Home / 2012 / March (page 4)

Monthly Archives: March 2012

South Korea Reduces Dollar Holdings by 5%

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, pared the share of dollars in its foreign-exchange reserves to the lowest level since the global financial crisis erupted in 2007.

Dollar holdings dropped to 60.5 percent of foreign- exchange reserves at the end of last year from 63.7 percent in 2010, the central bank said in its annual report for 2011 released today.

The drop underscores a shift among reserve managers to diversify assets, with China’s yuan and Australia’s dollar among the beneficiaries. South Korea’s government earlier this year announced plans to invest in Chinese equities as well as bonds as the yuan’s international role increases.

“The move to diversify reserves away from U.S. dollars and the euro accelerated last year, largely on weaker fiscal fundamentals and subdued economic conditions in developed markets,” Wai Ho Leong, a senior regional economist atBarclays Capital in Singapore, said in an e-mail. “At the same time, it marked a move into gold, and bonds of stable emerging-market economies, particularly those with better longer-term prospects and currency appreciation potential.”

The central bank boosted the proportion of equity investments to 5.4 percent last year from 3.8 percent, it said. Holdings of foreign government bonds rose to 36.8 percent from 35.8 percent in 2010, the BOK said.

Confidence in Dollar

While the proportion of dollar holdings declined to the lowest since 2007, when the central bank began to disclose details about its asset portfolio, the change doesn’t reflect a lack of confidence in the currency, Kang Sung Kyung, a director at the bank’s Reserve Management Group, told reporters in Seoul today…”

Read more

Comments »

BRICS Markets to Start Trading Futures as Wealthier Investors Need More Product

“Exchanges in the biggest emerging economies will begin trading futures based on each other’s benchmark stock indexes today as rising wealth spurs demand for new investment products.

The five members of the BRICS Exchanges Alliance will cross-list futures on Brazil’s Bovespa Index (IBOV), Russia’s Micex Index (INDEXCF), the BSE India Sensitive Index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) and South Africa’s JSE Top40 Index. Traders engaged in arbitrage will be able to buy and sell futures based on the same index on multiple venues, boosting liquidity, according to Mumbai-based BSE Ltd….”

Read more

Comments »

Russia Claims Iran is Breaking U.N. Resolutions

Iran is breaching United Nations resolutions and increasing the size of its nuclear program amid an “alarming” escalation in global rhetoric toward its atomic plans, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“The scale of the Iranian nuclear program is expanding,” Ryabkov said yesterday in an interview in New Delhi. This “is in direct violation of UN resolutions.”

The so-called BRICS group of major emerging nations that met yesterday in India said the situation in Iran can’t “be allowed to escalate into conflict,” according to a communique. Iran faces growing economic and financial sanctions over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies say is a cover for making atomic weapons. Iran says it’s for civilian purposes.

A military confrontation over the nation’s nuclear plans would trigger a new global economic crisis, Ryabkov said, adding that he doesn’t rule out strikes against Iran by countries such asIsrael.

The BRICS group is worried that a failure to reach a political agreement will lead to “an explosion of energy prices with a subsequent slowdown in the economic recovery and a collapse in energy prices soon after that,” Ryabkov said.

‘Very Alarming’….”

Read more

Comments »

Europe Increases Bailout Funds to Further Enhance the Firewall Around Spain and Italy

“European governments moved to bolster their rescue funds, seeking to shield Spain and Italyfrom the fallout of the debt crisis without alienating bailout- weary voters in wealthy countries.

Finance ministers neared an agreement to run the temporary and permanent funds in parallel until mid-2013, potentially raising the upper limit on emergency lending to 940 billion euros ($1.3 trillion). Amounts immediately available would range between 340 billion euros and 640 billion euros.

“I can imagine that both instruments run in parallel so that automatically we have a higher sum overall,” Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter told reporters before a meeting of European finance ministers in Copenhagen today.

European policy makers are trying to strike a balance between meeting international demands for a more powerful war chest and opposition in donor countries led by Germany to providing additional aid for underperforming economies on the region’s fringes.

Today’s step will lift the maximum aid sum from 500 billion euros. It involves running the 500 billion-euro permanent European Stability Mechanism alongside the 200 billion euros committed by the temporary fund to Greece, Ireland andPortugal, according to a draft statement prepared for the meeting….”

Read more

Comments »

Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran

Alexander Marquardt

JERUSALEM – Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

Read the rest here.

Comments »

Critical Race Theory and the Trayvon Martin Case

by Joel B. Pollak

The Trayvon Martin case shows, once again, the effect of Derrick Bell’s radical Critical Race Theory on President Barack Obama and his administration.

Critical Race Theory holds that the law itself is characterized by white supremacy–an idea Obama invoked by insisting that Americans “examine the laws” that supposedly led to Martin’s death. And Bell often promoted his theory with fictional projections about race–just as racial fiction is driving Obama’s response to the case.

