ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:27 pm

Canada activating “McCarthyism” by theory of “Chinese Infiltration”?




Mr. Fadden was appointed CSIS director in June 2009 after his three year
stint as Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Now he is trying to wake up a slumbering Monster ?

CSIS chief should be accountable for his public remark
----
From Chinese Community in Canada

On the eve of the visit by China’s president Hu Jintao, the head of Canada’s CSIS granted the CBC an unusual interview on June 22.

Richard Fadden proudly disclosed that he is working to catch the politicians (including two provincial cabinet ministers) who are controlled by foreign governments.

Fadden said two politicians of the provincial government and some politicians of municipal governments in British Columbia are working in collusion with foreign governments.

Fadden’s public remark immediately became major national news and it was on the front page of major English newspapers across Canada.

Many people are wondering about the motive behind Fadden’s remark.


Some say it’s to distract the public’s focus on CSIS’ responsibility for the Air India bombing tragedy.

Some surmise that this is Harper’s typical trick, to criticize China’s human rights record and espionage activities. Just a few days ago Harper said he was going to talk about human rights with the visiting China president. Now, we have his intelligence chief talking about “China spies” infiltrating our governments.

Some also wonder whether this is not something cooked up by CBC to embarrass the visiting China president (a source said that Fadden had done the interview some time ago but it was CBC that chose the time to release it).

An interesting point to note is that Fadden only mentioned two provincial ministers and some civic councilors.

He did not say that the federal government was implicated.

Does it mean that the Conservative government really doesn’t have “China spies”?

Or is it Fadden’s policy of “hands off” where his boss is concerned?

No matter what Fadden’s motive was, the content of the revelation itself is an important issue because Fadden’s charge is very serious indeed.

However, not only did he not point out the persons in the provincial and civic governments that were involved, he provided neither facts nor specifics.

More absurdly, he said the espionage activities were conducted legally.

But when several premiers and mayors publicly questioned Fadden’s remark (they said CSIS has never raised such issues with their governments), the CSIS director said he wanted to retract his comment.

This is most unprofessional.

The public are waiting anxiously to see how Prime Minister Harper, who always says he requires a high standard of public conduct from his staff, will handle his intelligence chief.

Harper’s act should give some clues as to whether Fadden was acting merely on his own Initiative, or whether he was just following instructions.

Not only is Fadden’s remark unfair to the provincial and municipal governments who have good relations with China, it’s even more unfair to Chinese-Canadian politicians.

The fact is that when these kinds of “China spies’ activities” are widely reported, the Chinese community and its organizations would all be hurt because their loyalty to Canada is being questioned.

Unless Fadden can provide concrete information about how our politicians are being controlled and what damage has been done to Canada, his words and thinking, reflecting the Cold War mentality, are outdated, especially when we’re referring to China.

First, defence, foreign affairs and immigration are all federal responsibilities, so how could provincial and civic politicians sell off Canada’s interests?

More importantly, Canada and China are friendly countries and China Is not our enemy.

This year witnessed the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In addition, China is Canada’s second largest trading partner. So if politicians actively promote more exchange and trade between the two countries, what’s wrong with that?

Like what MLA Jenny Kwan said to the English media, today’s China is a major economic force in the world. As an elected official who holds the portfolio of economic development, what’s wrong with her actively promoting cultural and economic exchanges with China?

As regards technology, China is no longer a poor and backward country.

Today, the world’s most advanced computers, cellphones, etc. are mostly produced in China.

For those who pay attention to China, the country has the world’s fastest train system and some of the most advance alternative energy technologies.

The decision to transfer these technologies is not made by politicians; it is a business decision.

Otherwise, how can the price of the most advanced iPhone 4 be merely US$299 a piece?

Fadden’s tactic is similar to that of the former bureau chief of CSIS, Michel Juneau-Katsuya.

Last year, the former CSIS bureau chief of the Asia Pacific department released a book portraying the Chinese community and community organizations are nests of China spies.

The writer was smart enough not to cite any names in his book to avoid legal ramification. However, the author and the publisher of the book were sued by Canada Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA) for libel.

When the writer cannot substantiate his remark, the writer and publisher have to retract the book from the shelves and pay for court damages.

And for the English newspapers which published excerpts of the book, they have publicly apologized and paid for damages to the community organization.

Just think about this: for a former CSIS bureau chief to make up an allegation and spread damaging “China spy” accusations, isn’t that completely unprofessional and unacceptable?

Similarly, Fadden should be held accountable to the Canadian public for his public remark.


=========================================

Canadian spy boss Fadden conjure monsters in the dark
----From A Canadian politician

Richard Fadden probably didn’t intend to invoke fears of a McCarthyite witch hunt, but he’s done a fine job of it nonetheless.

In three appearances – a speech earlier this year, a subsequent television interview and before a parliamentary committee this week – the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has painted a picture of murky foreign powers – that would be China, in case you can’t read between the lines – manipulating provincial cabinet ministers and municipal politicians for nefarious ends.

He will name them within a month – to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, but not to us.

Mr. Fadden didn’t actually wave a sheet of paper claiming to have the names of traitors within the government, as the Wisconsin senator famously did 60 years ago in the speech that launched McCarthyism.

But the combination of paranoid secrecy that infects this government and the inadvertent candour of the CSIS director have succeeded in tarring hundreds of politicians across Canada.

Who is alleged to be under the sway of a foreign power? How credible are those allegations? How, if at all, has the public agenda been influenced?

We may never know. Unless criminal charges are laid, the government is unlikely to divulge the names of the suspects, citing national security. (The fear of lawsuits from anyone named would also serve as an incentive.)

So everyone’s a suspect, and will remain one, while all of us wonder just how far CSIS is going in investigating elected officials.

The idea that “the law enforcement branch of the government is tailing and following the activities of political figures certainly hearkens back to the McCarthy era,” human-rights lawyer Paul Champ says.

Mr. Champ is representing The Canadian Press news agency in a court case that reveals the depth of the government’s obsession with keeping secrets. Reporter Jim Bronskill has been trying for years to obtain the full security file on former NDP leader Tommy Douglas, who died in 1986.

The National Archives, on the advice of CSIS, backed by interim information commissioner Suzanne Legault, refuses to release the file, citing national security. Confidential informants may be involved and their identities must be protected, even if they’re dead.

Among the materials disclosed as part of the legal battle over the Tommy Douglas files is a “dead list” of figures who might have had security files on them, but who have been dead more than 20 years, in which case the files can be released unless there are other considerations – national security being the prime one.

John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson are on the list. Mr. Champ cautions that this does not mean the RCMP, in the years before CSIS was created, spied on the former prime ministers; they might simply have been associated with people the police were investigating.

But the relentless determination of the government and the security apparatus not to reveal their workings – and let us not forget the lengths to which this government has gone to protect documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees – means that when a corner of the tarp is inadvertently lifted – say because the CSIS director became too chatty – we imagine any number of monsters in the darkness within.

