey’s San Francisco office from 2005 to 2008.  Prior to working at McKinsey & Company, from 1980 to 1982, she worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.  Ms. Cobert received her B.A. from Princeton and her M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Sloan D. Gibson, Nominee for Deputy Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson is Chief Executive Officer and President of the United Service Organizations (USO).  Before joining USO in 2008, Mr. Gibson worked in banking for 20 years, including 11 years as an executive at AmSouth Bancorporation and 9 years as a Senior Vice President at Bank South.  In 2004, he retired as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of AmSouth Bancorporation, a position he held since 2000.  In 2002, Mr. Gibson chaired the United Way campaign in Central Alabama.  Mr. Gibson is a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He earned both Airborne and Ranger qualifications and served as infantry officer in the U.S. Army.  Mr. Gibson received a M.A. from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a M.P.A. from Harvard University. Heather AnneHigginbottom, Nominee for Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, Department of State  Heather Anne Higginbottom is Counselor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of State (DOS).  Prior to joining DOS, Ms. Higginbottom served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2011 to 2013.  From 2009 to 2011, Ms. Higginbottom served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.  From 2007 to 2008, she was Policy Director for Obama for America.  Ms. Higginbottom worked as Senator John Kerry’s Legislative Director from 1999 to 2007 and as Deputy Director for Policy on his Presidential campaign from 2003 to 2004.  In 2004, Ms. Higginbottom founded and served as Executive Director of the American Security Project, a national security think tank.  Ms. Higginbottom received a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a M.P.P. from George Washington University. Jim Shelton, Nominee for Deputy Secretary, Department of Education Jim Shelton is the Acting Deputy Secretary of Education, a position he has held since June 2013.  He is also the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education, where he has served since March 2009.  Mr. Shelton previously was the Deputy Director for the Education Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2003 to 2009.  He was a Partner for NewSchools Venture Fund from 2002 to 2003, President for the LearnNow Division of Edison Schools from 2001 to 2002, and the President and Co-Founder of LearnNow, Inc. from 1999 to 2001.  He was Vice President of Knowledge Universe from 1997 to 1999.  From 1993 to 1997, Mr. Shelton worked at McKinsey & Company as an Associate and then Senior Engagement Manager.  Mr. Shelton received a B.A. from Morehouse College, an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an M.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, Nominee for Under Secretary of the Navy, Department of Defense Dr. Jo Ann Rooney is a Managing Director at the Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, a position she has held since 2012.  Previously, Dr. Rooney was Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense from 2011 to 2012, and served as Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness from November 2011 to June 2012.  Prior to her appointment in 2011, Dr. Rooney was President of Mount Ida College in Massachusetts and also served as President of Spalding University in Kentucky from 2002 to 2010.  From 1996 to 2002, Dr. Rooney served as Corporate General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Partner at The Lyons Companies in Waltham, Massachusetts.  Prior to The Lyons Companies, she practiced tax law in the Boston area and was a founding partner of the consulting firm Stearns, Rooney & Associates in Hingham, Massachusetts.  Dr. Rooney received a B.S. from Boston University, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, a LL.M. from Boston University School of Law, and an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. CaptainPaul Nathan Jaenichen, Sr., USN (Ret), Nominee for Administrator of the Maritime Administration, Department of Transportation Captain Paul Nathan Jaenichen, Sr., USN (Ret), currently serves as the Acting Administrator and as the Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) at the Department of Transportation.  Captain Jaenichen was a career naval officer, retiring after serving 30 years as a nuclear trained Submarine Officer in the United States Navy.  His final assignment was Deputy Chief of Legislative Affairs for the Department of the Navy from 2010 to 2012.  At sea, Captain Jaenichen served as Commanding Officer of the USS Albany from 1999 to 2002 and Commander of Submarine Squadron ELEVEN in San Diego, California from 2007 to 2008.  Ashore, he served as Director of the Submarine/Nuclear Officer Distribution at Navy Personnel Command from 2008 to 2010; Chief of the Western/Eastern Europe and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Divisions on the Strategic Plans and Policy Joint Staff from 2005 to 2007; Executive Assistant to the Director of the Submarine Warfare Division from 2004 to 2005; and Senior Member of the Atlantic Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examination Board from 2002 to 2004.  He received a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy in Ocean Engineering and a M.S. from Old Dominion University in Engineering Management. Dr. David Weil, Nominee for Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor Dr. David Weil is Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law and the Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Boston University School of Management, where he has worked since 1992.  He is also Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Transparency Policy Project at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a position he has held since 2002.  He has been a lecturer and Research Fellow at the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program since 1987.  He is the recipient of the Broderick Prize in Research and the Broderick Prize for Teaching at Boston University, the Shingo Prize for Research on Manufacturing Innovations, and Boston University School of Management Best M.B.A. Instructor of the Year in 2011 and 2012.  Dr. Weil received a B.S. from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University. John P. Carlin, Nominee for Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Department of Justice John P. Carlin is the Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice (DOJ), a position he has held since March 2013.  In addition, he has been the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff for the National Security Division since 2011.  From 2007 to 2011, he served in leadership roles at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ultimately serving as Chief of Staff to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III.  A career federal prosecutor, he served in 2007 as National Coordinator of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property program within the DOJ Criminal Division.  From 2001 to 2006, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.  Mr. Carlin first joined DOJ through the Attorney General’s Honors Program in 1999.  He is a five-time recipient of the Department of Justice Award for Special Achievement.  He received a B.A. from Williams College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Bradley Crowell, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Department of Energy  Bradley Crowell is the Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Prior to this, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2010 to 2012.  Previously, he was a Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from 2007 to 2010.  Mr. Crowell was the Legislative Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council from 2004 to 2007 and a Policy Advisor to Congressman Chris Bell from 2002 to 2003.  He was a Public Policy Associate for Burness Communications from 2001 to 2002 and a Legislative Aide for Senator Richard Bryan from 1999 to 2001.  Mr. Crowell received a B.S. from Santa Clara University. Dr. Richard G. Frank, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Richard G. Frank is currently the Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, a position he has held since 1999.  From August 2009 to March 2011, while on leave from Harvard Medical School, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he directed the Office on Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy.  From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Frank was Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Policy at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Frank previously held faculty positions at the Department of Health Policy and Management in the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University from 1984 to 1994 and at the University of Pittsburgh from 1980 to 1984.  He was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Botswana from 1975 to 1976.  He is the 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Mental Health Association of Maryland.  He has been a member of the Institute of Medicine since 1997, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research since 1987, and is a co-editor of the Journal of Health Economics.  Dr. Frank received a B.A. in Economics from Bard College and a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University. Esther Kia’aina, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Department of the Interior Esther Kia’aina is the First Deputy Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the State of Hawaii, a position she has held since 2012.  Previously, she was Chief Advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs from 2009 to 2011 and from 2007 to 2009, she was a Land Asset Manager for the Kamehameha Schools’ Land Asset Division.  Ms. Kia’aina served as Chief of Staff for Congressman Ed Case from 2003 to 2007.  From 1999 to 2003, she was Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Congressman Robert Underwood.  Ms. Kia’aina served as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Daniel Akaka from 1990 to 1999.  Ms. Kia’aina received a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. Michael D. Lumpkin, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Department of Defense Michael D. Lumpkin is Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, a position he has held since 2013.  Mr. Lumpkin was the Chief Executive Officer of Industrial Security Alliance Partners from 2012 to 2013.  From 2011 to 2012, Mr. Lumpkin served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities) at the Department of Defense.  From 2010 to 2011, he served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary, and then Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Prior to joining the Administration, Mr. Lumpkin served as the Director of Business Development for Aardvark Tactical, Inc., a supplier of nonlethal tactical equipment, from 2008 to 2010.  Mr. Lumpkin served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years, including as a Navy SEAL.  He received a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and a M.A. from Naval Postgraduate School. Christopher Smith, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Department of Energy  Christopher Smith is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a position he has held since February 2013.  He also served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy from February 2013 to August 2013 and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas from 2009 to 2013.  From 2007 to 2009, he was as the Director of Liquid Natural Gas Trading Analytics for Chevron Global Gas.  From 2005 to 2007, he was an Advisor to the President and Chief of Staff for Chevron Global Supply & Trading.  Mr. Smith was a Developmental Manager and Regional Manager of the Latin America region for ChevronTexaco Global Gas from 2002 to 2005.  He held several roles with Texaco, including Business Development Manager from 1999 to 2002 and Executive Business Analyst from 1998 to 1999.  He was an Operations Officer and Task Force Engineer for the 25th Infantry Division of the United States Army from 1991 to 1993.  Mr. Smith received a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an M.B.A. from the University of Cambridge.  Puneet Talwar, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Department of State Puneet Talwar is a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States on the White House National Security Staff, a position he has held since 2009.  Prior to this, Mr. Talwar served as a Senior Professional Staff Member on the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate (SFRC) from 2001 to 2009 and from 1997 to 1999, and was the chief advisor on the Middle East to then Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., SFRC Chairman.  He served as a member of the Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff from 1999 to 2001.  From 1992 to 1995, he served as a foreign policy advisor to Representative Thomas C. Sawyer, and from 1990 to 1992 as an official with the United Nations.  He received a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Jay Williams, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Department of Commerce  Jay Williams is the Director of the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers at the Department of Labor, a position he has held since 2011.  Mr. Williams was the Mayor of Youngstown, Ohio from 2006 to 2011.  Prior to becoming Mayor, he was the Executive Director of the Community Development Agency for Youngstown from 2000 to 2005.  From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Williams was with First Place Bank in Warren, Ohio.  Previously, from 1995 to 1997, Mr. Williams was an Examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in Cleveland, Ohio.  Mr. Williams received a B.S.B.A. from Youngstown State University. Jamie Morin, Nominee for Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, Department of Defense  Jamie Morin is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management, a position he has held since 2009, and was Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force from 2012 to 2013.  From 2003 to 2009, he served as the Senior Defense Analyst at the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget.  From 2002 to 2003, Mr. Morin was a National Fellow at the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  In 2001, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, working primarily for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.  From 2000 to 2001, Mr. Morin was an economist and strategy specialist at J.E. Austin and Associates and was a research associate and assistant from 1995 to 1997 at the same firm.  Mr. Morin received a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Victoria Wassmer, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Protection Agency Victoria Wassmer is the Assistant Administrator for Finance and Management at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a position she has held since 2011.  Previously, she was the Vice President of Administration and Finance at the Millennium Challenge Corporation from 2010 to 2011.  From 2004 to 2010, Ms. Wassmer held several senior roles at the FAA, including Deputy Director of the Office of Budget and Management and Chief Financial Officer.  She was a Senior Associate with the Carmen Group from 2003 to 2004 and a staff member in the Office of Capital Programs and Oversight for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from 2002 to 2003.  From 1996 to 2002, Ms. Wassmer was a Policy Analyst with the Office of Management and Budget.  Ms. Wassmer received an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College and an M.P.P. from Harvard University. Larry Edward André, Jr., Nominee for Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Department of State  Larry Edward André, Jr., a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, most recently served as Acting Envoy and Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan at the Department of State.  Prior to this role, Mr. André served as Deputy Executive Director for the Department’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2010 to 2011 and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 2008 to 2010.  Other previous assignments have included Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (2006 to 2008); Deputy Director of the Office of West African Affairs (2004 to 2006) and Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone (2002 to 2004).  Mr. André received a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and a M.B.A from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, Nominee for Representative of the United States to the European Union, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State Anthony Luzzatto Gardner is the Managing Director of Structured Finance at Palamon Capital Partners in London, a position he has held since 2007.  In 2007, Mr. Gardner was Executive Director, European Leveraged Finance, at Bank of America in London.  From 2002 to 2007, Mr. Gardner served as Executive Director, European Leveraged Finance, in GE Commercial Finance and as Director, European Industrial Business Development, at GE International in London.  Mr. Gardner served as Director for European Affairs in the European Directorate at the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995.  He also worked in the Directorate-General for Competition Policy of the European Commission from 1990 to 1991.  He received a B.A. from Harvard University, a M.Phil. from Oxford University, a J.D. from Columbia University Law School, and a M.Sc. from London Business School. Ambassador Helen Meagher La Lime, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Angola, Department of State  Ambassador Helen Meagher La Lime, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is the Director of Outreach for the United States Africa Command, a position she has held since 2011.  From 2008 to 2011, she was Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the Republic of South Africa.  Ambassador La Lime served as the Consul General in Cape Town from 2006 to 2008.  From 2003 to 2006, Ambassador La Lime served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique.  She was Deputy Chief of Mission of U.S. Embassy Rabat from 2001 to 2003 and Director of the Office of Central African Affairs from 2000 to 2001.  Ambassador La Lime has held a number of other positions, including Deputy Director in the Office of Central African Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena, Chad, and International Economist at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the Department of State.  She received a B.S. from Georgetown University and a M.S. from the National Defense University. Michael Anderson Lawson, Nominee for rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Department of State Michael Anderson Lawson is the immediate past President of the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners.  He has been a member of the Board of Airport Commissioners since 2005 and held the position of President of the Commission since 2011.  From 1980 to 2011, he practiced law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP where he served as partner since 1995.  From 1978 to 1980, he was a staff attorney at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.  Mr. Lawson is a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College, Loyola Marymount University, The Advancement Project, the Music Center at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, the California State Teachers Retirement System Board, and the Community Redevelopment Agency Oversight Board for the City of Los Angeles.  Mr. Lawson received a B.A. from Loyola University in Los Angeles and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Luis G. Moreno, Nominee for Ambassador to Jamaica, Department of State  Luis G. Moreno, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain.  From 2010 to 2011, he served as Political-Military Affairs Minister Counselor, as well as Force Strategic Engagement Cell Director at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  From 2010 to 2007, Mr. Moreno served as Deputy Chief to Mission in Tel Aviv, Israel.  From 2004 to 2007, he served as Consul General and Principal Officer in Monterrey, Mexico.  Mr. Moreno also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti from 2001 to 2004 and as Narcotics Affairs Director at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia from 1997 to 2001.  Throughout his time with the Foreign Service, Mr. Moreno served as Refugee Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; International Relations Officer in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; and Deputy Director of Narcotics Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru.  He received a B.A. from Fordham University and a M.A. from Kean College. George J. Tsunis, Nominee for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway, Department of State  George J. Tsunis is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chartwell Hotels, LLC.  From 1999 to 2009, Mr. Tsunis was of counsel at Rivkin Radler, LLP and served as partner since 2005.  Mr. Tsunis was Special Counsel to the Town of Huntington Committee on Open Space Preservation as well as Counsel to the Dix Hills Water District from 2003 to 2009.  From 1998 to 1999, he practiced law at Goldberg & Cohen in Brooklyn, NY.  From 1996 to 1998, he was a Legislative Attorney at the New York City Council.  Mr. Tsunis received a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from St. John's University School of Law. Daniel W. Yohannes, Nominee for Representative of the United States to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador, Department of State  Daniel W. Yohannes is the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a position he has held since 2009.  From 2003 to 2009, he was President and CEO of M&R Investments.  From 1999 to 2003, he served as Vice Chairman of U.S. Bancorp, first as Head of Consumer Banking and then as Head of Integration, Community and Public Affairs.  From 1992 to 1999, Mr. Yohannes was President and CEO of U.S. Bank Colorado (formerly Colorado National Bank).  From 1977 to 1992, he worked at Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America), ultimately serving as Executive Vice President.  Mr. Yohannes has previously served on the boards of the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center, the Denver Art Museum, the University of Colorado Medical School and Project C.U.R.E.  Mr. Yohannes received a B.S. from Claremont McKenna College and a M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. Representative Barbara Lee, Nominee for Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (U.S. Representative from the State of California) Representative Barbara Lee represents the 13th District of California.  She was first elected in 1998.  Representative Lee is a member of the Committee on Appropriations, serving on both the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and on the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.  She is also a member of the Committee on the Budget and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.  From 2009 to 2010, she served as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  From 2002 to 2008, Representative Lee served as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  She received a B.A. from Mills College and an M.S.W. from the University of California, Berkeley. Representative Mark Meadows, Nominee for Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (U.S. Representative from the State of North Carolina) Representative Mark Meadows represents the 11th District of North Carolina.  He was first elected in 2012.  Representative Meadows is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  Prior to this, Representative Meadows was a real estate developer from 1992 to 2012, and owned his own restaurant from 1986 to 1990.  From 1983 to 1986, Representative Meadows was the Director of Customer Relations and Public Safety at Tampa Electric.  He received a B.A. from the University of South Florida. Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Nominee for Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley is a Special Adviser at the Department of State.  From 2010 to 2012, she served as Special Representative for Public-Private Partnerships in the Global Partnership Initiative at the Department of State.  From 2008 to 2011, Ambassador Bagley was a Member on the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.  From 2005 to 2007, she was a Counselor at Manatt, Phelps, Phillips law firm, and Manatt Jones Global Strategies in Washington, D.C.   Previously, Ambassador Bagley was Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State for Media Acquisition in the Balkans from 1997 to 2001, and served as U.S. Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic from 1994 to 1997.  Prior to this, Ambassador Bagley was a Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center from 1991 to 1993.  She was the Congressional Relations Director at the Center for National Policy from 1981 to 1987.  She received a B.A. from Regis College and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Governor Ted Strickland, Nominee for Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Governor Ted Strickland is co-founder and Chairman of Midwest Gateway Partners, a position he has held since 2011.  Previously, he served as the Governor of Ohio from 2007 to 2011.  He served as a U.S. Representative representing the 6th District of Ohio from 1993 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2007.  From 1983 to 2004, he practiced psychology in Ohio.  Governor Strickland served in a number of capacities at the Methodist Children’s Home of Kentucky, Shawnee State University, and the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.  He received a B.A. from Asbury College in Kentucky, a M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. Stephen N. Zack, Nominee for Alternate Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Stephen N. Zack is an attorney and administrative partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, a position he has held since 2002.  Previously, from 1998 to 2002, he was a managing partner at Zack Kosnitzky, P.A.  Mr. Zack was a partner at a number of law firms from 1991 to 1998, including Zack, Sparber, Kosnitzky, Spratt & Brooks.  From 2010 to 2012, he served as President of the American Bar Association, the first Hispanic American to hold the position.  Mr. Zack served as Chair of the Florida Ethics Commission from 1987 to 1994 and was appointed to re-write the Florida Constitution as a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 1997.  Mr. Zack received a B.A. from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Florida Law School.