Consider the following quote, from Tuesday, March 27 (video below):

I’m not here just for George. I’m here for my kids. I’m here for every other young black man. I understand why everybody is upset. If I didn’t know George, I’d be upset, too. If I didn’t know what I know, I’d be just as outraged. But once this is all over, we still have to address the problem that has brought us to this point in the first place, and that’s the fear that we have of each other, the fear that we have of young black men…We’ve got a black president, and yet we continue to stereotype young black men. I get that. We’ve got to continue this conversation after this is over, because it goes beyond Trayvon and George…This particular incident, this confrontation between Trayvon and George, had nothing to do with race. But because of our racial history, because of Sanford’s racial history, that’s why we’re at where we are now…I’ve got an 18-year-old son. My heart goes out to the Martins. I am a black man. Like my friend George, I’m just trying to do the right thing.

Those were the tearful words of Joe Oliver, who has been defending his good friend Zimmerman in the midst of the media frenzy over Martin’s terrible death. Oliver is pleading with the public to consider, patiently, the facts of this particular case, without letting them be overwhelmed by broader–and valid–issues about race.

He is resisting a version of the Martin case told by the mainstream media, the organized left, and the Obama administration that is filled with fantasy and driven by Critical Race Theory’s assumptions about the law.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that George Zimmerman is guilty of a crime for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. Let’s further stipulate that young black men are routinely profiled and suspected of crimes, even when completely innocent.

Even with those assumptions in place, it is clear that important elements of the story are being invented, or obscured–the first being that Zimmerman is a “white Hispanic.”

That fabrication–“the police department hasn’t arrested Zimmerman because he is white and [Martin] was black”–allowed the media to set up the story as a racial morality play, a white-versus-black tale that defined the villain and the hero in trite, familiar terms.

Then President Barack Obama waded in, playing up the racial drama (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”). He suggested that beyond the “specifics of the incident,” we ought to do some “soul-searching” and “examine the laws and the context for what happened,” as if Martin had been killed by the legal system. That further fueled debate over “stand your ground” laws–which happen to protect black defendants as well.

As evidence mounted that the incident “had nothing to do with race,” as Oliver says, the left and its media outlets worked overtime to paint Zimmerman as a racist. MSNBC, for one, used selective editing to reinforce the meme, quoting Zimmerman as having told a 911 dispatcher: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good…he looks black.” The ellipsis hid the fact that it was the dispatcher who had asked Zimmerman about Martin’s race.

As the hysteria grew, Democrats, media commentators, and left-wing celebrities began advocating vigilante justice against Zimmerman–suggesting that he be locked up “for his own safety,” or tweeting what they thought was his home address. The irony that innocent black men were once victimized by similar methods in the not-too-distant past never occurred to the enraged perpetrators of this attempt at new media mob rule.

This was Andrew Breitbart’s “Democrat-media complex” at work–coordinating a false meme about race, ignoring available facts, and making up fake evidence to reinforce a political agenda that relies on division and fear. In the process, the media, the left, and the Obama administration not only made Zimmerman’s life–and other lives–miserable, but also denied Martin any real hope of justice by poisoning the potential jury pool.

Obama–the center of the crisis, and to some extent its intended beneficiary–once warned us about “jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.” That was when the accused was Nidal Hasan, an avowed Islamic terrorist. Obama’s caution in that case was intended to obscure the faith of the killer.

In contrast, Obama’s response in the Martin case has reinforced media distortions about race, and Critical Race Theory’s distortions about the law itself.

Joe Oliver’s emotional words remind us that facts matter, that individuals matter, and that truth matters–and that these must take priority even over the very real racial issues with which our country struggles.

To speculate that Zimmerman is guilty based on the available facts is one thing; to convict him based on his supposed race, and on Martin’s, is the classic definition of “prejudice.”

And Obama, the media, and the left are promoting it.


Comments »

Canada Ups Retirement Age in Bid to Balance Budget

Michel Comte

Canada’s center-right government called for the retirement age to be raised and for major public service cuts Thursday, in an austerity budget that aims to balance the books by 2016.

Tackling unpopular measures that many industrialized countries are being forced to consider as their populations age, the Canadian government said its budget would help the country move a step ahead.

“Other Western countries face the risk of long-term economic decline. We have a rare opportunity to position our country for sustainable, long-term growth,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in the House of Commons.

“Looking ahead, Canadians have every reason to be confident,” he said presenting what was dubbed a budget for “the next generation.”

Under the plan, Canada will cut its deficit this year through “moderate” spending cuts, as the economy grows by 2.1 percent, Flaherty announced.

Read the rest here.

Comments »

Four Numbers Add Up to an American Debt Disaster

Caroline Baum

Consider the following numbers: 2.2, 62.8, 454, 5.9.

Drawing a blank? Not to worry. They don’t mean much on their own.

Now consider them in context:

1) 2.2 percent is the average interest rate on the U.S. Treasury’s marketable and non-marketable debt (February data).

2) 62.8 months is the average maturity of the Treasury’s marketable debt (fourth quarter 2011).