There is no good resolution to the imbroglio Mr. Fadden has created. Politicians, especially those whose business brings them into contact with foreign representatives, will just have to learn to live with the cloud.

I am beginning to wonder whether that lunch I had with Chinese embassy officials in the spring was such a good idea.

_________________
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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:35 pm

Cameron takes commercial approach to foreign policy
By Andrew Grice in Washington

Businessmen could be recruited as British ambassadors abroad under a shake-up of the Foreign Office to put diplomats in the front line of winning orders for UK firms and inward investment in this country.

David Cameron has ordered a revamp of the Foreign Office as Labour's much-mocked "ethical" foreign policy gives way to a commercial approach.

The change will be symbolised today when Simon Fraser, a former close adviser to Lord Mandelson and currently the top civil servant at the Department for Business, is appointed Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office and head of the diplomatic service. Traditionally, the coveted post goes to a career diplomat.

Mr Fraser is a trade expert and was chief of staff to Lord Mandelson when he was Europe's trade commissioner, before the peer brought him back to Britain to head the business department. His appointment may not be met with joy by the French government, with whom he clashed in Brussels.

He succeeds Sir Peter Ricketts, who has become Mr Cameron's national security adviser. The Foreign Office will also appoint a commercial director for the first time as it gears up to divert its energies to helping British firms. Businessmen will be encouraged to apply for ambassadors' posts in a move that will put some Foreign Office noses out of joint.

There will also be concerns that the Foreign Office is being asked to take on a new role when it will have to cut its budget by 25 per cent over the next four years, under Treasury plans to reduce the £155bn deficit. Ministers insist all departments must do more for less.

Speaking to journalists as he travelled by train from Washington to New York yesterday, Mr Cameron said: "I want to re-fashion British foreign policy to make it more focused on the commercial aspect. We need to demonstrate that Britain is open for business.

"As we move out of recession and into recovery, we need to make sure we pay our way in the world... I want us to be much more effective at winning orders for Britain."

The Prime Minister said that in every meeting with a foreign counterpart, British ministers and officials must be armed with a clear list of commercial priorities, so they can win contracts and oil the wheels for bilateral and multilateral trade deals.

Earlier, the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the Arlington War Memorial in Washington. But not everything went according to plan, as he described Britain as the "junior partner" of the US in fighting Nazi Germany in 1940, even though America did not join the Second World War until a year later. Downing Street insisted his comments were not intended to belittle the Britain's troops at a time when the UK and its empire stood alone against the Nazis. "He was referring to the current relationship between the UK and US," said a spokeswoman.

Mr Cameron also had to fend off criticism for sending "mixed messages" over the exit strategy for Afghanistan, after he raised the prospect of British troops starting to withdraw as early as next year. That put him in line with President Barack Obama, who has said that US forces will start to come home from July next year.

Nick Clegg, standing in for Mr Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, said: "No timetable can be chiselled in stone but we are absolutely determined, given how long we have been in Afghanistan ... that we must be out of a combat role by 2015."

Like Mr Obama, Mr Cameron wants to reassure a domestic audience that the operation in Afghanistan is not open-ended. But service chiefs are anxious about setting apparent timetables for an exit strategy. The former head of the Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, said he was "wary" about setting dates, and a plan to transfer power to Afghan security forces "does not equal reality".

The Prime Minister insisted there was no contradiction between saying the withdrawal would be "conditions-based" and that it would be completed by 2015, as he said last month. "We have said that in 2015 there are not going to be ... large numbers of British troops in Afghanistan."

Speaking in New York last night to a dinner hosted by the city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and attended by businessmen including the media magnate Rupert Murdoch, the Prime Minister said his three economic priorities were a lower deficit, freer trade and responsible business.

The dinner was the second meal Mr Cameron shared with Mr Bloomberg after the pair ate hot dogs in the street outside Penn Station in Manhattan. Perhaps in the spirit of austerity, Mr Cameron took his $2 dish, paid for by the Mayor, without onions or mustard.

Admitting his differences with President Barack Obama on the speed of deficit reduction, Mr Cameron said the dollar was a reserve currency "so he doesn't have to hurry in the way that I do". He added: "If we don't sort out our public finances, we can't be a dependable trading partner. Our companies won't be serious prospects for investment; our inflation and interest rates [will be] high; the debt burden on our children greater still. We have to make cuts. And we have to make them now."

Yesterday Mr Cameron also held a separate discussion with a group of leading Wall Street bankers about financial regulation, at which he pressed London's claims as a financial hub.

* Two British soldiers were shot dead in Afghanistan yesterday while trying to rescue a comrade, the Ministry of Defence said. The soldiers, one from The Royal Dragoon Guards and the other from 1st Battalion Scots Guards, were killed by small arms fire. Their families have been told.

_________________
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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:39 pm

Obama Signs US Financial Reform into Law

President Barack Obama has signed legislation to reform the business practices of U.S. financial institutions. Passing the bill was one of the administration's major priorities.

President Obama says the new regulations on major financial firms will protect consumers and prevent the abuses that many analysts say led to the global economic recession.

"Reform will also rein in the abuse and excess that nearly brought down our financial system," said President Obama. "It will finally bring transparency to the kinds of complex and risky transactions that helped trigger the financial crisis."

The new laws are the broadest reform of the U.S. financial industry since the Great Depression of 1930s. Before he signed it, the president said the overhaul will have global implications.

"That is why we all stand to gain from these reforms," said Mr. Obama. "We all win when investors around the world have confidence in our markets."

The law will allow the government to take over failing financial institutions, if they are so big that their collapse would damage the U.S. economy. The government would then sell the properties to ensure that taxpayers do not bear the cost of the failure.

_________________
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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:45 pm

US Restores Ties With Notorious Indonesian Military Unit

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced Thursday the U.S. will resume military cooperation with Indonesia's special forces. The United States had suspended military ties with the unit in 1999 for alleged involvement in human rights abuses.

In his second visit to Indonesia as defense secretary, Gates said the Indonesian army, known as TNI, has made significant progress in addressing human rights issues. Following talks in Jakarta with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Gates announced the resumption of military cooperation between the United States and Kopassus, the controversial Indonesian Army Special Forces.

"I told the president that as a result of these significant steps and the other reforms that the TNI has undertaken, the United States will begin a measured and gradual program of security cooperation activities with the Indonesian Army Special Forces, Kopassus," Gates said.

Indonesia's special forces were accused of major abuses through the 1990s in the provinces of Papua and Aceh and the former Indonesian province of East Timor, which has since become independent. The U.S. cut ties with the special forces under a 1997 law, which banned U.S. training of foreign military units accused of human rights violations. The ban can be lifted if there have been substantial measures to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Indonesia has not yet passed that test, said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, adding that Kopassus is still involved in human rights abuses.

"We reported last year about abuses by Kopassus in parts of Papua. The recently promoted deputy commander is someone we have concerns about," Robertson said. "So, we are very concerned about the ongoing role and record of this unit, Kopassus, and feel that they really have to go under a microscope to ensure that any training for Kopassus would be given only to persons who have not been credibly linked to human rights abuses in the past."