09 сентября 2013, 20:35

Promoting Great Cooperation: The New Sub-Saharan Africa Public-Private Sector Dialogue

This weekend, in Swakopmund, Namibia, we kicked off the inaugural Sub-Saharan Africa Public-Private Sector Dialogue (the Dialogue), an initiative of the G-8.  We at Treasury have worked closely with our counterparts at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Government of Namibia, and the Eastern and Southern Africa AML Group (ESAAMLG) to develop this forum to bring together representatives of the public and private sectors from Africa and around the globe to discuss the challenges of implementing effective regimes for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in the rapidly developing economies of sub-Saharan Africa. Treasury has a longstanding history of promoting public-private sector dialogue aimed at deepening and enhancing international cooperation in the fight against all forms of illicit finance.  The U.S.-Latin America Private-Public Sector Dialogue, for example, will hold its 14th annual meeting next year.  These dialogues, like the one that took place in Namibia this weekend, have produced positive results as governments and the private sector have worked together to achieve their shared objectives.  Both the public sector and the private sector are united in a shared commitment to prevent money launderers from moving their ill-gotten gains; to ensure that corrupt politicians have nowhere to hide stolen public assets; and to deprive terrorists of the resources to further their violent objectives.  However, whereas governments and the private sector have the same basic goals, we have very different responsibilities, and this is where open communication becomes so important.  We don’t always see eye to eye on the best way to achieve our shared objectives, but a dialogue among all the relevant stakeholders helps us broaden our understanding of the challenges we face together and helps us to develop realistic and effective solutions. The need for open dialogue is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is host to seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies.  Such growth brings enormous opportunity to the region, at both the governmental level and in the private sector, but it also creates new challenges.  The types of financial services available in the region are rapidly diversifying, and new payment methods, such as mobile banking, hold the potential to bring millions of people into the regulated financial system.   While this trend is in line with the shared goals of governments and the private sector alike, it is somewhat uncharted territory when it comes to AML/CFT issues.  Adapting AML/CFT standards to new payment methods and determining how to allocate limited supervisory resources to oversee traditional and new types of financial service providers are key challenges for this emerging market.   As we work together to find effective solutions to these and other issues, our ultimate goal is to promote secure, safe, and transparent financial systems in sub-Saharan Africa.  This supports economic growth and investment in the region, but it is also critical in protecting the safety and security of the U.S. financial system, given the strong ties between the U.S. and African financial systems.   The Sub-Saharan Africa Dialogue included two days of technical discussions covering everything from financial inclusion to customer due diligence, and correspondent banking to banking high-risk customers.  Attendees included approximately 300 representatives from 22 countries, including 17 regional finance ministers, as well as other government officials and private sector executives.  We are looking forward to a future of open dialogue on these essential issues with this important region. And although this dialogue took place halfway around the world, we are certain that the benefits will also be felt back home in the United States. This weekend, in Swakopmund, Namibia, we kicked off the inaugural Sub-Saharan Africa Public-Private Sector Dialogue (the Dialogue), an initiative of the G-8.  We at Treasury have worked closely with our counterparts at Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Government of Namibia, and the Eastern and Southern Africa AML Group (ESAAMLG) to develop this forum to bring together representatives of the public and private sectors from Africa and around the globe to discuss the challenges of implementing effective regimes for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in the rapidly developing economies of sub-Saharan Africa.  Treasury has a longstanding history of promoting public-private sector dialogue aimed at deepening and enhancing international cooperation in the fight against all forms of illicit finance.  The U.S.-Latin America Private-Public Sector Dialogue, for example, will hold its 14th annual meeting next year.  These dialogues, like the one that took place in Namibia this weekend, have produced positive results as governments and the private sector have worked together to achieve their shared objectives.  Both the public sector and the private sector are united in a shared commitment to prevent money launderers from moving their ill-gotten gains; to ensure that corrupt politicians have nowhere to hide stolen public assets; and to deprive terrorists of the resources to further their violent objectives. However, whereas governments and the private sector have the same basic goals, we have very different responsibilities, and this is where open communication becomes so important.  We don’t always see eye to eye on the best way to achieve our shared objectives, but a dialogue among all the relevant stakeholders helps us broaden our understanding of the challenges we face together and helps us to develop realistic and effective solutions.  The need for open dialogue is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is host to seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies.  Such growth brings enormous opportunity to the region, at both the governmental level and in the private sector, but it also creates new challenges.  The types of financial services available in the region are rapidly diversifying, and new payment methods, such as mobile banking, hold the potential to bring millions of people into the regulated financial system.   While this trend is in line with the shared goals of governments and the private sector alike, it is somewhat uncharted territory when it comes to AML/CFT issues.  Adapting AML/CFT standards to new payment methods and determining how to allocate limited supervisory resources to oversee traditional and new types of financial service providers are key challenges for this emerging market.   As we work together to find effective solutions to these and other issues, our ultimate goal is to promote secure, safe, and transparent financial systems in sub-Saharan Africa.  This supports economic growth and investment in the region, but it is also critical in protecting the safety and security of the U.S. financial system, given the strong ties between the U.S. and African financial systems.  The Sub-Saharan Africa Dialogue included two days of technical discussions covering everything from financial inclusion to customer due diligence, and correspondent banking to banking high-risk customers.  Attendees included approximately 300 representatives from 22 countries, including 17 regional finance ministers, as well as other government officials and private sector executives.  We are looking forward to a future of open dialogue on these essential issues with this important region. And although this dialogue took place halfway around the world, we are certain that the benefits will also be felt back home in the United States. More information on the Dialogue can be found here.  Jennifer Fowler is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

