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Predator Drone ‘Double-Taps’ Highlight Possible War Crimes by Obama

“When the re-election of President Obama was official, I was very interested to see what would happen to the trajectory of foreign military interventions — especially the use of unmanned Predator drones. We didn’t have to wait long, however; within hours of being reelected, Obama celebrated with strikes in Yemen. As unaccountable, lawless, and dangerous as U.S. use of drone warfare has been under the Obama administration, new developments reveal that it may actually be getting worse.

NYU student Josh Begley has been tweetingevery U.S. drone strike since President Bush’s first bombing in Yemen back in 2002, and his Twitter feed highlights an incredibly disturbing tactic. The U.S. is employing a “double-tap” method in its use of drones, which means the bombing of a target multiple times in a very short period of time.

These “double-tap” attacks end up hitting “first responders” to the rubble and ashes that are left over after the initial strike, and Begley’s tweets reveal that the U.S. has been intentionally targeting funerals and civilian rescuers.

While these tactics, when discussed at all (Obama’s drone program is shrouded in an intense level of secrecy), are justified under the rubric of “national security,” even the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have classified “double-taps” as staples of terrorists, not the repertoire of supposed constitutional republics.

So while the “double-tap” method may please the likes of Hamas and the abortion clinic bomberEric Rudolph, these attacks, even by the most broad definitions of international law, are blatant war crimes….”

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Breakthrough Possible in EU Banking Talks

“Euro zone finance ministers may achieve a “breakthrough” on Wednesday in their talks in Brussels on reforming supervision of Europe’s banks, a German government official said.

Germany and France have been at loggerheads over how many banks the European Central Bank should directly supervise and some other details.

“We hope for major progress and perhaps a breakthrough (in the talks),” the German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had told the German cabinet he was “optimistic” about a deal.

“We are ready to contribute to a solution on banking supervision. We have some questions but if they can be resolved by finance ministers today then Germany will not stand in the way of an agreement,” the source said.

But reaching a deal, which EU leaders want to sign off when they meet at a summit on Thursday and Friday, will require addressing the concerns of Germany, whose support is crucial,while also satisfying France and others with deep vested interests such as Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

“It’s not an easy one for Germany,” said one diplomat, close to the talks. “But the markets are watching us.” Another diplomat said it came down to a conflict between quality and speed: For the best banking union possible to be put in place it will take time and it may be necessary to extend agreed deadlines.”

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Italian Bond Yields Rise as Support for Monti Fades

“Italian bonds fell for a second day as former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s political party threatened to stop supporting the government, risking the disintegration of the parliamentary coalition.

The decline pushed the 10-year yield up by the most in more than four months. Prime MinisterMario Monti survived a confidence vote after the head of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party in the Senate said his group wouldn’t put the full weight of its support behind the bill. German bunds advanced for a third day after European Central Bank policy makers left interest ratesunchanged.

“Political risk has clearly increased in Italy today, even though Mr Monti survived,” said Nick Stamenkovic, a fixed- income strategist at RIA Capital Markets Ltd. in Edinburgh. “That’s undermined peripheral bonds, particularly Italy, and given a little bit of support to bunds.”

Italian 10-year yields jumped 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 4.56 percent at 12:51 p.m. London time, after climbing as much as 18 basis points, the most since Aug. 2. The 5.5 percent bond due November 2022 fell 0.89, or 8.90 euros per 1,000-euro ($1,307) face amount, to 107.85. Two-year yields rose 12 basis points to 2.05 percent, after reaching 2.16 percent, the most since Nov. 21….”

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Greece Offers $10 Billion in Dutch Auction for Bonds, First Time Since June

Greece offered 10 billion euros ($13 billion) to buy back bonds issued earlier this year as the bailed-out nation attempts to cut a debt load that may threaten future international aid.

Greek bonds rallied after the so-called modified Dutch auction was announced today by the Athens-based Public Debt Management Agency. PDMA offered an average maximum purchase price for the bonds maturing from 2023 to 2042 of 34.1 percent, based on information in the statement. The offer runs until 5 p.m. London time on Dec. 7.”

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Former ECB Policy Maker: Execution Problems Remain in Lowering Bond Spreads

“Former European Central Bank policy maker Nout Wellink said Spain can’t realistically expect officials to narrow the bond spread with Germany to as little as 200 basis points, as he predicted “execution problems” with the ECB’s bond program.

If Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy envisages “that the maximum difference with the Germans is 200 basis points, then he makes a mistake,” Wellink, the former Netherlands central bank governor who retired from the post in 2011, said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Nov. 30. “Two hundred basis points seems to me too much” to hope for, he said.”