3) $454 billion is the interest expense on publicly held debt in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30.

4) $5.9 trillion is the amount of debt coming due in the next five years.

For the moment, Nos. 1 and 2 are helping No. 3 and creating a big problem for No. 4. Unless Treasury does something about No. 2, Nos. 1 and 3 will become liabilities while No. 4 has the potential to provoke a crisis.

In plain English, the Treasury’s reliance on short-term financing serves a dual purpose, neither of which is beneficial in the long run. First, it helps conceal the depth of the nation’s structural imbalances: the difference between what it spends and what it collects in taxes. Second, it puts the U.S. in the precarious position of having to roll over 71 percent of its privately held marketable debt in the next five years — probably at higher interest rates.

Read the rest here.

Comments »

Ignore GDP: This Is the Obscure Stat That Explains the Hot Recovery

Matthew O’Brien

The recovery is real, even if it’s not spectacular, and Gross Domestic Income explains why.

Something odd has happened the past few months. The job numbers tell us the recovery is accelerating. The GDP numbers say it’s not. This discrepancy has confounded expectations because there’s usually a fairly stable relationship between the GDP and employment — economists call it Okun’s Law. The growth-and-jobs gap has since launched a thousand blog posts.

But it turns out there might not be a gap, after all. Today we received news that GDI grew at a gangbusters rate in the fourth quarter of 2011. Bye-bye, growth-and-jobs gap.

What the heck is GDI?

Read the rest here.

Comments »


Headline via DrudgeReport.com

See video of gripping victim impact statements here

Parents of murdered British students criticise Barack Obama (via telegraph.co.uk)

The parents of two British students murdered in Florida have criticised President Barack Obama for his lack of compassion over their son’s deaths.

Shawn Tyson

Image 1 of 2
Shawn Tyson
 By Paul Thompson in Sarasota

3:00PM BST 29 Mar 2012

 His failure to respond to three letters sent to the White House was because there was no “political value” and not worthy of a few minutes of his time.

They spoke out as teenager Shawn Tyson began a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder of James Cooper and James Kouzaris last April.

The 17 year old, who shot the men as they begged for their lives, will die in prison.

His conviction of first degree murder carries an mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole.

The powerfully built teen even looked bored as emotional DVD presentations about the dead men prepared by their grieving parents were shown in court.

Tyson, who has the word ‘Savage’ tattooed across his chest didn’t show a flicker of emotion, slumping in his seat as he was forced to watch a montage of photos showing the victims from early childhood to young men.

Two close friends of the dead men who had attended the eight day trial in Sarasota, Florida. had also delivered highly emotional impact statements to the court prior to the sentencing.

Paul Davies and Joe Hallett spoke of the “living hell” they and others who knew the men had suffered since the murders.

During the eight day trial they had been shown graphic crime scene and autopsy photos shown in court.

Later speaking after Tyson was jailed Davies and Hallett lashed out at Mr Obama saying the deaths of their friends was “not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”

Davies said:”We would like to publicly express our dissatisfaction at the lack of any public or private message of support or condolence from any American governing body or indeed, President Obama himself.

“Mr Kouzaris has written to President Obama on three separate occasions and is yet to even receive the courtesy of a reply.

“It would perhaps appear that Mr Obama sees no political value in facilitating such a request or that the lives of two British tourists are not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”

The rebuke follows Mr Obama’s personal intervention into the shooting in Florida of a young black teenager by a white-Hispanic neighbourhood watch captain.

The death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin has sparked nationwide protests with his supporters claiming he was victim of a racist attack.

Mr Obama entered the controversy last week by saying if he had a son he would have looked like Martin.

The alleged assailant in Martin’s death has not been charged with any crime having claimed he was attacked first and used Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law to shoot in self defence.

The criticism of the US President was made on behalf of the Cooper’s parents Stanley and Sandy, from Warwicks, and Peter and Hazel Kouzaris, from Northampton by Davies in a statement read outside the courtroom.

The parents of the two victims did not attend the trial but they had access to the proceedings from a live video feed.

The filmed interview of the Kouzaris’s was played to the court while a message from Sandy Cooper was read out by the prosecutor.

The victims close friends delivered an emotional impact statement with Hallett telling Tyson he hoped he would be haunted by his actions.

He told him: “Imagine them being killed. Now try to imagine that they died because someone creept up on them and shot them numerous times for no good reason. Welcome to our world. Every night you go to sleep, every morning you wake up, I want you to think of my friends who you murdered. Their images will be imprinted on your conscience up until your very last breath in life.”

Comments »

BlackBerry to Conduct Strategic Review

By Paul Taylor in New York

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is to conduct a major review of “strategic opportunities”, including the possibility of outsourcing device manufacturing or a sale of the company.

Thorsten Heins, chief executive of the Canadian smartphone maker, detailed a dramatic fall in sales in the latest quarter but emphasised that a disposal of RIM was “not the main direction we are pursuing”.

Read the rest here.

Comments »