09 сентября 2013, 03:01

Ed Miliband vows to get tough on zero-hours contracts

Labour's crackdown, marked in address to TUC, comes as UK languishes near bottom of G20 pay leagueEd Miliband will put forward plans on Tuesday to outlaw the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts, as new figures show Britain has suffered the second biggest fall in wages of any G20 country since the coalition took office.In an address to the TUC, Miliband will set out proposals to tackle the spread of zero-hours contracts, now believed to affect millions of workers and which have become the symbol of a post-recession economy built on job insecurity and exploitation.Miliband's commitment stops short of an outright ban on the contracts but will be welcomed by unions demanding he shifts focus from union-Labour reforms to proposals to help working people. Research published by the Unite union this weekend suggested as many as 5.5 million people could be on zero-hours deals offering little or no guarantee of work and pay.Labour officials said it was likely the proposals would include giving anyone working for a single employer for more than 12 weeks on a zero-hours contract the automatic right to a full-time contract based on the average time worked in the 12 weeks.The scale of the living standards crisis, in part created by demands for greater labour market flexibility, is underlined in the new figures from the Commons.A combination of high inflation and a clampdown on wages by UK employers has meant that workers in France, Germany and Canada have seen their pay packets relative to inflation recover since 2010 while the average British worker is £1,500 worse off. Only Italy has performed worse.The gap between inflation and wage rises mean average wages adjusted for inflation in the UK fell 2.6% from 2010 to the end of 2012 compared with a rise of 0.5% in France, 2.7% in Germany and 3.4% in Canada.Miliband, who is likely to face a difficult audience at the TUC conference in Bournemouth as relations are strained by the Labour leader's reform efforts, will say any economy that works for working people must have security as one of its foundation stones.He will pledge to "ban practices which lead to people being ground down", adding that "an unequal recovery won't be a stable recovery. It won't be built to last".In a competing speech on Monday, the chancellor, George Osborne, will claim the economy has turned the corner, suggesting the recovery under way is sustainable and proof that he was right to reject Labour calls to abandon spending cuts.A bullish Osborne will say the best way of safeguarding living standards is growth but also promise the proceeds will be shared fairly.Miliband will propose three specific measures to reduce the use of zero-hours contracts:• Banning employers from insisting zero-hours workers be available even when there is no guarantee of any work.• Ending zero-hours contracts that require workers to work exclusively for one business.• Ending the misuse of the contracts where employees are, in practice, working regular hours over a sustained period.Miliband has asked Norman Pickavance, former director of human resources at the supermarket chain Morrisons, to chair an independent consultation with business groups and others on how the measures might work.In particular, he will investigate options to ensure that workers who are actually working regular hours week in week out cannot simply be left on zero-hours contracts without their consent. They include the assumption that workers will move on to a regular contract after a specific period of regular employment.He will also be asked to work with business to investigate whether other measures should be considered and whether additional legislative steps should be taken.Miliband will tell the TUC: "We must stop flexibility being used as the excuse for exploitation."He will continue: "Of course, there are some kinds of these contracts which are useful. For doctors, or supply teachers at schools, or sometimes, young people working in bars. But you and I know that zero-hours contracts have been terribly misused. This kind of exploitation has to stop."The business department is conducting a review into the scale of the zero-hours contract economy, but Miliband's plans are the most specific proposals to reform so far.The figures on wages, which also showed that the G20 countries Mexico, Turkey, Russia and South Africa saw bigger rises in real wages, were produced by the OECD and analysed by House of Commons library staff for the Labour party.The figures highlight the problem faced by Osborne and the Bank of England as they try to sustain a recovery that has accelerated since January, but many economists fear could soon run out of steam.Critics of the government believe persistently high inflation will undermine the benefit of rising wages and force workers to continue digging into their savings or adding to their already large debts to maintain consumer spending. But Osborne will insist the recovery is sustainable because consumers are also unloading debt.Miliband will say: "Living standards have now fallen for longer than at any time since 1870. You know what that means. People not knowing how to make ends meet at the end of each month."After over three years of this government, with our economy still smaller than it was before the financial crisis, the rewards in our economy are going only to the few at the top. And that's not just unfair. It's bad for our country."The speech comes as a time when Unions are demanding concrete signs of Miliband's responsible capitalism agenda. But his aides argue it is not a sop to sceptical unions since insecurity at work affects most people. In addition, most people on zero-hours are not in unions.Ed MilibandZero-hours contractsLabourTrade unionsEconomic policyPatrick WintourPhillip Inman theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. 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05 сентября 2013, 00:01

Britain, France, Germany and Israel Lie for Obama

Stephen LendmanActivist Post Obama rages for more war. He intends more mass killing and destruction. Attacking Syria is virtually certain. It's just a matter of when. It's likely shortly after Congress reconvenes on September 9. So-called token strikes conceal planned shock and awe. Tomahawk cruise missiles usually carry 1,000 lb. warheads. Hundreds may be launched over several days. Doing so will cause extensive destruction. Perhaps thousands will die. Many more will be injured. If damage assessment is insufficient, more strikes will follow. Bombs away is longstanding US policy. America's a killing machine. It's history is bloodstained. More lawless aggression is imminent. It's based on lies.John Kerry replicated Colin Powell's moment three times. He lied repeatedly. So-called evidence he claimed about Assad using chemical weapons is fabricated. None exists. It's baseless. It's fake. It's manufactured out of whole cloth. No evidence links Syria to chemical weapons use. None!! Claiming otherwise reflects Obama's rage for war. Britain, France, Germany and Israel are imperial partners. Lies are contagious. They're spreading their own. On September 1, the Express UK headlined "Senior Syrian military chiefs tell captain: fire chemicals or be shot," saying: "British intelligence chiefs have intercepted radio messages in which senior Syrian military chiefs are heard ordering the use of chemical weapons." google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; "The dramatic revelation, disclosed by a high-placed RAF source, came as the defiant Syrian government declared it was 'fully ready' with 'its finger on the trigger' for an expected US attack." The unnamed RAF officer lied, saying: "The commander of the artillery battery told the regional commander that he would not comply and there was a heated exchange." "He was told in direct language that unless the order was carried out, he would be shot." "A total of 27 chemical artillery shells were then fired at the suburb in a 14-minute period." "The conversation was monitored and recorded by British officers based at the remote mountain-top RAF Troodos Signals Intelligence listening post in Cyprus and within minutes details of the conversation had been relayed to GCHQ, Whitehall and the Pentagon," said the Express. On September 2, AFP headlined "French intel says 'massive use' of chemical weapons by Syria regime," saying: "A French intelligence report released Monday said there was 'massive use of chemical agents' in an August 21 attack in Syria and that only the regime could have been responsible." AFP's report followed French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault saying: Syria "launched an attack on some suburbs of Damascus held by units of the opposition, combining conventional means with the massive use of chemical agents."John Kerry claimed 1,429 killed. "French intelligence had counted at least 281," said AFP. Actual numbers are unknown. They're likely many fewer than higher estimates. So is the cause of death. Natural News editor Mike Adams headlined "Bombshell: Syria's 'chemical weapons' turn out to be sodium fluoride used in the US water supply and sold at Wal-Mart." He called the chemical weapons narrative claimed by Kerry and others "an outlandish hoax." He cited the London Independent's report about Britain providing Syria with two chemicals able to produce nerve gas. What are they, asked Adams? "You won't believe me when I tell you. They are: sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride." The Independent's "headline describes 'nerve gas chemicals' and the subhead (calls them) 'sodium fluoride' and 'potassium fluoride.' " According to Adams, so-called toxic chemicals evidence is "nothing more than hair samples of people who drank sodium fluoride." "Tests done on Syrian citizens using ICP-MS (instrumentation) would not be able to distinguish between sodium fluoride and sarin exposure in terms of the detection of elemental fluorine." Sarin's chemical formulation includes fluorine, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorous. Four elements occur naturally. Fluorine doesn't. It's used in sodium fluoride. ICP-MS testing can intentionally "blur" evidence, said Adams. Doing so can make sodium fluoride appear like sarin "signatures." That's "precisely" what Kerry claimed. He faked so-called evidence to fit policy. So did US allies their way. On September 3, Russia Today headlined "German intelligence concludes sarin gas used on Assad's orders - reports," saying: Germany's BND claims "enough evidence to conclude (Assad) ordered suspected chemical attack in Syria, Germany’s Der Spiegel reports, quoting the results of a secret security briefing."Der Spiegel headlined "Syria crisis: BND captures evidence of use of poison gas by Assad regime." "The German intelligence is certain that (Assad's) responsible for the poison gas attack in Syria." "Even though there is no definitive proof, (there are) many clues. A wiretapped telephone call from the BND could be decisive." BND president Gerhard Schindler cited "a lack of clear evidence." He lied claiming only Syria's government has the ability to produce sarin and launch it using rockets. BND's analysis "is consistent with the findings presented by the United States," said Der Spiegel. Schindler lied saying insurgents "were not in a position to carry out such a concerted attack." US officials "reported only in abstract," he said. He admitted Germany has no definitive proof. It won't participate in America's attack. It's targeting Assad its own way. It claims its own fake evidence. So-called intercepted communications don't exist. Claiming otherwise is a convenient canard. Germany can claim whatever it wishes. So can Washington, Britain, France and Israel. On September 1, Haaretz headlined "Report: Syrians used chemical weapons repeatedly against rebels," saying: An unnamed "senior Israeli official said that, so far, small quantities of chemical weapons have been used in all cases, and in low dosages." At the same time, he said: "Neither Israel nor the United States has intelligence information directly connecting Assad or his close associates to the attack on August 21." "However, there is no doubt that there has been use of chemical weapons by elements in the Syrian army." Evidence consists largely of so-called intercepted communications. They don't exist. They're fake. No verifiable evidence corroborates them. Assad strongly denies using chemical weapons any time throughout months of conflict. He's done it publicly. France's Le Figaro interviewed him. It headlined "Assad's warning to France." Le Figaro's George Malbrunot asked him to prove a negative. "Can you prove to us that your army did not use chemical weapons on 21 August in the Damascus suburb, during attacks that killed more than a thousand people, as you are accused of by Barack Obama and Francois Hollande," he asked? Assad: "It is for those who are making the accusations to provide the proof." "We have challenged the United States and France to put forward a single proof." "Obama and Hollande have been unable to do so, even to their own people." "Supposing our army wishes to use weapons of mass destruction." "Is it possible that it would do so in a zone where it is located and where (our) soldiers were wounded by these arms, as United Nations inspectors have noted during visits to hospitals where they were treated? Where is the logic," he asked? Assad called the region "a powder key, and today the flame is coming very near." The "fuse is getting shorter." "Everyone will lose when the powder keg explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread. There is a risk of regional war." "Whoever contributes to the terrorists' financial or military strengthening is the enemy of the Syrian people. Whoever works against the interests of Syria and its citizens is an enemy." Assad called Obama weak, saying: "If (he) was strong, he would have said publicly: 'We have no evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian State.' " "He would have said publicly: 'The only way to proceed is through UN investigations." " 'We therefore refer everything to the Security Council.' " "But Obama is weak because he is facing pressure from within the United States." It's too late for dialoguing with insurgents, he said. "We are fighting terrorists. Eighty to 90 per cent of those we are fighting belong to Al Qaeda." "They are not interested in reform or in politics. The only way to deal with them is to annihilate them. Only then will we be able to talk about political measures." On September 3, Itar Tass headlined "Russian attack warning system fixes launch of two ballistic missiles in Mediterranean Sea targeting coastline," saying: According to Moscow's Defense Ministry: "The launch of two ballistic missiles was fixed at 10:16am Moscow time on Tuesday by a combat unit of the missile attack warning system in Armavir." "The flight trajectory of these bodies went through the central part of the Mediterranean towards Eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline." Syria's Moscow embassy reported no air alerts or explosions in Damascus. Britain's Defense Ministry said it's "aware of the fact that ballistic missiles were launched, but (it had) nothing to do with it." Israel said it launched two rockets as test targets for it's missile defense systems. Washington participated in the joint exercise. Both countries initially denied involvement. The timing of whatever happened is suspect. It raises disturbing red flags. Potentially it ups the stakes. Will Israel partner with Obama's war? It's already very much involved. It remains to be seen how much more. Sergey Vershinin heads Russia's MFA Department for Middle East and North Africa affairs. He's Moscow's Middle East Peace Process special envoy. "The (Syrian) situation is hard and emergency," he said. "A real threat of the use of force exists. Our position is decisive (and) unacceptable of this method." "The use of force will yield only a reverse effect." It coming. It's virtually certain. Obama demands it. So do most Democrats. Hardline Republican hawks want much more than what Obama suggests is coming. Media scoundrels support war. On September 2, The New York Times headlined "Debating the Case for Force," saying: "President Obama made the right decision to seek Congressional authorization for his announced plan to order unilateral military strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons." According to Times editors, Assad has to be deterred "from gassing his people again." The Security Council "failed to act. It is appalling that Russia and China have not been the focus of international outrage and pressure." The Arab League "toughened" its position. It remains as "feckless as ever." Its secretary general said "there should be no military action without a green light from the United Nations." On September 1, Wall Street Journal editors headlined "Leading from Behind Congress," saying:Seeking congressional authorization "will go down as one of the stranger gambles, if not abdications, in Commander in Chief history." "For days his aides had been saying the President has the Constitutional power to act alone in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, and that he planned to do so." "By comparison, George W. Bush on Iraq looks like Metternich." Obama's announced intervention won't end war "or depose Assad." He "put America's role as a global power on the line." "The world's rogues would be further emboldened and look for more weaknesses to exploit. Iran would conclude it can march to a nuclear weapon with impunity." "Israel, Japan, the Gulf states and other American friends would have to recalculate their reliance on US power and will." "These are the stakes that Mr. Obama has so recklessly put before Congress." Journal editors want all-out war on Syria. They urge congressional authorization. It's "not to save (Obama) from embarrassment." It's "to rescue American credibility and strategic interests from this most feckless of Presidents." Times and Journal editors aren't alone. America's media largely support war. They're in lockstep with lawlessness. They're mindless of the potential consequences. World peace hangs by a thread. Attacking Syria means regional conflict. It bears repeating. It risks WW III.Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. 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05 сентября 2013, 00:00