Robertson said independent investigations into human rights abuses and the prosecution of those involved in past crimes should be required before military cooperation is resumed.

But Secretary Gates made the case for engaging with the Indonesian military, arguing that closer ties will further the cause of human rights.

"I think the questions boil down to, how do you best further advance human rights? And my view is that, particularly if people are making an effort to make progress that recognizes that effort, and working with them further will produce greater gains in human rights for people than standing back and shouting at people."

The defense secretary also said the military cooperation will take place within the limits of U.S. law and that any Kopassus member linked to past human rights abuses will be excluded from any joint activities.

_________________
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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:48 pm

US Banks Wait, Watch for Financial Reform Impact

The new financial reform legislation signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama has the attention of executives at many of the country's biggest banks, worried about the potential impact the changes will have on their profits.

Many of the top banks have repaid the government for bailout loans given during the financial crisis, and are reporting profits.

On Wednesday, Wells Fargo bank reported more than $3 billion in profits for the three months ending in June. Wells Fargo's second-quarter profits were lower than those it earned during the second quarter of last year, but bank officials said losses on bad loans to consumers and businesses have decreased.

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday reported nearly $2 billion in second-quarter profits due to strong trading results. Other top U.S. banks have warned that investors have been less active, rattled by fears of a European debt crisis and volatility in the financial markets.

U.S. Bancorp also reported second-quarter profits, saying revenue jumped 63 percent compared to the same time last year. U.S. Bancorp also said it increased its lending activity and that it expects fewer customers to default on their loans.

Following the financial crisis, many businesses and consumers were unable to get loans, hurting the country's economic production.

_________________
ท้องทะเลและมหาสมุทร ไม่เคยปราศจากคลื่นฉันใด
มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:20 am

Opposition group says Iran sanctions ineffective, urges oil and finance bans

BRUSSELS - An Iranian opposition group says U.N. sanctions will not stop Iran's government from pursing alleged plans to develop nuclear weapons.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran is urging the EU to cripple Iran's economy by implementing sweeping embargoes on the Iranian Central Bank and by banning all purchases of Iranian oil and gas.
Spokesman Shahin Gobadi says "the time has come for a firm policy on every aspect."

The call comes ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, where the bloc is set to adopt sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard and a number of companies allegedly involved in the nuclear program.

In June, the U.N. adopted a set of sanctions restricting trade on all items related to Iran's enrichment of uranium.

_________________
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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:56 pm

EU's China worries


European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Thursday European companies were increasingly worried about doing business in China.

De Gucht said procurement policies in particular must become more open and transparent, and that Beijing's "indigenous innovation" policy must not freeze European firms out of the information technology and clean energy sectors.

China was the source of 64 percent of all counterfeit goods seized at EU borders last year, a EU report said Thursday.

Source: Global Times

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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

sunny

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:56 pm

Obama: 'Enormous' Progress With Financial Reform, Other Actions
Dan Robinson | White House

President Barack Obama took time at the end of a busy week Friday to cite what he says is enormous progress in repairing the U.S. economy. The president faces ongoing criticism of his policies from opposition Republicans.

The most significant legislative accomplishment for the president and majority Democrats since the historic health care overhaul achieved earlier this year, is the financial regulatory reform bill Mr. Obama signed on Thursday.

It is the outcome of almost two years of intense debate on Capitol Hill concerning the best ways to respond to excesses on Wall Street, protect consumers, and avoid another financial system collapse.

Speaking in the White House Roosevelt Room, the president said the new law will protect consumers and the economy from recklessness and irresponsibility that led to the worst financial breakdown since the Great Depression.

"It's a reform that will help us put a stop to the abusive practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies and ensure that people get the straight, unvarnished information that they need before they take out a loan or open a credit card," he said. "It will bring the shadowy deals that caused the financial crisis into the light of day, and it will end taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street firms and give shareholders a say on executive compensation."

To underscore his points, the president referred to a new report by Ken Feinberg, who Mr. Obama appointed to oversee compensation issues. The report said 17 banks gave top executives $1.6 billion in bonuses while they were receiving billions of dollars in government bailout funds.

The president pointed to two other achievements - a six-month extension of emergency government benefits for people out of work, and an initiative to reduce waste in government.

Mr. Obama pressed for Senate action on another piece of legislation; tax incentives and lending for small businesses. And he sounded a theme he will use as he campaigns for Democratic candidates before the November mid-term congressional elections.

"The folks who I have met with across this country, they cannot afford any more political games," he said. "They need us to do what they sent us here to do. They didn't send us here to wage a never-ending campaign; they didn't send us here to do what is best for our political party. They sent us here to do what is best for the United States of America and all our citizens, whether Democrats or Republicans or Independents. In other words, they sent us here to govern."

As the president spotlights achievements, Republicans continue to criticize him on virtually every one of his policies. Indiana Republican Mike Pence asserted that President Obama's policies and those of Democrats will lead to huge tax increases.

"As we have done on their failed stimulus policy, as we have did on their national energy tax, as we did on their government take over of health care, House Republicans will stand in the gap to protect taxpayers from the largest tax increase in American history," he said.

Democratic leaders meanwhile cited Republican opposition as they acknowledged they had given up on passing comprehensive clean energy/climate change legislation before the August recess.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said "Unfortunately this time we don't have a single Republican to work with in achieving this goal," Reid said. "For me, it is terribly disappointing."

"We will continue to work with the senators to craft important, comprehensive legislation," said Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office on Energy and Climate Change Policy.

Having accomplished the bulk of the pre-congressional recess agenda, the president will increasingly focus on the November congressional elections, campaigning for Democrats and pressing his messages about economic recovery.

The White House announced he will travel to New Jersey next week, a state that remains strongly Democratic. The unemployment rate there is about 9.6 percent, slightly more than the national level.

Also announced, presidential visits next week and in early August to Chrysler, General Motors and Ford automobile plants in Michigan and Chicago, Illinois. The White House says these will highlight a U.S. auto industry that is strengthening as a result of the president's actions to save it

_________________
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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:57 pm

US Banks Criticized For Paying Lavish Compensation
Elizabeth Lee | Washington

The US official tasked with overseeing pay practices at the country's large financial institutions has criticized 17 banks for over compensating their executives during the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. But the banks say there are reasons why they paid employees big bonuses.

Kenneth Feinberg, charged with reviewing the pay practices of large U.S. financial institutions, found that 17 banks made a total of $1.6 billion in payments to their top executives after receiving emergency loans from the government.

Feinberg, the Obama Administration's special master for executive compensation, looked at more than 400 banks. "At the time these payments were made they were ill advised - bad judgment on the part of these companies, but they didn't violate any statute. They didn't violate any regulation at the time," he said.

But many Americans say they are outraged that executives were getting big bonuses while taxpayer dollars were keeping the firms alive. "The taxpayer has the right to be outraged," said Feinberg. "Who wouldn't be?"