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Global PMI Data Dump For You to Chomp On….Crazy Taste

HEADS UP: The world’s biggest economies will release their November manufacturing PMI reports starting at 7:01 PM EST, and this is our scorecard.

Economists will want to see if the Asian economies are continuing the improvement they saw in last month’s PMI reports. They’ll also want to see if Europe’s manufacturing downturn is continuing to accelerate.

On Friday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics released the country’s official PMI.  The number increased from 50.2 in October to 50.6, which was a bit shy of the 50.8 expected by economists.  However, the internal measures of the report confirm that growth probably bottomed in Q3 and that the economy was accelerating again.

At the beginning of each month, Markit, HSBC, RBC, JP Morgan and several other major data gathering institutions publish the latest local readings of the manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) for countries around the world.

Each reading is based on surveys of hundreds of companies. Read more about it at Markit.

These are not the most closely followed data points.  However, the power of the insights is unparalleled. Jim O’Neill, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, believes the PMI numbers are among the most reliable economic indicators in the world.  BlackRock’s Russ Koesterich thinks it’s one of the most underrated indicators.

Click here to refresh this page for the latest updates to our scorecard > “

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China’s Communist Party Anoints New Leaders

“HONG KONG (CNNMoney) — China’s ruling Communist Party named seven men to its powerful Politburo Standing Committee Thursday in a highly orchestrated ceremony that emphasized party unity and held out little immediate prospect of bolder economic reforms.

The ritual, which took place in Beijing amid heavy security, caps the 18th Communist Party National Congress. The selection of the seven, who can serve for a decade, provides a glimpse into the thinking of party officials and contains hints about government priorities as well as the political machinations behind the choice of China’s next generation of leaders.”

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The Euro Zone Falls Into a Second Recession

“The euro-area economy succumbed to a recession for the second time in four years as governments imposed tougher budget cuts and leaders struggled to contain the debt crisis that broke out in October 2009.

Gross domestic product in the 17-nation bloc slipped 0.1 percent in the third quarter after a 0.2 percent decline in the previous three months, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The result matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg News surveyof 44 economists, as unexpected strength in Germany and France was outweighed by contractions elsewhere.

Europe’s economic malaise is deepening as governments across the region impose budget cuts to narrow their fiscal deficits. Spain and Cyprus this year joined the list of countries seeking external aid, following Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Unions across the region have held protests against austerity measures.”

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Global Business Confidence Hits 2009 Levels

“In spite of positive economic news recently from the US and China, global business sentiment remains subdued. In fact according to Markit, business confidence is at the lowest level since the financial crisis.”

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Italian Economy; Maybe 2014 Then…

Italy’s economy is likely to contract 2.3% this year due to plummeting business investment and private consumption, the European Commission said Wednesday, slashing a February forecast for a more modest 1.3% economic contraction.

The euro-zone’s third-largest economy will also contract next year by around 0.5% before expanding 0.8% in 2014, according to the new projections from the European Union’s executive body.

Italy’s public debt should peak next year at 128% and decline modestly the following year, according to the new projections.

The European Union’s new view suggests that more fiscal austerity lies ahead for Italy. The “structural” budget deficit–adjusted for the business cycle and one-off measures–should decline to 0.4% of gross domestic product next year but rise again to 0.9% of GDP in 2014.

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U.K. Manufacturing Rises Less Than Expected


U.K. manufacturing output gained less than economists forecast in September as machinery and chemical production declined, adding to evidence that the economy’s rebound is losing momentum.

Factory output rose 0.1 percent from August, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median forecast of 30 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for an increase of 0.4 percent. Total industrial output plunged 1.7 percent as oil and gas output dropped by a record due to maintenance of sites.”

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German Factory Orders Fall the Most in a Year


“German factory orders fell the most in a year in September as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and slowing economic growth prompted companies to reduce investment.

Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, slumped 3.3 percent from August, when they dropped a revised 0.8 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. That’s the second straight drop and the biggest since September 2011. Economists forecast a 0.4 percent decline, according to the median of 40 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, orders sank 4.7 percent when adjusted for work days.”

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Bond Analysts See a Continued Bull Market as Every Bond Market is in Rally Mode

“From the U.S. to Germany and even Japan, where the bond market is twice the size of the economy, investors can’t get enough government securities even though rising debt loads are blamed for curbing global growth.

For the first time since the financial crisis in 2008, all 26 markets tracked by Bloomberg and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies are poised to generate positive returns on an annual basis. Gains this year range from Portugal’s 47 percent to Japan’s 1.78 percent.”

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