Joint Statement by Kingdom of Denmark, Republic of Finland, Republic of Iceland, Kingdom of Norway, Kingdom of Sweden, and the United States of America

The Kingdom of Denmark, Republic of Finland, Republic of Iceland, Kingdom of Norway, Kingdom of Sweden, and the United States of America reaffirm our deep partnership based on shared fundamental values including our commitment to democracy, human rights, respect for the rule of law, and economic freedom.  We continue to deepen our collaboration on important shared global priorities, including climate change and clean energy, the Arctic, a strong, open multilateral trading system, emerging security challenges, global development and humanitarian assistance, and Europe’s regional economic and security environment.  This evening, we have come together at a defining moment in the transatlantic relationship to discuss our long-term goals in each of these areas and agree to take concrete steps to achieve those goals.  United on Global Issues The United States and the Nordic countries share the goal of a stable and peaceful Middle East.  We agree that all relevant parties must work urgently for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  We are determined to work together to promote respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Egypt.  With regard to the situation in Syria, we strongly condemn any and all use of chemical weapons, and we are convinced a strong international reaction is required.  Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable. We recognize the importance of cooperation between our countries in building comprehensive security and addressing security issues in the 21st century, including terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illicit international arms trade, and threats to cyber security.  We also recognize that we must address these challenges in a manner that respects our most cherished values and protects universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are at the foundation of all flourishing democracies.  We note the need to continue to strengthen our countries’ important contributions to regional, transatlantic, and international forums, including in the EU, NATO, and NATO Partnership context.  We recommit to continuing and expanding our security, recognizing that this cooperation – with and among the Nordic countries, with other regional partners, including especially the Baltic states, and in transatlantic and international fora – will be crucial to our success.  To complement our already robust bilateral and regional security cooperation, we agree to launch a U.S.-Nordic Security Dialogue, which will meet annually to discuss opportunities for collaboration on global and regional security issues, focusing primarily on issues arising in the United Nations, including an integrated approach to preventive diplomacy, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and atrocity prevention.  Another stream of work will include joint capacity building efforts to promote stabilization in fragile and conflict affected states – linking up security and development efforts, and civilian and military partners. Recognizing that we still have work to do closer to home, we agree on our mutual commitment to deepening regional cooperation and continuing to pursue our common vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.  We underscore the importance of actions that can support a global economic recovery, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) currently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.   T-TIP aims to boost economic growth in the United States and the EU and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment.  We also look forward to exploring ways we can bolster trade and investment between the United States and Norway and Iceland.  We also emphasize our commitment to achieving significant and substantive outcomes at the 9th World Trade Organization Ministerial. We agree that the fight against tax avoidance and evasion should be a top priority in all relevant international fora.  We support the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and automatic exchange of information as the new global standard.  The engagement of the G-20 in these issues is important.  The misuse of shell companies can be a severe impediment to sustainable economic growth and sound governance.  We will make a concerted and collective effort to tackle this issue and improve the transparency of companies and legal arrangements.   Partnering on Climate Change and the Arctic Climate change is one of the foremost challenges for our future economic growth and well-being.  We underscore the importance of continuing to encourage innovative approaches to promoting energy efficiency and clean energy, including renewables, and of taking action on climate change, domestically and internationally.  This requires mobilizing scaled up climate finance.  We agreed on the importance of reaching an ambitious, comprehensive, fair, and inclusive climate agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 that is consistent with science, mindful of the two degree target, and applicable to all. As part of our commitment to accelerating the transition to low-carbon energy systems worldwide, the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden will join the United States in ending public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances.  We will work together to secure the support of other countries and multilateral development banks to adopt similar policies.  The Nordic countries and the United States agreed to continue their work, in all appropriate channels, to reduce the use of domestic fossil fuel subsidies globally.  The United States also agrees to join with the Nordic members of the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform to undertake peer reviews of domestic fossil fuel subsidies. Recognizing the rapid growth of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition over its first 18 months, we note the potential of the Coalition to catalyze significant global reductions of short-lived climate pollutants, which have major impacts on climate change and public health.  The U.S. and Nordic members of the Coalition agree to intensify our efforts and invite others to join to take full advantage of the Coalition’s potential. The United States and Nordic members of the Clean Energy Ministerial continue to support various ministerial initiatives, including the 21st Century Power Partnership, which brings together government and private sector actors to help identify and promote successful technical, policy, and financial pathways to cleaner and more efficient power systems in both developed and developing countries.  Additionally, the United States and Nordic countries expressed our support for the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative of the UN Secretary-General. We recommit to protecting the Arctic environment, working to improve living conditions and encouraging sustainable development in the Arctic region, particularly with respect to indigenous peoples, and ensuring that the Arctic remains a peaceful region of cooperation.  We will pursue opportunities in future Arctic Council meetings and other international fora to promote prosperity, foster scientific cooperation, and reduce emissions of black carbon in the Arctic region, as agreed upon in the Kiruna Declaration. Advancing Global Development As leaders in providing development assistance, we agree on the strategic, economic, and moral imperative of global development and humanitarian aid.  We are committed to aggressive efforts to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The MDGs continue to be a symbol of our common humanity and a statement of the world’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, combating disease, achieving gender equality, free quality education for all,  and environmental sustainability, thus extending hope and opportunity to billions across the world.  We note the opportunities for using trade to boost economic growth and reduce poverty in developing countries, as well as the importance of promoting human rights and gender equality.  In addition, we agree that vaccination through GAVI represents one of the most cost-effective approaches to save children’s lives and that with enhanced efforts, polio can be eradicated within this decade.  Together, we envision a unified post-2015 agenda that addresses poverty, inclusive growth, and sustainability in clear, ambitious, and measurable goals.  The United States and Nordic countries are critical donors in fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria worldwide.  We commend the reforms and results achieved by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and will work together to ensure a successful replenishment.  In a demonstration of strong leadership, a number of Nordic countries are together pledging $750 million, with over $150 million in increased funds, for the Global Fund replenishment, subject to parliamentary approval.  This funding will leverage $375 million from the U.S. challenge pledge of $1 for every $2 donated.  These historic multilateral investments will work to turn the tide against these three devastating diseases.  Access to electricity continues to be one of the most significant hurdles to economic growth and development.  In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than two-thirds of the population is without access to power.  To support a doubling of electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa the United States and Nordic countries have expressed our support for the Power Africa initiative and agree to work together to provide technical assistance, financing, and other support to enable additional investment in energy projects throughout the region.   In support of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), we agree to promote transparency and accountability of expenditures and revenues related to the extraction of natural resources, including through support to the multi-donor trust fund for EITI or the EITI Secretariat.  EU member states Denmark, Finland, and Sweden intend to quickly transpose the EU Accounting and Transparency Directive, which requires mandatory disclosures of payments made to governments for extractive and logging projects. Protecting Human Rights and Strengthening Governance We will work together to eradicate poverty, promote good governance and human rights, combat all forms of trafficking in persons, and strengthen gender equality and the rights of women and girls, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.  We agree to make real our respective obligations and commitments to promote and protect women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms as outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, the United Nations resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, and other international instruments and agreements on women’s rights.  We note in particular the importance of empowering women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace and ensuring their protection from violence, and of our continued bilateral and multilateral engagement to this end in such countries as Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the Middle East.  In Afghanistan, for example, we endorse such flagship initiatives as PROMOTE, UNWomen’s Elimination of Violence against Women Special Fund, the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund’s EQUIP, and the National Solidarity Program's Community Development Councils, which together empower a critical mass of Afghan women to fully participate in Afghan society. We strengthen our commitments to advance equality and dignity for LGBT persons through the Global Equality Fund.  This commitment reflects an increasingly growing global sentiment that all persons should be treated equally and with dignity regardless of who they are or who they love. The United States and Nordic members of the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative that asks governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen governance, agree to redouble our efforts to develop ambitious “Race to the Top” commitments for the October 31 Open Government Partnership Ministerial. Working together, we have a historic opportunity to make progress on issues of global significance, and we remain steadfast in our dedication to the pursuit of these goals. 

27 марта 2013, 06:14

Guest Post: Whom To Believe On Gold: Central Banks Or Bloomberg?