Damon Silvers represents the US labor federation, the AFL-CIO. "When a firm is in trouble especially a financial firm, cash is the whole deal. Paying out lots of cash, unless you really have to, is not in the interest of the firm and is not in the interest of the public," he said.

Scott Talbott is spokesman for Financial Services Round Table. The organization represents 100 of the largest financial services firms in the U.S. "You have to provide incentives for employees to work hard. And yes, the pay structure for Wall Street vs. the rest of America looks a bit out of wack. But this is a select group of people that can handle or process or engage in these types of activity," he said.

Talbott says special compensations to bank employees were all authorized by third-parties ahead of time. "They're all approved by the shareholders as well as the independent compensation committees in each one of the companies," he said.

Feinberg does not have the authority to force the banks to return any of the money. He says 11 of the 17 companies have already re-paid their government loans with interest. He is encouraging banks to adopt new rules to limit payments to top executives in future crises.

President Barack Obama says the lavish bonuses to bank executives show the need for the financial reforms he signed into law earlier this week.

He says the reforms will eliminate the need for future taxpayer bailouts of financial firms

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:35 pm

Focus shifts to EU banks to scrape test pass




By Steve Slater and Edward Taylor
LONDON/FRANKFURT

(Reuters) - So few banks failed Europe's long-awaited stress tests on Friday that investors will likely focus instead on the dozen or so banks that just scraped through when markets reopen next week.

Seven banks failed the unprecedented test of Europe's banking system -- including five small regional Spanish lenders -- and need to plug a much smaller-than-expected combined capital shortfall of 3.5 billion euros ($4.5 billion).

But the health check on 91 banks in 20 countries was criticized as being too soft. It was also overshadowed somewhat by a slew of data on European economies that suggested the banks may face less pressure and loan defaults than earlier thought.

That leaves investors to make up their own minds about particular banks, armed with the extra data the tests provided, including on sovereign bond holdings, to judge where further weak spots may be.

"With so few banks failing, investors will question whether the economic scenarios are sufficiently severe," said Jon Peace, analyst at Nomura in London.

"It will be natural for investors to consider the margin by which banks passed," he added, citing a good pass margin for Scandinavian and British banks, but Greek, Spanish and Italian banks faring less well.

Banks were tested on how they would withstand another recession in the next two years, including some losses on government bonds. They failed if their Tier 1 capital ratio dropped below 6 percent.
There were 17 banks whose ratio fell to between 6 percent and 7 percent.

They included Deutsche Postbank, Greece's Piraeus Bank, Allied Irish Banks, Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena and UBI Banca, Spain's Bankinter and eight smaller Spanish banks.

WEAK LINKS

Even in the hours before the results w ere released National Bank of Greece, Slovenia's NLB and Civica in Spain all announced plans to raise capital.

Piraeus has already hired three investment banks to underwrite a capital increase of more than 1 billion euros, a Greek newspaper said on Saturday, although much of that may go on the acquisition of state stakes in two other Greek banks.

Postbank, Germany's largest retail bank by clients, identified its own capital shortfall months ago. The Bonn-based lender last year took drastic measures to improve capital, including scrapping its dividend, cutting staff and shrinking assets. It said it will continue with the overhaul.

Franz-Christoph Zeitler, Bundesbank's vice president, said: "In the regulators' view no other German bank (other than Hypo Real Estate) needs further capital as the level of 6 percent is clearly above the regulatory minimum, but the markets could see that differently."

Italy's smaller banks will also come under scrutiny.

"As we expected, bigger banks have higher capital ratios, while the market will probably say that banks such as Monte dei Paschi and Banco Popolare still lack adequate ratios," said Centrosim analyst Luca Comi.

ACCESS TO FUNDING?

A main aim of the test was to open up funding markets for banks who have been shut out in recent months. Those still deemed too risky could still have problems unless they raise more capital.

"This isn't necessarily the last word, and if funding costs do not improve for some banks then we would not be surprised to see additional stress tests by some national central banks in the future," Nomura's Peace said.

Europe's so-called "stress tests" were never expected to show massive capital shortfalls, as its banks have also already raised about 300 billion euros since the start of the crisis. That includes about 170 billion euros of government support to 34 banks.

Just as investors take a view when markets reopen on Monday, Central bank governors and heads of supervision will meet in Switzerland to review proposed capital reforms, and the resilience shown by Europe's banks could make it harder for them to argue they cannot implement tough new rules.

"The banks are ready to start implementing the new rules which are necessary to reinforce the capital provision and liquidity management of the banks," Vitor Constancio, ECB Vice President, told Reuters Insider after Friday's results.

(Additional reporting by Philipp Halstrick, Huw Jones, Antonella Ciancio and Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Patrick Graham)


แก้ไขล่าสุดโดย sunny เมื่อ Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:41 pm, ทั้งหมด 1 ครั้ง

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:40 pm

Russia plans $29 billion asset sale - ministry sources

By Dasha Korsunskaya
MOSCOW

(Reuters) - Russia plans its biggest sell-off of state assets since the early 1990s as it seeks to raise over $29 billion to plug budget gaps over the next three years, finance ministry sources told Reuters on Saturday.

The sources told Reuters the plan to sell minority stakes in 10 major companies in 2011-2013 had been discussed and approved at a preliminary meeting chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The sales would include 27.1 percent in state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft (TRNF_p.RTS), 24.16 percent of Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM), 24.5 percent of Russia's No.2 bank VTB (VTBR.MM), 9.3 percent of largest lender Sberbank (SBER03.MM), 25 percent minus one share of rail monopoly RZhD.

Russia wants to cut its budget deficit to 4 percent of GDP in 2011 and 2.9 percent in 2012 from around 5 percent -- or $80 billion -- this year, but a presidential election in 2012 also puts pressure on the government to keep social spending high.

"The finance ministry has made proposals on possible privatizations in 2011-2013, which will allow (us) to collect some 300 billion roubles ($9.88 billion) a year," one of the sources told Reuters.

"The biggest companies will be up for sale in such a way that the government keeps controlling stakes," he added.

"The proposals were reviewed and judged realistic," he said.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment.

The proposals see Russia reducing its stakes in most of the companies to 50 percent plus one share, which allows the government to still exercise full control over the decision-making process.

Other firms on the list include 28.11 percent of power grid FSK (FEES.MM), 9.38 percent in hydro power generator RusHydro (HYDR.MM), 49 percent in mortgage agency AIZhK, 49 percent in agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank and 25 percent minus one share in shipping major SovComFlot.

BILLIONS MORE

Reuters calculations showed that sales of stakes in only six listed firms from the list could generate over $30 billion and if combined with unlisted majors such as RZhD and SovComFlot the privatizations could yield billions of dollars more.

Russia's first wave of chaotic privatizations in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin resulted in major state oil and metals assets being sold for cheap to a group of well-connected businessmen, known in Russia as the oligarchs.

Putin, who was Russia's President between 2000 and 2008, has repeatedly criticized the sales and brought some of the assets back under state control, including through the bankruptcy of oil major YUKOS, whose oil fields were sold mostly to Rosneft at state-forced auctions.

A second source said the stake sale in rail monopoly RZhD was likely to happen later than other privatizations as the company was undergoing substantial restructuring. The sale of the stake in the mortgage agency is also unlikely to happen in the near future, he said.

(Reporting by Dasha Korsunskaya, writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Patrick Graham)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:44 pm

Russia, U.S. to cooperate in emergencies

Russia and the United States on Friday signed a statement that outlined key areas of cooperation over the next few years in line with the objectives set by the two countries' presidents.

The U.S.-Russian bilateral presidential commission's working group on cooperation in preventing and handling emergency situations is headed by Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency of U.S. Department of Homeland Security Craig Fugate.

"This is the first meeting between Russian and U.S. chief emergencies officials under the presidential program," said Yury Brazhnikov, a representative from the Russian emergencies ministry.

Among cooperative areas are joint assessment of food security and preparedness for emergencies in Central Asia, joint humanitarian response drills in third countries and exchange of specialists and information between Russian and U.S. humanitarian aid agencies.

One of the immediate joint projects is providing aid to Kyrgyz population, Brazhnikov said.

"We are conducting a humanitarian aid mission in Kyrgyzstan and have now started working under the guidance of the United Nations. We will also try the experience of our cooperation with the U.S.," he said as quoted by news agencies.

Source:Xinhua

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:53 am

Analysis: New safe-haven currencies shine amid debt fears

By Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK

(Reuters) - Investors' love affair with the "other" currencies may be just beginning.
The Canadian dollar, Australian dollar and Swedish crown are gaining in popularity as investors increasingly look for alternatives amid troubling outlooks for the United States, euro zone and Japan.

Global reserve managers are leading the trend. In the first quarter, central banks who report their reserves added a record $24.5 billion of "other" currencies to their portfolios, Nomura data show.

The share of reserves in "other" currencies stood at 3.7 percent in the first quarter, up from 1.5 percent at the beginning of this decade. It's generally believed this category includes currencies of Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden and New Zealand.

Jens Nordvig, head of G10 foreign-exchange strategy at Nomura in New York, said the growing inflows into what he called the "new safe havens" are set to continue as central banks rethink their allocations, a development that could boost these currencies in the years ahead.

"It's going to be a massive amount of money that potentially comes in, and there could be a very big impact on these currencies even if it's a relatively moderate amount of central bank portfolios," he said.

Such demand may have already helped cushion the impact on some of these currencies from the recent global turbulence.

The Canadian dollar, for example, has shown resilience in recent months despite a rout in commodity prices and stocks worldwide on economic worries.

Since mid-April, the MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS has fallen 10 percent, while oil prices have lost 8 percent. During the same period, the loonie lost only 2.6 percent versus the U.S. dollar, going as low as C$1.0851. After the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008, the loonie fell as low as C$1.3017, according to Reuters data.

"The Canadian dollar is a currency you want to own," said David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at money management firm Gluskin Sheff in Toronto. "Canada has basically been re-rated coming out of the credit crisis as a bastion of stability in an increasingly unstable world."

As a percentage of GDP, Canada's general government net debt is estimated at 32 percent for 2010, the lowest among the Group of Seven economies.

In contrast, Japan has the highest net debt at 122 percent and the United States is at 66 percent, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

A LIMIT TO THIS 'LOVE AFFAIR'

Currencies of smaller G10 economies tend to have better liquidity and track records of inflation than emerging market currencies, making them good candidates as safe havens.

Their healthier fiscal outlook also makes them appealing as investors increasingly discriminate between currencies with strong sovereign balance sheets and weaker ones.

To be sure, there's a limit on how much reserve managers can invest in the "other" currencies because of the smaller size of these countries' domestic bond markets.

The size of Canada's and Australia's domestic government debt markets are $905.5 billion and $228 billion, respectively. In comparison, the U.S. domestic government debt market totaled $9.5 trillion, the second largest after Japan's local market with $9.7 trillion, Bank for International Settlements data show.

Emma Lawson, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley, said 1 percent of all global reserves would account for 74 percent of the local Australian sovereign debt market and "there isn't the scope for any more."

The Canadian market is "only slightly larger," she said, with 1 percent of global reserves taking up to 30 percent of the local market, and if it increased to 3 percent, this would account for 81 percent and would be "arguably too high."

"For long-term holders like central banks, these commodities currencies provide good diversification and to some extent, one could call it gaining safe-haven status," said Matthew Strauss, senior currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto. "But given their liquidity is far, far less than the majors, they can never serve as full-fledged safe-haven currencies."

Strauss also said while the Canadian and Australian dollars provide a relatively safe store of value over the long term, they "do remain cyclical currencies as well, given their commodity status," which means they tend to fluctuate more than the major currencies.

Still, debate over the dollar's role in the global economy continues.

Talk of more stimulus money and the possibility of a double-dip recession could lead to escalating worries about the swelling U.S. deficits.

Jerome Booth, head of research at Ashmore Investment Management in London, said investors "should never equate the dollar with risk-free." Booth added that the argument that the U.S. Treasury market is the most liquid in the world may not hold true if a few central banks started selling.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:48 pm

Former colonizer France agrees to help Vietnam modernize its military

HANOI, Vietnam - The French defence minister has agreed to help Vietnam modernize its military on a historic visit to the former colony, state media reported Tuesday.

Vietnam recently bought radar, helicopters and transport aircraft from France, according to French Defence Minister Herve Morin, as the Southeast Asian country gradually tries to upgrade its antiquated armed forces.

"There is a strong demand from Vietnam for France's active participation in the modernization of its army," Morin was quoted by online newspaper VietnamNet as saying. "France is willing to meet all demands by Vietnam."

Morin's visit Monday marked the first time a French defence minister travelled to the country since Vietnam's 1954 surprise defeat at Dien Bien Phu, which led to the surrender and withdrawal of French forces.

The countries also discussed co-operation between their navies, armies and air forces, and France will soon organize training courses for Vietnamese military officers, Morin said.

Before the recent order from France, Russia, the country's former communist ally, had been Vietnam's main supplier of armaments. In December, Vietnam ordered six Kilo submarines and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighter jets from Moscow.

In recent years, Vietnam has developed closer military ties with another former foe, the United States, including exchanging defence minister visits, welcoming U.S. Navy ships and participating in military-to-military training . The Vietnam War ended in 1975 when northern Communist forces seized the U.S.-backed capital of former South Vietnam, reunifying the country.

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:09 pm

China says it opposes EU sanctions against Iran over nuclear issue

BEIJING, China - China said Friday that it opposes the sanctions the European Union is imposing on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, saying it supports Iran's renewed efforts to hold talks on a possible swap of nuclear fuel.

China often says dialogue and diplomatic means are the best way to resolve the Iran nuclear issue, and a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, Jiang Yu, repeated that position in comments posted on the ministry's website.