Submitted by Jeff Clark of Casey Research, Bloomberg reported recently that Russia is now the world's biggest gold buyer, its central bank having added 570 tonnes (18.3 million troy ounces) over the past decade. At $1,650/ounce, that's $30.1 billion worth of gold. Russia isn't alone, of course. Central banks as a group have been net buyers for at least two years now. But the 2012 data trickling out shows that the amount of tonnage being added is breaking records. The following table lists the countries that have added to their gold reserves this year, while the second one tallies those that have been selling. You'll see how recently each country has reported, along with its percentage increase. Changes in Central Bank Gold Reserves in 2012 (Million Troy Ounces)   Year-End 2011 YTD 2012 Last Reported Net Change Percent Change Countries Increasing Reserves         Turkey 6.28 11.56 Dec 5.283 84.1% Russia 28.39 30.79 Dec 2.405 8.5% Bank for International Settlements 15.6 16.71 Dec 1.114 7.1% Brazil 1.08 2.16 Dec 1.08 100.0% Philippines 5.12 6.2 Nov 1.079 21.1% Kazakhstan 2.64 3.71 Dec 1.07 40.5% South Korea 1.75 2.71 Nov 0.965 54.9% Iraq 0.19 0.96 Nov 0.773 405.3% México 3.41 4 Dec 0.596 17.3% Paraguay 0.021 0.263 Sept 0.242 1152.4% Ukraine 0.9 1.14 Dec 0.239 26.7% Belarus 1.21 1.37 Dec 0.164 13.2% Tajikistan 0.15 0.2 Dec 0.05 33.3% Brunei 0.06 0.09 Oct 0.031 50.0% Mozambique 0.08 0.11 Oct 0.025 37.5% Serbia 0.46 0.48 Nov 0.022 4.3% Jordan 0.41 0.43 May 0.02 4.9% Kyrgyz Republic 0.08 0.1 Dec 0.014 25.0% Greece 3.59 3.6 Dec 0.008 0.3% Mongolia 0.11 0.12 Nov 0.004 9.1% Suriname 0.071 0.074 Dec 0.003 4.2% South Africa 4.02 4.02 Nov 0.003 0.0% Moldova 0 0.002 Dec 0.002   Bulgaria 1.28 1.28 Dec 0.001 0.0% Pakistan 2.071 2.072 Dec 0.001 0.0%             Subtotal Gross Increases   15.2   Changes in Central Bank Gold Reserves in 2012 (Million Troy Ounces)   Year-End 2011 YTD 2012 Last Reported Net Change Percent Change Countries Decreasing Reserves         Sri Lanka 0.32 0.12 Sept -0.204 -62.5% Germany 109.19 109.04 Dec -0.159 -0.1% Czech Republic 0.4 0.37 Dec -0.028 -7.5% Macedonia 0.22 0.22 Dec -0.001 0.0% France 78.3 78.3 Dec -0.001 0.0% Malta 0.01 0.01 Dec -0.001 0.0%             Subtotal Gross Decreases   -0.39               Total Net Change       14.8   Sources: IMF, CPM Group. Data as of 1-31-13. Based on current data, the net increase in central bank gold buying for 2012 was 14.8 million troy ounces – and that's before the final 2012 figures are in for all countries. This is a dramatic increase, one bigger than most investors probably realize. To put it in perspective, on a net basis, central banks added more to their reserves last year than since 1964. The net increase – so far – is 17% greater than what was added in 2011, which was itself a year of record buying. Here's a picture of total central bank reserves since the financial crisis hit. Whatever gold's price movements, positive or negative, central bank officials have continued adding a lot of ounces to their reserves. But this understates the case, because most of the data exclude China, as well as a few other small countries. China last officially reported gold reserves in 2009, so the totals in the chart since then exclude whatever its purchases might have been. Here's where it gets interesting: Bloomberg claimed that Russia has been a bigger buyer of gold over the past decade than China – by a full 25%. Based on data about gold imports through Hong Kong and the fact that, for the most part, Chinese production doesn't leave the country, it seemed to me that this could not be right. The Chinese central bank holds an official 1,054 tonnes of gold in its reserves. Bloomberg states, based on IMF data, that China has added somewhere around 425 tonnes over the past decade. I can't say exactly what the correct number is, but the Bloomberg number almost has to be wrong. Here's why: Gold imports through Hong Kong in December alone hit a record high of 109.8 tonnes. Imports for 2012 also hit a record high of 572.5 tonnes. If you add 2012 mine production – remember that China is now the world's largest gold producer – roughly 970 tonnes of gold was delivered to various entities within the country last year. Cumulative imports since 2001 have reached 1,352 tonnes. Since 2001, imports plus production total a whopping 4,793 tonnes. So Bloomberg is essentially saying that roughly 10% of the total gold available inside the country during that period was added to China's reserves. While it's true that Chinese citizens are buying a lot of gold (though perhaps more silver), it's highly doubtful that private parties bought 90% of all the gold brought to the Chinese market during this period. I think – but can't prove – that China's central bank is buying more gold and at a faster pace than its Russian counterpart. Jim Rickards, a highly respected author and hedge fund manager, said last month that China has probably already accumulated between 2,000 and 3,000 tonnes of additional gold reserves. If he's right, that would be roughly double or triple the 1,054 tonnes it reported in 2009 – not the 40% increase Bloomberg's numbers suggest. At the very least, we can say that the Bloomberg report left consideration of China's imports and production out of its report naming Russia the top gold buyer of 2012. Okay…but so what? Well, Jim thinks the next big catalyst for gold will be an announcement from China about its reserve position. Here's what he told me in late December: "The catalyst for a spike into the $2,500 to $3,000 price range for gold will be an announcement by China, probably in late 2013 or 2014, that they have acquired 4,000 tonnes or more in their official reserve position. This will put China on an equal footing with the US in terms of a gold-to-GDP ratio, and validate gold as the real foundation of the international monetary system. Once that position is validated, gold will move to the $7,000 range in 2015 and beyond." Even if Jim's estimate is high or China doesn't make an announcement until later, it's clear that central banks around the world are buying gold in record quantities. It almost makes you wonder… do they know something we don't? The Russians gave us some hints. Evgeny Fedorov, a lawmaker for Putin's United Russia Party, said last week, "The more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there's a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound, or any other reserve currency." President Vladimir Putin told his central bank not to "shy away" from the metal, adding "After all, they're called gold and currency reserves for a reason." The Chinese have been quiet on this topic recently, after being very vocal a few years ago. Here's a recent quote. "The current international currency system is the product of the past," said Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Others have provided clues as well. "We're in the midst of an international currency war," said Guido Mantega, finance minister of Brazil. "Quantitative easing also works through exchange rates… The Fed could engage in much more aggressive quantitative easing, to further lower the dollar," said Christina Romer, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. Economist Kyle Bass recently spoke to a senior member of the Obama administration about its planned solutions for fixing the US economy and trade deficit. When he asked, "How are we going to grow exports if we won't allow nominal wage deflation?", the answer he got was, "We're just going to kill the dollar." Yes, we're talking about the US dollar. Perhaps some investors have gotten complacent about the risks to the world's reserve currency – but not central bankers. It's not hard to see why: whether they admit it or not, central bankers must know what it means to run the printing presses the way the US has since 2008, even if price inflation is not immediately obvious. It's no surprise they want to hedge their bets, moving more reserves into something with actual value... something that can't be debased by a few computer keystrokes by an increasingly unfriendly government. The US dollar has been the world's reserve currency since WWII. That's beginning to change, and the movement into gold is just one facet of that change. The buying by central banks is exactly what one would expect to see as we approach the end of the dollar hegemony. The message from central banks is clear: they expect the dollar to move inexorably lower. It doesn't matter that it's been holding up against other currencies or that the economy might be getting better. They're buying gold in record amounts because they see a significant shift coming with the status of the dollar, and they need to protect themselves against that risk. This leads to a second message: gold is not overpriced, in spite of the 500%+ increase since 2001. Indeed, with the recent correction, central banks are likely buying more, even as you read this. Central bank gold buying will continue, of that we're certain. Even after Putin's binge, gold accounts for only 9.5% of Russia's total reserves. China's 1,054 tonnes is roughly 2% of its reserves. It's clear that both countries, along with others, have decided to accumulate as much gold as they can, as quickly as they can, before the dollar's decline becomes more pronounced... and permanent. This could explain why some central banks don't publicize their purchases. It also means that Bloomberg and other mainstream media outlets could be caught off guard when China announces higher gold reserves than expected – perhaps much higher. Clearly we should take notice. If central banks are preparing for a major change in the value of the dollar, shouldn't we? The fact remains that the US dollar cannot and will not survive the ongoing abuse heaped upon it by government planners and federal officials. That not only means the gold price will rise, but that many, if not most currencies, will lose a significant amount of purchasing power. This has direct implications for all of us. Embrace the messages central bankers are telling us – the ones they tell with their actions, not their words. Buy gold. Your financial future may very well depend upon it. While buying gold will protect your purchasing power, your best bet at growing it substantially is to stake claims in little-known companies that mine precious metals. That's how Doug Casey, Rick Rule, and other well-known contrarian speculators made their millions. To learn exactly how they did it – and how you can too – sign up for Downturn Millionaires, a free video presentation from Casey Research.

22 марта 2013, 21:25

The week in charts

Graphics from the print edition of March 23rd 2013Navigate this week's issue of The Economist via the graphics that accompany some articles. A contact sheet of all this week's charts is also available to download. From this week's issue Briefing Alibaba: A trailblazing Chinese internet giant will soon go public Related: The world’s greatest bazaar United States America’s combat veterans: The government is failing to keep faith with ex-soldiers Related: The waiting wounded United States Nursery education: Americans argue about the need for early schooling Related: Winning grades Britain Press regulation: A cross-party deal is quickly dissolving Related: Over the Rubicon Middle East and Africa China and Africa: Trade keeps growing; fears of neocolonialism are overdone Related: More than minerals Finance and economics The Cyprus bail-in: European leaders tear up the rules, with unpredictable consequences Related: A bungled bank raid Finance and economics Free exchange: Demography may explain the weakness of America’s recovery Related: Where did everyone go? Gallery, Charts and Calendars:  20130323_wic