The European Union and Canada adopted new sanctions Monday against Iran that target its foreign trade, banking and energy sectors.

The countries worry Iran's nuclear program could be used for weapons. Iran denies it, saying its program is intended solely for peaceful purposes such as energy generation.

"China does not agree with the EU's unilateral sanctions against Iran," Jiang said. China made a similar objection when the United States recently imposed its own sanctions.

The U.S. and others continue to pressure China for a stronger stance against Iran. China has vast energy needs and has large investments in Iran, and its position as a permanent member of the Security Council can challenge further U.N. pressure on the issue.

Senior U.S. officials said Thursday that they would travel soon to China, Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates to demand compliance with a new, fourth round of U.N. Security Council measures against Iran.

Tehran has tried to deflect further sanctions by offering to talk about the nuclear issue.

This week, Tehran's senior envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, told reporters that "Iran is ready to go back to the negotiating table" quickly to discuss exchanging some of its enriched uranium for fuel rods for Tehran's nuclear reactor.

No details of Iran's offer were available. But under a similar deal in May with Brazil and Turkey, Iran agreed to ship about 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, Iran would get fuel rods made from 20 per cent enriched uranium.

That level of enrichment is high enough for use in research reactors but too low for nuclear weapons.
In her statement Friday, Jiang said China welcomes Iran's latest offer to talk about a possible fuel swap.

"This is conducive to promoting the process of resolving the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations," she said.

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:35 am

New doubts on recovery as US economy falters
By David Prosser, Business Editor

The pace of the recovery of the world's largest economy slowed markedly during the second quarter of the year, official data revealed yesterday, prompting further anxiety about the global financial outlook.

The Department of Commerce said that US gross domestic product rose by 2.4 per cent on an annualised basis over the three months to the end of June, down from 3.7 per cent during the first quarter.

The data disappointed investors, who had been expecting a figure of 2.6 per cent or higher, with shares falling across Western stock markets in the hours following the release of the data.

To add to the gloom, the Department of Commerce also revised previously released data to show that the US recession, which lasted from the end of 2007 to the middle of last year, had been worse than previously thought, with the economy contracting by 4.1 per cent during the downturn rather than the initial estimate of 3.7 per cent.

However, economists professed themselves more worried about the future, particularly with the latest consumer confidence survey yesterday from the University of Michigan, a keenly watched indicator, suggesting that Americans are now more gloomy about the prospects for the economy than at any time this year.

Nigel Gault, the chief US economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The economy entered the second quarter with plenty of momentum, but exited with very little – we expect that growth in the third quarter will be slower."

Christine Romer, an economic adviser to the White House, also warned that America's economy needed to do better. "This solid rate of growth indicates that the process of steady recovery from the recession continues," she said. "Nevertheless, faster growth is needed to bring about substantial reductions in unemployment."

In practice, the latest GDP data was very mixed, with the positive effect of better business investment and some limited improvements from the real estate sector undermined by restrained consumer spending and a poor export performance.

The figures reinforced the warning last week from Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, who unnerved world markets by telling Congress that the outlook for the US economy was "unusually uncertain".

Mr Bernanke also said that the Fed would intervene if it believed doing so was necessary to keep the recovery on the road. James Bullard, the president of the St Louis Federal Reserve, went further on Thursday, calling for a new round of quantitative easing in the US.

In addition to monetary policy initiatives, pressure is mounting on the US government to do more, with the International Monetary Fund warning yesterday that President Barack Obama may soon have to consider an increase in the stimulus spending he has already embarked upon in order to boost the recovery.

"Looking ahead, risks are elevated and tilted to the downside (as clear from the most recent batch of economic indicators), with particular risks from a double dip in the housing market and spillovers if external financial conditions worsen," the IMF warned.

"With recovery still dependent on policy support, rising downside risks, and substantial long-term fiscal and financial sector challenges, further decisive action is needed to achieve stable medium-term growth and limit risks of adverse international spillovers."

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:14 pm

Britain's banks bounce back

High-street giants are back in profit and over the worst, but can they lend enough to drive the UK out of recession? Deirdre Hipwell reports

Britain's five biggest banks are forecast to report bumper half-year profits totalling more than £12bn this week, just a year after the sector was reeling from multi-billion-pound losses.

Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered are expected to unveil healthy first-half pre-tax profits, largely driven by the easing of impairment charges, the cost to the bank of its bad loans.

However, the performance of the banks' different operating divisions will be mixed with trading revenues which in investment banking likely to disappoint the market, and raise concerns about the sector's underlying growth prospects.

A sharp eye will also be cast over new gross lending figures in the wake of Bank of England governor Mervyn King's stated "heartbreak" at how small UK businesses are being pushed to the wall by banks' tough terms, or their refusal to lend. The banks are likely to defend themselves against criticism with claims that they are preserving capital and setting aside funds to cover potential future losses rather than lending on uncommercial terms.

Gary Jenkins, banking analyst at Evolution Securities, said: "Some of the trading business line volumes will be down but it is more than offset by the reduction in bad debts. Banks are much of a muchness and if it is good for one it is good for all. It just shows how quickly things can turn around in the market. It is nothing like as bad as we had feared this time a year ago. The big question going forward is, in a year's time, will this bad debt provision remain on a downward trend? You hope volumes will pick up because, if not, the market has a problem."

Of the two banks – RBS and Lloyds – which have biggest government ownership interests, Lloyds will be the best performer. It is expected to report a pre-tax profit of £800m, which stands in stark contrast to its £4bn pre-tax first-half loss in 2009. It also remains on track to meet its targeted full-year 2 per cent net interest margin – a measure which banks use to gauge profitability. And with the share price closing on Friday at 69.26p, the Government and the UK taxpayer, which hold a 41 per cent stake, are sitting on a paper profit of around £1.9bn.

After a first-quarter operating profit this year, some analysts are expecting RBS, where the taxpayer has an 83 per cent economic interest, to remain in the black. Morgan Stanley analysts forecast results improving to a £420m pre-tax profit off the back of lower impairment charges and lower credit market losses. RBS results are also likely to be boosted by the imminent conclusion of a £1.75bn sale of 318 of its branches to the Spanish Banco Santander. However, RBS chief executive Stephen Hester has already warned that he expects RBS to report a loss for the full year.

With some US investment banks reporting a drop in second-half profits the market will look first to the performance of Barclays investment arm BarCap when it reports its figures on Thursday. BarCap has already said it had experienced weaker trading conditions in May and June. Barclays Corporate – one of the three divisions of the group – is also expected to report higher impairments with provisions against falling Spanish property values.

Barclays is expected to disclose a pre-tax profit of about £3.5bn, beating its 2009 first-half £2.75bn profit before tax. However, the £3.5bn figure will be helped by a gain of between £350m and £924m on the bank's own credit which, if excluded, means the first-half pre-tax profit is nearer to the £2.97bn mark. Its core tier one capital level is not expected to have significantly changed from the 9.8 per cent recorded at 31 March 2010 while it expects overall impairment in 2010 to improve between 15 and 20 per cent on 2009.

HSBC, reporting tomorrow, is expecting to post another strong half-year performance with an estimated pre-tax profit of $8.6bn, which is well ahead of $5bn pre-tax profit during the same period in 2009. The focus is likely to be on the bank's continued strong performance in emerging markets across Asia and a continued rebalancing of its business in a way which tracks trade-flow growth.

Another Asian-focused bank, Standard Chartered, whose biggest part of its business is in that region, is likely to report a US$3.1bn pre-tax profit driven by the relative strength of its consumer and wholesale banking divisions.

The results show a remarkable turnaround for the UK banking sector, which has come perilously close to collapse, and which started this second quarter buffeted by serious concerns about eurozone sovereign debt.

But confidence remains fragile. While it was almost inevitable that loss impairments would drop after such a long period of massive losses, there are still looming refinancing risks ahead for the banks. The Bank of England has said UK banks must refinance short- term debt of between £750bn and £800bn by the end of 2012. Next year alone there is a £250bn refinancing hurdle to meet at the same time that the Government will be withdrawing its guarantees and liquidity support.

UK banks are also driven by the country's credit quality, and any further financial shock could set back any profitable gains made now. The EU-wide bank stress testing carried out two weeks ago, which the UK banks sailed through, has gone some way to restoring confidence, but, as one analyst said, "the banks are still seriously far from out of the woods".

Motivating drivers of the UK's economy – such as employment, retail sales and housing prices – need to remain robust for a continued recovery. The central bank reported last week that mortgage approvals fell in June and were below forecasts, which may indicate that the revival in the housing market is slowing.

Mr King also said last week that he was less than sanguine about the UK's recovery despite its recorded 1.1 per cent GDP growth in the second quarter, and that there was "still some considerable distance to travel".

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:39 am

Goldman employees still enamored with firm and CEO
By Steve Eder

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) is the bank many Americans love to hate, but one group just plain loves it: its employees.

The firm's employees are among the most fiercely loyal in the financial services industry, according to a survey by glassdoor.com, a career website. And Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein had the highest approval rating of any CEO in the financial sector.

Glassdoor.com's survey was done online, which means it is not exactly scientific, but any good news is surely welcome at Goldman, which is fresh off settling civil fraud charges with U.S. securities regulators. The lawsuit set off a public relations nightmare that led some inside the bank to question whether Blankfein should be ousted.

Goldman got top marks from its employees in seven of eight categories -- career opportunities, communication, employee morale, recognition and feedback, senior leadership, and fairness and respect, according to the survey.

The only area where it lagged behind its closest rivals was work/life balance, where it came in behind Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch and Citigroup Inc (C.N) and tied with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N).

Goldman employees are known for working long hours and being on call around the clock, but they are often paid handsomely for their time. Goldman doled out $16.2 billion in bonuses and salary in 2009.

To be included in the Financial Services Industry Report Card, firms had to have at least 20 reviews submitted by employees on glassdoor.com, a site with information about jobs, salaries and companies.

Goldman had 302 employee reviews as of July 29.

One anonymous reviewer, identified as a past employee, called Goldman a "great place," noting that the brand name and compensation are its greatest assets. But the reviewer also stressed the long hours.

"They overwork you," said the reviewer, who gave the firm a perfect score. "Upward mobility is pretty unavailable. People envy you for working there and it's pretty bad. You can't move around."

The only firm to get better marks than Goldman in the survey was Susquehanna International Group, a trading company headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

(Reporting by Steve Eder; editing by John Wallace)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:19 pm

Analysis: Waning inflation view redraws bond market bets
By John Parry

(Reuters) - As the U.S. economy has lost some momentum, markets have swung from fretting about inflation to bracing for a brush with deflation, triggering some major bond market shifts.

Rather than fearing they need to buy protection against inflation, investors earning near zero in cash are prioritizing the hunt for yield.

With inflation running at a low of about 1 percent, some fund managers have upped their purchases of longer maturity corporate bonds in preference to safe-haven government bonds. Longer-dated bonds are the biggest gainers when inflation is tame.

Those still nervous about stocks but unimpressed by very low Treasury yields have sought high-yield corporate bonds that tend to be less volatile than equities.

"When you look at the 8 or 9 percent you can earn, you really have to believe economic growth will deteriorate rapidly to make that (investment) a problem," said Dan Peirce, a portfolio manager responsible for global asset allocation at State Street Global Advisors.

Most economists do not expect severe deflation or a depression, which could cause a surge in corporate defaults and losses for junk bond holders.

Instead, the consensus view is for muted inflation. Economists' latest forecast for core U.S. consumer prices is a 0.8 percent rise in the third and fourth quarters and for a 1.1 percent reading in the first quarter 2011.

A deceleration of the economy's growth pace has pushed the benchmark 10-year Treasury note's yield below 3 percent from as high as 4 percent in April as investors have flocked to this traditional safer-haven. Yet that drop in yield has dimmed government bonds' appeal, some say.

"Treasury bonds look pretty expensive" after their rally year-to-date, said Peirce. "We have been more than happy just to own corporate bonds instead and that has worked out fine."

Although corporate bond yields are at historic lows in some cases, they still offer nearly 200 basis points more than Treasuries, an incentive for those who expect the economy to grow feebly but to escape a recession that would spawn high numbers of corporate defaults.

"We have been seeing some good buying in investment-grade and high-yield securities because of this scenario," said Kevin Flanagan, chief fixed-income strategist with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Purchase, New York.

The buying has given a stellar corporate bond market rally a second wind. The rebound started in the depths of the credit crisis in December 2008, when U.S. investment-grade yield spreads hit record wides above 650 basis points.

This rally stalled in April as concerns about the global impact of Europe's sovereign debt crisis and the possibility of a "double-dip" U.S. recession began to stalk markets. But in recent weeks, fears about both factors have abated somewhat, allowing corporate bond yields to resume a tightening trend.

U.S. investment grade corporate bonds have returned 8.3 percent year-to-date and junk bonds have returned 8.4 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data.

TIPS' STAR WANES

With no inflation on the near horizon, Treasury Inflation Protected Securities have fallen out of favor as a wager on the shorter-term economy and interest rate outlook.

William Bellamy, director of fixed income with Thompson, Siegel & Walmsley in Richmond, Virginia, sold his holdings of inflation-indexed securities during the global financial crisis in 2008. He has not bought any since, expecting downward price pressures in the economy to persist.

"I have been a deflation guy for two years and will be until I see the signposts change in the economy," he said.

Yet some fund managers have hung onto longer maturity inflation-indexed bonds and other fixed-income securities that would do well once rates start to rise.

Although TIPS are not widely sought now, says Peirce, they also haven't generated big price losses for holders and are a useful bet on longer-term inflation expectations.

Some fund managers are buying step-up bonds, whose coupons automatically reset higher at regular intervals, as a bet that the trillions of dollars of debt the government issued during the financial crisis may eventually ignite inflation.