21 марта 2013, 19:30

Remarks of President Barack Obama To the People of Israel

Jerusalem International Convention Center Jerusalem 4:37 P.M. IST THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much. Well, it is a great honor to be with you here in Jerusalem, and I’m so grateful for the welcome that I’ve received from the people of Israel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  I bring with me the support of the American people -- (applause) -- and the friendship that binds us together.  (Applause.)   Over the last two days, I’ve reaffirmed the bonds between our countries with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I’ve borne witness to the ancient history of the Jewish people at the Shrine of the Book, and I’ve seen Israel’s shining future in your scientists and your entrepreneurs.  This is a nation of museums and patents, timeless holy sites and ground-breaking innovation.  Only in Israel could you see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the place where the technology on board the Mars Rover originated at the same time.  (Applause.) But what I’ve most looked forward to is the ability to speak directly to you, the Israeli people -- especially so many young people who are here today -- (applause) -- to talk about the history that brought us here today, and the future that you will make in the years to come.   Now, I know that in Israel’s vibrant democracy, every word, every gesture is carefully scrutinized.  (Laughter.)  But I want to clear something up just so you know -- any drama between me and my friend, Bibi, over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet.  (Applause.)  That’s the only thing that was going on.  We just wanted to make sure the writers had good material.  (Laughter.)  I also know that I come to Israel on the eve of a sacred holiday -- the celebration of Passover.  And that is where I would like to begin today.  Just a few days from now, Jews here in Israel and around the world will sit with family and friends at the Seder table, and celebrate with songs, wine and symbolic foods.  After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud that I've now brought this tradition into the White House.  (Applause.)  I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah, and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.   It’s a story of centuries of slavery, and years of wandering in the desert; a story of perseverance amidst persecution, and faith in God and the Torah.  It’s a story about finding freedom in your own land.  And for the Jewish people, this story is central to who you’ve become.  But it’s also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering, but also all of its salvation. It’s a part of the three great religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred.  And it’s a story that’s inspired communities across the globe, including me and my fellow Americans.   In the United States -- a nation made up of people who crossed oceans to start anew -- we’re naturally drawn to the idea of finding freedom in our land.  To African Americans, the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity -- a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement into today.  For generations, this promise helped people weather poverty and persecution, while holding on to the hope that a better day was on the horizon.  For me, personally, growing up in far-flung parts of the world and without firm roots, the story spoke to a yearning within every human being for a home.  (Applause.) Of course, even as we draw strength from the story of God’s will and His gift of freedom expressed on Passover, we also know that here on Earth we must bear our responsibilities in an imperfect world.  That means accepting our measure of sacrifice and struggle, just like previous generations.  It means us working through generation after generation on behalf of that ideal of freedom.  As Dr. Martin Luther King said on the day before he was killed, “I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”  (Applause.)  So just as Joshua carried on after Moses, the work goes on for all of you, the Joshua Generation, for justice and dignity; for opportunity and freedom.   For the Jewish people, the journey to the promise of the State of Israel wound through countless generations.  It involved centuries of suffering and exile, prejudice and pogroms and even genocide.  Through it all, the Jewish people sustained their unique identity and traditions, as well as a longing to return home.  And while Jews achieved extraordinary success in many parts of the world, the dream of true freedom finally found its full expression in the Zionist idea -- to be a free people in your homeland.  That’s why I believe that Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea -- the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.  (Applause.)  Over the last 65 years, when Israel has been at its best, Israelis have demonstrated that responsibility does not end when you reach the promised land, it only begins.  And so Israel has been a refuge for the diaspora -- welcoming Jews from Europe, from the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia, from North Africa.  (Applause.)   Israel has built a prosperous nation -- through kibbutzeem that made the desert bloom, business that broadened the middle class, innovators who reached new frontiers, from the smallest microchip to the orbits of space.  Israel has established a thriving democracy, with a spirited civil society and proud political parties, and a tireless free press, and a lively public debate -– “lively” may even be an understatement.  (Applause.)   And Israel has achieved all this even as it’s overcome relentless threats to its security -- through the courage of the Israel Defense Forces, and the citizenry that is so resilient in the face of terror.   This is the story of Israel.  This is the work that has brought the dreams of so many generations to life.  And every step of the way, Israel has built unbreakable bonds of friendship with my country, the United States of America.  (Applause.)   Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel.  (Applause.)  As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, he said, “I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”  And since then, we’ve built a friendship that advances our shared interests.  Together, we share a commitment to security for our citizens and the stability of the Middle East and North Africa.  Together, we share a focus on advancing economic growth around the globe, and strengthening the middle class within our own countries.  Together, we share a stake in the success of democracy.   But the source of our friendship extends beyond mere interests, just as it has transcended political parties and individual leaders.  America is a nation of immigrants.  America is strengthened by diversity.  America is enriched by faith.  We are governed not simply by men and women, but by laws.  We're fueled by entrepreneurship and innovation, and we are defined by a democratic discourse that allows each generation to reimagine and renew our union once more.  So in Israel, we see values that we share, even as we recognize what makes us different.  That is an essential part of our bond.    Now, I stand here today mindful that for both our nations, these are some complicated times.  We have difficult issues to work through within our own countries, and we face dangers and upheaval around the world.  And when I look at young people within the United States, I think about the choices that they must make in their lives to define who we'll be as a nation in this 21st century, particularly as we emerge from two wars and the worst recession since the Great Depression.  But part of the reason I like talking to young people is because no matter how great the challenges are, their idealism, their energy, their ambition always gives me hope.  (Applause.)    And I see the same spirit in the young people here today.  (Applause.)  I believe that you will shape our future.  And given the ties between our countries, I believe your future is bound to ours.  (Audience interruption.)   No, no -- this is part of the lively debate that we talked about.  (Applause.)  This is good.  You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home.  (Laughter.)  I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn't have at least one heckler.  (Laughter.)  I’d like to focus on how we -- and when I say "we," in particular young people -- can work together to make progress in three areas that will define our times -- security, peace and prosperity.  (Applause.)    Let me begin with security.  I'm proud that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger.  Never.  (Applause.)  More exercises between our militaries; more exchanges among our political and military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge.  These are the facts.  These aren't my opinions, these are facts.  But, to me, this is not simply measured on a balance sheet.  I know that here, in Israel, security is something personal. Here's what I think about when I consider these issues.  When I consider Israel’s security, I think about children like Osher Twito, who I met in Sderot -- (applause) -- children the same age as my own daughters who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.  (Applause.)   That reality is why we’ve invested in the Iron Dome system to save countless lives -- because those children deserve to sleep better at night.  (Applause.)  That’s why we’ve made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza, and we have stood up for Israel’s right to defend itself.  (Applause.)  And that’s why Israel has a right to expect Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist. (Applause.)   When I think about Israel’s security, I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families.  That’s why every country that values justice should call Hizbollah what it truly is -- a terrorist organization.  (Applause.)  Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities, and supports the massacre of men and women and children in Syria right now.  (Applause.) The fact that Hizbollah’s ally -- the Assad regime -- has stockpiles of chemical weapons only heightens the urgency.  We will continue to cooperate closely to guard against that danger. I’ve made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders:  We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists.  The world is watching; we will hold you accountable. (Applause.)  The Syrian people have the right to be freed from the grip of a dictator who would rather kill his own people than relinquish power.  (Applause.)  Assad must go so that Syria’s future can begin.  Because true stability in Syria depends upon establishing a government that is responsible to its people -- one that protects all communities within its borders, while making peace with countries beyond them.   These are the things I think about when I think about Israel’s security.  When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction.  It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat.  But this is not simply a challenge for Israel -- it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States.  (Applause.)  A nuclear-armed Iran would raise the risk of nuclear terrorism.  It would undermine the non-proliferation regime.  It would spark an arms race in a volatile region.  And it would embolden a government that has shown no respect for the rights of its own people or the responsibilities of nations.   That’s why America has built a coalition to increase the cost to Iran of failing to meet their obligations.  The Iranian government is now under more pressure than ever before, and that pressure is increasing.  It is isolated.  Its economy is in dire straits.  Its leadership is divided.  And its position -- in the region, and the world -- has only grown weaker.  (Applause.)   I do believe that all of us have an interest in resolving this issue peacefully.  (Applause.)  Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  Peace is far more preferable to war.  And the inevitable costs, the unintended consequences that would come with war means that we have to do everything we can to try to resolve this diplomatically.  Because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution.  That’s what America will do, with clear eyes -- working with a world that’s united, and with the sense of urgency that’s required.   But Iran must know this time is not unlimited.  And I’ve made the position of the United States of America clear:  Iran must not get a nuclear weapon.  This is not a danger that can be contained, and as President, I’ve said all options are on the table for achieving our objectives.  America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  (Applause.)   For young Israelis, I know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that is even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day.  You live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist.  Your grandparents had to risk their lives and all that they had to make a place for themselves in this world.  Your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the Jewish state.  Your children grow up knowing that people they’ve never met may hate them because of who they are, in a region that is full of turmoil and changing underneath your feet.   So that’s what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges –- that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who still reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it.  And that’s why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important.  It cannot be taken for granted.  But make no mistake -- those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere.  (Applause.)  And today, I want to tell you -- particularly the young people -- so that there's no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America -- Atem lo levad. You are not alone.  (Applause.)   The question is what kind of future Israel will look forward to.  Israel is not going anywhere -- but especially for the young people in this audience, the question is what does its future hold?  And that brings me to the subject of peace.  (Applause.)  I know Israel has taken risks for peace.  Brave leaders -- Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin -- reached treaties with two of your neighbors.  You made credible proposals to the Palestinians at Annapolis.  You withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, and then faced terror and rockets.  Across the region, you’ve extended a hand of friendship and all too often you’ve been confronted with rejection and, in some cases, the ugly reality of anti-Semitism. So I believe that the Israeli people do want peace, and I also understand why too many Israelis -- maybe an increasing number, maybe a lot of young people here today -- are skeptical that it can be achieved.   But today, Israel is at a crossroads.  It can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when Iron Dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers.  There's so many other pressing issues that demand your attention.  And I know that only Israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country’s future.  (Applause.)  I recognize that. I also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what I have to say about peace.  I recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise, have a different vision for Israel's future.  And that’s part of a democracy.  That's part of the discourse between our two countries.  I recognize that.  But I also believe it's important to be open and honest, especially with your friends.  I also believe that.  (Applause.) Politically, given the strong bipartisan support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside -- just express unconditional support for whatever Israel decides to do -- that would be the easiest political path. But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and I ask you to consider three points.    First, peace is necessary.  (Applause.)  I believe that.  I believe that peace is the only path to true security.  (Applause.)  You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future.  Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.  (Applause.)  That is true.  There are other factors involved.  Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation.  And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war.  Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.  (Applause.)    And this truth is more pronounced given the changes sweeping the Arab world.  I understand that with the uncertainty in the region -- people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rise of non-secular parties in politics -- it's tempting to turn inward, because the situation outside of Israel seems so chaotic. But this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve and commitment for peace.  (Applause.) Because as more governments respond to popular will, the days when Israel could seek peace simply with a handful of autocratic leaders, those days are over.  Peace will have to be made among peoples, not just governments.  (Applause.)  No one -- no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions.  No single step is going to erase years of history and propaganda.  But progress with the Palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelining extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division.  It would make a difference.  (Applause.)   So peace is necessary.  But peace is also just.  Peace is also just.  There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities.  That is all true.  And that’s why security must be at the center of any agreement.  And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations -- which is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.  It has to be done by the parties.  (Applause.)  But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized.  (Applause.)  Put yourself in their shoes.  Look at the world through their eyes.  It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own.  (Applause.)  Living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of those young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day.  It’s not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished.  (Applause.)  It’s not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; or restricting a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or displace Palestinian families from their homes.  (Applause.)  Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer.  (Applause.)  Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.  (Applause.) I’m going off script here for a second, but before I came here, I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of 15 to 22.  And talking to them, they weren’t that different from my daughters.  They weren’t that different from your daughters or sons.  I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those kids, they’d say, I want these kids to succeed; I want them to prosper.  (Applause.)  I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do.  I believe that’s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them.  (Applause.)  I believe that. Now, only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have.  But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians -- you will define the future of Israel as well.  (Applause.)  As Ariel Sharon said -- I'm quoting him -- “It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel.  If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.”  (Applause.)  Or, from a different perspective, I think of what the novelist David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace -- “A peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.”  (Applause.)   Now, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction.  (Applause.)  But while I know you have had differences with the Palestinian Authority, I genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.  (Applause.)  I believe that.  And they have a track record to prove it.  Over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the West Bank in ways that few could have imagined just a few years ago.  So many Palestinians -- including young people -- have rejected violence as a means of achieving their aspirations. There is an opportunity there, there’s a window -- which brings me to my third point:  Peace is possible.  It is possible. (Applause.)  I'm not saying it's guaranteed.  I can't even say that it is more likely than not.  But it is possible.  I know it doesn’t seem that way.  There are always going to be reasons to avoid risk.  There are costs for failure.  There will always be extremists who provide an excuse not to act.  I know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks, and daily controversies, and just the grinding status quo.  And I'm sure there's a temptation just to say, “Ah, enough.  Let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what I can control.”  But it's possible. Negotiations will be necessary, but there's little secret about where they must lead -- two states for two peoples.  Two states for two peoples.  (Applause.) There will be differences about how to get there.  There are going to be hard choices along the way.  Arab states must adapt to a world that has changed.  The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity, or government corruption or mismanagement -- those days need to be over.  (Applause.)  Now is the time for the Arab world to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel.  (Applause.)   Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security.  (Applause.)  Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn.  (Applause.)  I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for these talks.  But for the moment, put aside the plans and the process.  I ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people.   Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people -- politically, religiously, they must seem a world away.  But the things they want, they’re not so different from what the young people here want.  They want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education, get a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married; to raise a family. The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this morning.  The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza.    That's where peace begins -- not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.  Not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections -- that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem.  (Applause.)  And let me say this as a politician -- I can promise you this, political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks.  You must create the change that you want to see.  (Applause.)  Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.    I know this is possible.  Look to the bridges being built in business and civil society by some of you here today.  Look at the young people who’ve not yet learned a reason to mistrust, or those young people who’ve learned to overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents, because they simply recognize that we hold more hopes in common than fears that drive us apart.  Your voices must be louder than those who would drown out hope.  Your hopes must light the way forward.  Look to a future in which Jews and Muslims and Christians can all live in peace and greater prosperity in this Holy Land.  (Applause.)  Believe in that.  And most of all, look to the future that you want for your own children -- a future in which a Jewish, democratic, vibrant state is protected and accepted for this time and for all time.  (Applause.)    There will be many who say this change is not possible, but remember this -- Israel is the most powerful country in this region.  Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world.  (Applause.)  Israel is not going anywhere. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but -- this is in your nature -- Israel also has the courage to see the world as it should be.  (Applause.)  Ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”  Sometimes, the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change.  That's a lesson that the world has learned from the Jewish people.   And that brings me to the final area that I'll focus on: prosperity, and Israel’s broader role in the world.  I know that all the talk about security and peace can sometimes seem to dominate the headlines, but that's not where people live.  And every day, even amidst the threats that you face, Israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities that you're creating. Through talent and hard work, Israelis have put this small country at the forefront of the global economy.  Israelis understand the value of education and have produced 10 Nobel laureates.  (Applause.)  Israelis understand the power of invention, and your universities educate engineers and inventors.  And that spirit has led to economic growth and human progress -- solar power and electric cars, bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives, stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease, cell phones and computer technology that changed the way people around the world live.  So if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv, home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers.  (Applause.)  Israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different Facebook campaign about where I should give this speech.  (Laughter and applause.)   That innovation is just as important to the relationship between the United States and Israel as our security cooperation. Our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with Israel, nearly three decades ago.  (Applause.)  Today the trade between our two countries is at $40 billion every year.  (Applause.)  More importantly, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments; it’s pushing new frontiers of science and exploration.   That’s the kind of relationship that Israel should have -- and could have -- with every country in the world.  Already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region.  There’s a program here in Jerusalem that brings together young Israelis and Palestinians to learn vital skills in technology and business.  An Israeli and Palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance Palestinian start-ups.  Over 100 high-tech companies have found a home on the West Bank -- which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the Palestinian people. One of the great ironies of what’s happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for -- education, entrepreneurship, the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, the ability to connect to the global economy -- those are things that can be found here in Israel. This should be a hub for thriving regional trade, and an engine for opportunity.  (Applause.)  Israel is already a center for innovation that helps power the global economy.  And I believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, enhanced with lasting peace.  (Applause.) Here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world’s history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, Israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago.  Tomorrow, I will pay tribute to that history -- at the grave of Herzl, a man who had the foresight to see the future of the Jewish people had to be reconnected to their past; at the grave of Rabin, who understood that Israel’s victories in war had to be followed by the battles for peace; at Yad Vashem, where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the Jewish people and all of humanity if we ever fail to be vigilant. We bear all that history on our shoulders.  We carry all that history in our hearts.  Today, as we face the twilight of Israel’s founding generation, you -- the young people of Israel -- must now claim its future.  It falls to you to write the next chapter in the great story of this great nation. And as the President of a country that you can count on as your greatest friend -- (applause) -- I am confident that you can help us find the promise in the days that lie ahead.  And as a man who’s been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the Jewish experience -- tikkun olam -- (applause) -- I am hopeful that we can draw upon what’s best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come; to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war; and to do the work of repairing this world.  (Applause.)  That’s your job.  That’s my job.  That’s the task of all of us.  May God bless you.  May God bless Israel.  May God bless the United States of America.  Toda raba.  Thank you.  (Applause.) END 5:27 P.M. IST

19 марта 2013, 22:35

Obama urged: act tough on Israel or risk collapse of two-state solution

Critics warn that without US intervention Netanyahu's expansion of settlements will doom peace talks and threaten Israel itselfBarack Obama begins his first official visit to Israel on Wednesday amid growing warnings among some of its leading supporters in the US that president needs to act more forcefully to save Israel from itself.The White House has played down expectations that Obama will put any real effort into pressing Israel toward the creation of a Palestinian state after he was burned by an attempt early in his first term to pressure the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, into halting Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories.But there is increasing concern among some of Israel's backers in the US that without White House intervention the much promised two-state solution is doomed – and that will endanger Israel.Among those sounding the warning is the US secretary of state, John Kerry, who said earlier this year that "the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous, in my judgment".The inclusion of hardline pro-settler ministers in Netanyahu's new government, who are expected to press for the continued expansion of Israel's colonies in the West Bank, has heightened concerns in Washington that physical realities on the ground are making the prospect of a negotiated agreement ever more difficult.Others have pointed up a recent Hebrew University demographic study, which showed that Jews are now in a minority in the occupied territories – suggesting that Israel's democratic and Jewish character are threatened by its reluctance to give up territory to an independent Palestine.That led David Aaron Miller – a negotiator in efforts by the Clinton administration to broker an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and an adviser on Middle East policy to six US secretaries of state – to advise Obama to "take a quick tour around Israel's demographic neighbourhood" in order to understand the issue that might be most persuasive in pressuring Israeli leaders to take negotiations with the Palestinians seriously."Demographic trends mean that Israel can't have it all. It can't be a Jewish state, a democratic state, and a state in control of its whole historical land. It can only have two of its objectives at a time," he wrote in Foreign Policy."The demographic imperative probably appeals to Obama, a rational thinker who understands the importance of acting in the present to avoid future catastrophes. He has at least once referred to the demographic realities in his speeches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the president also knows from his own political choices that getting politicians to take risks now to prevent disasters and gain rewards later isn't so easy."It is a warning echoed earlier this month by S Daniel Abraham, a US billionaire, confidante of American and Israeli leaders, and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace in Washington, who chided the president for not using his visit to press Israel's leaders to confront the looming "tipping point"."Obama should realize that Israel's continued presence in the West Bank is an existential threat to its continuity as a democratic, Jewish state — and time is not on Israel's side," he wrote in the Atlantic."Right now – not in five or 10 years, but right now – only 50% of the people living in the Jewish state and in the areas under its control are Jews. The dreaded tipping point – which advocates of the two-solution have been warning about for years – has finally arrived."That is a warning reinforced by an Oscar-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers – in which former heads of the Israel's internal security organisation, the Shin Bet, warn that the occupation is endangering Israel – which has shaken up the assumptions among some in the Jewish community and among Israel's other supporters in the US.Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel and now vice-president of the Brookings Institution, said it is clear there is a growing sense of alarm among some policymakers in the US. But he said it may be misplaced."My sense is that this is the view of Secretary Kerry – that there's an urgency to try to not just resume negotiations but to resolve at least some of the critical issues in the conflict because the two-state solution is in danger of cardiac arrest. I think there is an urgency, but I don't actually think that if the window closes it can't be prised open again," he said."The simple reason for that is there is no alternative to the two-state solution – except no solution. And no solution for the time being may suit both sides… in preference to the kind of compromises and the hard decisions that have to be made in order to achieve a solution. We are fond of saying, and our leaders are fond of saying, the status quo is not sustainable. But if you go out there on both sides, especially compared to what is going on around them – in Syria to the north and Egypt to the south – the status quo, it's OK."Indyk said there will not be movement until leaders on both sides are prepared to make hard decisions, and that Obama is probably unwilling to force that after his "searing experience" of dealing with Netanyahu over the Jewish settlements four years ago."I think that there is something achievable, and I actually think it's very important. And that is that President Obama has the opportunity to reintroduce himself to the Israeli public. The first time he introduced himself to them was in Cairo, wherein he gave his speech in June 2009, which was, of course, addressed to the Arab world and not to Israel … And (Israelis) got the impression that he wants to distance the United States from Israel in order to curry favour with the Arab world," he said."It is hard to imagine that the president himself is going to do much more than make this visit. There are greener pastures that beckon him in Asia, and you can see, from a variety of other actions that he's taken or hasn't taken in the Middle East, that he would rather turn away from this region. John Kerry has exactly the opposite instinct. He wants to engage in the Middle East and, in particular, he wants to take on the Israeli-Palestinian challenge, and it's a high priority for him."There have also been calls from inside Israel for Obama to take a strong position with Netanyahu. Alon Liel, a former director general of the foreign ministry in Jerusalem and a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, said last week that Israel's rule over the occupied territory amounts to an "apartheid state" – a once taboo comparison that is increasingly heard in the US.He called on Obama to remain at home if he does not plan to warn Israelis about the dangers of the looming "apartheid cliff"."If you, President Obama, intend to come here for a courtesy visit, don't come. We don't need you here for a courtesy visit," Liel told a conference in Jerusalem."You cannot come to an area that exhibits signs of apartheid and ignore them. That would simply be an unethical visit. You yourself know full well that Israel is standing at the apartheid cliff. If you don't deal with this topic during your visit, the responsibility will at the end of the process also lie with you."Barack ObamaUS foreign policyIsraelUnited StatesUS politicsObama administrationPalestinian territoriesBinyamin NetanyahuMiddle East and North AfricaMiddle East peace talksShimon PeresChris McGrealguardian.co.uk © 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

08 марта 2013, 09:00

Gender innovation lab

The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) seeks to fill these complex knowledge gaps. Maintained by the Africa Region gender practice in partnership with other World Bank units, donors, National Global Organizations (NGOs) and researchers across the globe, the lab carries out rigorous impact evaluations for initiatives with an explicit or implicit gender perspective. It is the objective of the World Bank's Africa region to advance development for both men and women. Standing in the way are some grim facts. Agricultural yields for female farmers are significantly less than for their male counterparts, a pattern driven by lower use of labor, crop choice, and the fact that they are responsible for child rearing. Female-owned firms are also less profitable, in part because of the industries they are in, as well as discrimination in credit markets. And attitudes and norms such as inheritance practices perpetuate many of these inequalities across generations. There are still pressing knowledge gaps, particularly in the productive sectors and relating to voice and agency.

05 марта 2013, 18:20

Is Google Fueling The Ivory Trade?

BANGKOK -- A conservation group claims that Google has something in common with illicit ivory traders in China and Thailand: It says the Internet search giant is helping fuel a dramatic surge in ivory demand in Asia that is killing African elephants at record levels. The Environmental Investigation Agency, a conservation advocacy group, said in a statement Tuesday that there are some 10,000 ads on Google Japan's shopping site that promote the sale of ivory. About 80 percent of the ads are for "hanko," small wooden stamps widely used in Japan to affix signature seals to official documents. The rest are carvings and other small objects. Hanko are used for everything from renting a house to opening a bank account. The stamps are legal and typically inlaid with ivory lettering. The EIA said Japan's hanko sales are a "major demand driver for elephant ivory (and) have contributed to the wide-scale resumption of elephant poaching across Africa." Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press, "Ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them." The EIA said it had written a letter to Google CEO Larry Page on Feb. 22 urging the company to remove the ads because they violate Google's own policies. It said Google had not responded to the letter or taken down the advertisements. "While elephants are being mass slaughtered across Africa to produce ivory trinkets, it is shocking to discover that Google, with the massive resources it has at its disposal, is failing to enforce its own policies designed to help protect endangered elephants," said Allan Thorton, the U.S.-based president of the EIA. Curbing the trade in so-called "blood ivory" is at the top of the agenda of the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, which is meeting in Bangkok this week to discuss how to protect the planet's biodiversity by regulating the legal trade of flora and fauna and clamping down on smuggling. Around 70 years ago, up to 5 million elephants are believed to have roamed sub-Saharan Africa. Today, just several hundred thousand are left. Over the last few years, as Asian economies have grown and demand for ivory has risen, the slaughter of elephants has reached its worst level in more than two decades. Last year alone, some 32,000 elephants were killed in Africa, according to the Born Free Foundation, which says black-market ivory sells for around $1,300 per pound. Much of it ends up as tourist trinkets and carvings. CITES banned the international ivory trade in 1989, but the move did not address domestic markets. Wildlife groups say legal ivory markets in China and Thailand are used to hide much larger trade in illegally poached ivory. Japan imported stockpiles of ivory before it began complying with the CITES rules. Google's advertising policies state that Google "doesn't allow the promotion of products obtained from endangered or threatened species," including elephant tusks, rhino horns and products made from whales, sharks and dolphins. Thorton said the policies were laudable "but sadly these are not being enforced and that's devastating." Concerned Internet shoppers have alleged that ivory is being sold on other sites as well, including eBay. Some objects now offered for more than $1,000 apiece are marketed as "ox-bone" or "faux ivory." At least one wildlife group, the United Kingdom-based International Fund for Animal Welfare, has said it has worked with eBay to help them enforce anti-ivory trading policies by showing them how their rules are being flouted and improving efforts to flag suspicious items. In 2007, IFAW alleged that eBay was "one of the main channels through which trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products are conducted online," but it has said the shopping site clamped down after IFAW shared research with them concerning illegal trading.

21 февраля 2013, 19:19

Global business barometer

Our interactive business-confidence graphicBUSINESS people have turned bullish everywhere except eastern Europe, according to the latest Economist/FT survey. Overall confidence, measured as the balance of respondents who think global business conditions will improve against those who expect them to get worse, rose from a dismal minus 11 percentage points in the last quarter of 2012 to plus seven in the first quarter of 2013. That pushes the barometer into positive territory for the first time since 2011. Executives in the Middle East and Africa are particularly upbeat—more than a third believe business conditions will improve over the next six months. Those in transport and tourism are the most optimistic; those in technology and the public sector, the least. Overall, four out of five executives think the euro crisis is not yet over. On banking regulation, more than half of respondents say it has not gone far enough. Still, growing optimism should feed through to jobs. Nearly half of firms expect to have more employees by next January compared with only a fifth who expect to have fewer.The Economist/FT global business barometer is a survey conducted four times a year by the Economist Intelligence Unit in order to gauge trends in business confidence. Based on the responses of more than 1,500 senior executives, it measures overall confidence by looking at the balance of those who think global business conditions will improve over the next six months against those who expect them to worsen. Our interactive barometer allows you to track business sentiment over time. You can look at the results by region or industry. The "in focus" section highlights responses to topical supplementary questions each quarter.

21 февраля 2013, 19:19

The Economist/FT survey: Global business barometer

Our interactive business-confidence graphicBUSINESS people have turned bullish everywhere except eastern Europe, according to the latest Economist/FT survey. Overall confidence, measured as the balance of respondents who think global business conditions will improve against those who expect them to get worse, rose from a dismal minus 11 percentage points in the last quarter of 2012 to plus seven in the first quarter of 2013. That pushes the barometer into positive territory for the first time since 2011. Executives in the Middle East and Africa are particularly upbeat—more than a third believe business conditions will improve over the next six months. Those in transport and tourism are the most optimistic; those in technology and the public sector, the least. Overall, four out of five executives think the euro crisis is not yet over. On banking regulation, more than half of respondents say it has not gone far enough. Still, growing optimism should feed through to jobs. Nearly half of firms expect to have more employees by next January compared with only a fifth who expect to have fewer.The Economist/FT global business barometer is a survey conducted four times a year by the Economist Intelligence Unit in order to gauge trends in business confidence. Based on the responses of more than 1,500 senior executives, it measures overall confidence by looking at the balance of those ...

20 февраля 2013, 09:00

Southern Africa floods : Mozambique and surrounding countries

Mozambique is experiencing its worst flooding since 2000, primarily in the Limpopo river basin. More than 50,000 people are reported to be affected. The Government has deployed military units and additional resources to rescue and assist populations at risk. The main affected sectors include transport, housing, shelter and health for displaced people. This situation report focuses on Mozambique, providing an overview of the situation, and likely response from the Government, donors and the World Bank. A brief overview of the situation in other South African countries is also included.

04 февраля 2013, 16:59

Gold Reaches 155,180 Yen/oz - Near Record In Japanese Yen

From GoldCore Gold Reaches 155,180 Yen/oz - Near Record In Japanese Yen Today’s AM fix was USD 1,664.25, EUR 1,224.52, and GBP 1,057.47 per ounce. Friday’s AM fix was USD 1,665.00, EUR 1,217.99, and GBP 1,052.46 per ounce. Silver is trading at $31.57/oz, €23.37/oz and £20.17/oz. Platinum is trading at $1,701.00/oz, palladium at $754.00/oz and rhodium at $1,200/oz. Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg) Gold rose $3.00 or 0.18% in New York Friday and closed at $1,667.80/oz. Silver surged to a high of $32.14 and finished with a gain of 1.18%.  Gold advanced 0.54% for the week, while silver was up 1.99%. Gold rose initially on Monday prior to seeing determined selling. Gold was unable to break its narrow trading range despite rising after the poor GDP number last week. While sentiment towards gold remains lukewarm due to recent tepid price action and confusing, mixed economic data, platinum rose to a 4 month high ($1,705.25) and palladium soared to its highest since September 2011 ($759.75) primarily due to concerns about supply especially from South Africa. The run up in platinum and palladium is also due to U.S. auto sales reporting that January topped estimates, as car buyers returned to U.S. showrooms. This week’s U.S. economic highlights include Factory Orders at 1500 GMT today, ISM Services on Tuesday, Initial Jobless Claims, Productivity, Unit Labor Costs, and Consumer Credit on Thursday, and the Trade Balance and Wholesale Inventories on Friday. The Eurozone Sentiment and PPI are also released today and currency and gold traders will be paying close attention to the ECB's monthly policy statement on Thursday for any attempt by the ECB to weaken the euro as currency wars heat up. The Chinese week long holiday for the Lunar New Year starts on Saturday and therefore physical buying will continue this week and lend support prior to becoming quiet next week. Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, remained unchanged for its 4th session at 1,328.092 tonnes The benchmark gold on Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) hit a record high of 5,000 yen a gram, driven by a weak yen and the continuation of the Bank of Japan’s loose monetary policy. XAU/JPY, 1 Year – (Bloomberg) Gold bullion for delivery in December climbed as high as 1.2% to 5,000 yen per gram on the TOCOM. In ounce terms, the yen fell to 155,180/oz against gold, its highest level since 1980.  According to the data on Bloomberg, the all-time record high for gold priced in yen was 204,850 yen on January 21, 1980. Thus, yen gold remains 33% below the record intraday nominal high from 1980. Given the Japanese determination to devalue the yen to escape deflation, the record nominal high will almost certainly be reached in the coming months. Platinum also climbed 2.7% to 5,130 yen per gram for the same month, the highest level for the most-active contract since May of 2010. The yen was 92.97 per dollar on Feb. 1st its, the lowest ratio since May 2010. The Japanese yen dropped 2.1% last week its 12thweek of losses in a row. Despite Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso claiming that “the objectives from the current government are not intended to weaken the yen” – that is exactly what is happening. XAU/JPY, Quarterly, 1971-Today – (Bloomberg) A cheaper yen boosts Japanese exporters.  It helps increase the earnings abroad when they are funnelled back into yen, plus it lowers the price abroad of goods that are made in Japan and exported.  The country’s strong auto and electronics sector benefitting from the cheap yen are outperforming the benchmark index.  The yen fell by more than 20% against gold in 2012 and analysts are concerned that Prime Minister Abe and his new government’s determination to stoke inflation, devalue the currency and promote growth could lead to further falls in 2013. Competitive currency devaluations are set to continue and currency wars deepen and such beggar thy neighbour monetary policies will lead to debased currencies, inflation and the real risk of an international monetary crisis. NEWS   Gold in Tokyo Advances to Record; Platinum Reaches Two-Year High - Bloomberg Gold Little Changed as Investors Weigh U.S. Jobs, Growth Outlook - Bloomberg Gold slips as upbeat U.S. data trims safe-haven draw - Reuters Platinum Market Seen Producing Deficit of up to 760,000 Ounces in 2013 – Fox Business COMMENTARY The Case Of The Disappearing Gold – Zero Hedge Dubai gold dealers shun Turkish bars on fears of Iran link - Mineweb Former Iranian Central Bank Head Caught Smuggling $70 Million Bank Of Venezuela Check Into Germany  - Associate PressThe looming gold ‘production cliff’ – Mining.com

31 января 2013, 16:58

Israel must withdraw all settlers or face ICC, says UN report

UN Human Rights Council says Israel is in violation of Geneva convention and should face international criminal courtIsrael must withdraw all settlers from the West Bank or potentially face a case at the international criminal court (ICC) for serious violations of international law, says a report by a United Nations agency that was immediately dismissed in Jerusalem as "counterproductive and unfortunate".All settlement activity in occupied territory must cease "without preconditions" and Israel "must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers", said the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Israel, it said, was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention, which forbids the transfer of civilian populations to occupied territory.The settlements were "leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination," it said.The UNHRC report broadly restated international consensus on the illegality of Israeli settlements. But its conclusions are likely to bolster the Palestinians following their admission last November to the UN as a non-member state, which potentially gives them recourse to the ICC."The Rome statute establishes the international criminal court's jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory," said the UNHRC report .It added: "Ratification of the statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims."In a statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said: "Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us – will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that."Israel refused to co-operate with UNHRC investigators over the report, barring them from access to the West Bank. Investigators conducted more than 50 interviews in Jordan with Palestinians about the impact of settlements, the confiscation of and damage to land, and violent attacks by settlers.Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian politician, said the report's findings were a "clear and unequivocal indictment of the illegal Israeli settlement policies and practices." Israel, she added, was "liable to prosecution"."The report concludes that the goal behind the terror and violence of the Israeli settlers is to expel the Palestinians from their lands in order to expand illegal settlements; this is a clearly a form of forced transfer, and a proof of Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing," she said.Earlier this week, Israel became the first country to refuse to participate in a "universal periodic review" of the human rights records of the UN's 193 member states, conducted by the UNHRC.Palestinian and Israeli human rights group said Israel's boycott of the review set a "dangerous precedent … that could be followed by other states refusing to engage with the UN in order to avoid critical appraisals".The UNHRC rescheduled the review for later in the year in order to give Israel time to reconsider its stance.Israel also refused to co-operate with a UN investigation, headed by Richard Goldstone, into the three-week war in 2008-09, and it has refused entry to Israel to Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, since his appointment in 2008.According to the UNHRC's report on settlements, Israel has established around 250 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, home to more than half a million Israeli citizens.The settlements impede Palestinian access to water resources and agricultural lands, it said.Following the Palestinians' upgrade to non-member state status, the Israeli government announced a fresh wave of settlement-building, including the development of a highly sensitive swath of land east of Jerusalem known as E1. Palestinians and most international diplomats say construction on E1 will effectively close off East Jerusalem from the West Bank and impede a territorially contiguous Palestinian state.IsraelPalestinian territoriesMiddle East and North AfricaUnited NationsHuman rightsInternational criminal courtHarriet Sherwoodguardian.co.uk © 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

21 января 2013, 15:22

These Should be on Your Radar Screen

  The US dollar begins the week mostly firmer.  The notable exception is the Japanese yen, which has seen some position adjustment ahead of the outcome of the BOJ meeting tomorrow.  In Asia, and Europe thus far, the dollar has found support near its five day moving average and the 38.2% retracement of its latest leg up (from Jan 16), both of which come in near JPY89.30.  The recovery of the yen took a toll on Japanese stocks.  The Nikkei lost 1.5% and posted an outside down day (trading on both sides of Friday's ranges and finishing below Friday's low).   The euro has been confined to an exception narrow range of about 15 ticks on either side of $1.3315.  A break of support in the $1.3260-80 area would lend credence to our argument that a top of some import is being carved out, with a potential double top at $1.34.   Sterling saw follow through selling on top of the pre-weekend losses.  The euro traded at 10-month highs against sterling above GBP0.8400, but is reversing lower near midday in London.  A modest bounce in cable seen in the European morning ran out of steam near $1.5900, which likely now marks the upper end of the new range.   Equity markets are mixed, with the MSCI Asia-Pacific seeing a 0.2% decline, dragged down by Japanese shares, and to a lesser extent Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia.  European bourses are higher with the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 advancing almost 0.5%, led by utilities, basic materials and technology.  While the US market is closed today, before the weekend the three main gauges, Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 5-year highs.  This week's earnings feature technology giants Apple, Google, IBM, and United Technologies.   There was a potentially important development in the US fiscal drama.  Some Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing a three-month extension on the debt ceiling to give more time to negotiate a long-term deal.  It is not yet immediately clear if the measure has sufficient Republican support--remember Bohener's Plan B?--or if Obama will agree to it, after having the lack of interest in a short-term fix.  Still it shows some fluidity of the situation and should ease what little concern that had really been that the US would default.   In a very tight election in Lower Saxony, the real winner, regardless of the formation of the new state government is the Free Democrat Party, and by extension German Chancellor Merkel.  Merkel's CDU party depends on a coalition with the FDP, but over the past year, the FDP has been trounced in most state elections.  The conventional view that the national election later with year would result in another grand coalition was predicated on the inability of the FDP to deliver.  Some feared it would not even meet the 5% threshold to secure parliamentary membership.  In Lower Saxony, the FDP defied expectations and received almost 10% of the vote, more than twice what the opinion polls suggested.  Yet, FDP party head and Economics Minister Roesler offered to resign and threw his support toward Bruederle, the head of the party's parliament caucus, who is regarded as more dynamic and with some hope he can revive the party's fortunes.  A formal leadership decision in May.    The SPD and Greens eked out a surprise victory, but  Steinbrueck, the SPD candidate for Chancellor,  apologized for his gaffes in the national campaign, which may have cost the SPD votes in the local contest.        The most anticipated event of the week is tomorrow's conclusion of the BOJ meeting.  The pressure on the BOJ from the new Abe government is widely recognized and with its recent economy assessment, in which most regions were downgraded, the BOJ cannot be content either.  There is, therefore, little doubt the BOJ will take action.  However, the impact of some of the measures that have been discussed like open-ended QE or a 2% inflation goal is questionable.  What does open-ended QE mean when the BOJ has increased the amount of assets it is buying repeatedly ?  How is a 2% inflation goal credible when it has failed to achieve its 1% goal?    Similarly, a cut in the interest paid on reserves is possible, but it is not clear how that would be inflationary or stimulative.   Our fundamental and technical analysis warns that the market is vulnerable to disappointment or a "sell the rumor buy the fact" type of activity. There has been some position adjustment today as the dollar still has not been able to sustain a move above JPY90. In terms of intent, the imagery we still think apropos is blowing (hot) air underneath the (yen's) parachute to increase the likelihood of a soft landing and reduce the antagonism that its strategy engenders.     There are two aspects of the technical condition of that are worth underscoring.  First, we think there was significant deterioration of the major foreign currencies, with sterling convincingly violating a 7-month uptrend line, the dramatic weakness of the Swiss franc, and new multi-week lows for the Australian and Canadian dollars.  The euro has fared best, but technically appears vulnerable.  Second, we note that implied volatility in the currency markets has trended higher in recent weeks. Before the weekend, 3-month euro vol reached its highest level since Oct.  It reached a low in late Nov near 6.4% and now is near 8.6%.  3-month yen vol is at its highest level since Sept 2011 near 11.2%.  On the eve of the election announcement in mid-Nov, it was near 7%, having bottomed a month earlier near 6.55%.  Sterling vol is at its highest level in four months near 7.3%.  It bottomed in middle of last month near 5.25%.   The euro area finance minister meet today.  Cyprus aid package is not ready and it won't be for at least a couple more months.  Greece is progressing towards another tranche amid fresh call from the IMF than even if the country stays on track, it will need another 9 bln euros of assistance (perhaps in the form of further official sector concessions, Merkel has hinted in the latter years of its current program).  There may also be some discussion of Spain.  Perhaps the one notable action from the Eurogroup is that Juncker who has been the leader, with mixed reviews, including last week's gaffe about the euro, is stepping down.  His likely replacement, the new Dutch Finance Minister Dijsselbloem, has been widely tipped.     A more pressing issue for investors is the implication of the repayment of LTRO funds by the banks starting next week.  Speculation that it would tighten financial conditions saw euribor yields rise sharply.    ECB's Coeure tried to calm market anxiety by indicating that he did not expect an impact on Eonia from the settlement.    The implied yield of the  March 13 Euribor futures contract has been trending higher since early December. The backing up in money market rates in Europe did not coincide with a stronger euro. We anticipate some stabilization in euribor in the days ahead, awaiting indications of the size of the repayments.  Forecasts generally seem to range between 100-200 bln euros of the roughly trillion euros outstanding.   In addition, we draw your attention to the following events and data:  Australia's Q4 CPI on Tuesday could sway expectations for the RBA meeting in early February.  Presently there is about a 40% chance of a 25 bp rate cut discounted.  Although the headline pace of inflation likely accelerated, the core rate appears stable and has not been an obstacle to easier RBA policy.  The release of the BOE minutes will likely reaffirm market expectations that a resumption of QE is not imminent, even though the economy appears to have contracted in Q4 (first estimate released on Friday, Jan 25).  Europe reports the flash PMI readings in Thurs.   A critical issue is if Germany, which appears to have contracted in Q4, is in a recession (as defined by two consecutive quarters of contracting GDP (though note that technically, a recession in the US is determined by National Bureau of Economic Research and it uses a broader definition).   I   In emerging markets, we note that the tone of Mexico's central bank statement was more dovish than expected before the weekend.    It effectively removed any lingering threat of a hike, though we do not expect a rate cut either.  Israel goes to the polls and barring a significant surprise, we do not expect much of a market reaction, though note that the dollar has found bids ahead of 1-year lows near ILS3.70.   Three emerging market central banks meet this week, Turkey, the Philippines and South Africa.   The only action we expect is a 25 bp rate cut by South Africa.  The rand has been the weakest since the start of the year, losing 4.5% against the dollar, but many have their sights on the ZAR9.0, the high from October and again in November.