For example, in June, William Larkin, portfolio manager with Cabot Money Management in Salem, Massachusetts, bought a Morgan Stanley step-up bond due in July 2025. The 5 percent coupon on this bond will rise to 6 percent in July 2013 and 8 percent in July 2016. That's a good hedge against inflation if inflation and interest rates start to rise, provided the issuer has not called or redeemed the security by then.

(Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:25 pm

Japan concerned as yen rises towards 15-year high
By Rie Ishiguro and Leika Kihara

(Reuters) - The yen rose on Wednesday toward 15 year highs and benchmark government bond yields slipped under 1 percent, raising concerns about the efforts of policymakers to combat deflation and keep the economy's recovery on course.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda reiterated that he is closely watching currency moves as markets speculate whether authorities will consider intervention or if the Bank of Japan might relax its already ultra-loose monetary policy to curb the yen's rise.

Yen strength is raising alarm among policymakers worried that it could undermine the exports industry that has led the economy out of the global downturn and add to deflationary pressures following 16 straight months of falling consumer prices.

Still, the yen's rise and a fall in 10-year government bond yields below 1 percent largely reflect factors beyond Tokyo's control, complicating the issue for policymakers.

"Long-term JGB yields have started factoring in an economic slowdown on the back of worries about the U.S. economy," said Akitsugu Bandou, senior economist at Okasan Securities.

"A U.S. economic slowdown would hurt emerging markets, which would in turn damage Japanese exports. As such, hopes for an economic recovery at home are being scaled back, also because the yen is appreciating."

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the currency against a basket of other major units, has dropped to its lowest level since April as data points to a faltering U.S. recovery.

Reflecting U.S. and Japan economic concerns, benchmark 10-year government bond yields slid to 0.995 percent, their lowest since August 2003 and a drop of 41 basis points from a peak hit in early April.

The dollar fell to around 85.30 yen, its lowest since late November. A fall below a November low of 84.82 yen would take the dollar to its lowest yen value in 15 years.

"We're watching closely," Noda told reporters when asked about the exchange rate.

The yen's rise hit the stock market, where the Nikkei average .N225 dropped more than 2 percent to 9,474.67 points, as export oriented shares fell.

Camera maker Canon Inc (7751.T) fell more than 4 percent.

RESPONSE

Japan's economy grew at an annualized rate of 5.0 percent in the first quarter, the fastest pace in the G7 after Canada.

Growth is expected to slowdown during the rest of the year as the pace of exports moderates and some government subsidies expire. The downturn and weak domestic demand have led to 16 straight months of deflation.

Markets in Japan are rife with speculation that the BOJ may ease monetary policy further when its board meets on August 10 if the yen shoots up further.

Analysts believe that a BOJ decision, under government pressure, to set up a bank funding scheme in December was designed to help cool the yen, suggesting further central bank action could be considered.

"If the yen's appreciation sends the Nikkei average below 9,000, and if worries about the negative impact on Japan's economy are to increase, the BOJ may have to take some steps," said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Trust & Banking.

Most currency dealers think official intervention is unlikely before the dollar breaks below the 15-year low of 84.82.

Japan has not intervened since a 15-month period up to March 2004 when authorities sold 35 trillion yen ($408 billion) to curb the yen's strength and support the country's exporting industries.
($1=85.80 Yen)

(Additional reporting by Stanley White, Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Neil Fullick)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:31 pm

Weak dollar nears 15-year low versus yen
By Neal Armstrong

The dollar neared a 15-year low against the yen on Wednesday and stayed subdued across the board, as weak U.S. data and talk of further policy easing from the Federal Reserve pushed down Treasury yields.

Data on Tuesday showed U.S. home purchase contracts tumbled to a record low in June, while factory orders fell more steeply than expected, implying an anemic economic recovery for the remainder of this year.

The data also kept alive talk that the Fed might start a new round of Treasuries purchases to pump funds into the economy, as it did during a recent quantitative easing campaign.

On the back of weak data and the Fed speculation, U.S. two-year Treasury note yields on Tuesday fell to a record low, suggesting limited upside for the dollar.

"We see further dollar weakness ahead with the Fed making it clear its priority is to support growth," said Ulrich Leuchtmann, currency analyst at Commerzbank.

The dollar fell as far as 85.32 yen, its lowest since late November, and was trading at 85.47 at 3:50 a.m. ET, down 0.4 percent on the day. Traders said a decline beyond a November low of 84.82 yen could open the way for the dollar to slide to an all-time low below 80 yen, hit 15 years ago.

Hefty options barriers are seen set around 85 yen, meaning a drop in the dollar could pick up speed below that level.

But traders doubt the Bank of Japan will step in to weaken the yen against the dollar.

"The market believes the BOJ has their hands tied with regards to intervention," said Tsutomu Soma, senior manager of the foreign securities department at Okasan Securities.

"The yen is not yet very strong against other currencies besides the dollar, leaving the BOJ little to justify such action with."

Japanese yields also fell on Wednesday, as the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield slid to a seven-year low below 1.0 percent on worries about the economy and persistent deflation.

Traders said this knocked risk sentiment in Asia, as the Nikkei closed with losses of over 2 percent. .N225

EURO BIDS

The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback's performance against major currencies, was little changed at 80.609 .DXY, after closing for the first time since January below its 200-day moving average, today coming in at 80.744.

The index is threatening to revisit April lows at 80.031, while support lies at 79.724, the 61.8 percent retracement of its November to June rally.

The euro dipped 0.1 percent from late U.S. trade to $1.3210, remaining within sight of a three-month high of $1.3262 reached on trading platform EBS on Tuesday.

Traders reported strong bids in the $1.3200 region from Middle East accounts, while a large option expiry was set to roll off at $1.3250 at 1400 GMT.

(Additional reporting by Rika Otsuka; graphic by Scott Barber; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:42 pm

Surprise rise in jobless claims casts pall on economy
By Lucia Mutikani

New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level since early April, highlighting a weak labor market and the fragile economic recovery.

Weekly claims data are often volatile and the figures released on Thursday by the Labor Department have little bearing on the government's closely watched monthly employment report, due on Friday, as they fall outside the survey period.

Still, they are indicative of a labor market that is struggling to gain momentum, putting a strain on the broader economy's recovery from its longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

"While these numbers are volatile, we haven't really made progress in the labor market and that's kind of troubling when you think about the broader economic recovery," said Andrew Gledhill, an economist at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

"For the recovery to turn into a self-sustaining expansion, we need people to have wage income coming in and until that happens, we are still in a tenuous position."

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That compared to market expectations for a drop to 455,000.

Stocks on Wall Street opened lower on the report, while prices for safe-haven U.S. government bonds rose. The U.S. dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro, which was bolstered by solid industrial data from Germany.

The government is expected to report on Friday that nonfarm payrolls probably fell 65,000 last month after declining 125,000 in June as temporary workers hired to conduct the decennial census were let go.

Private-sector payrolls are seen rising a modest 90,000 and the unemployment rate is expected to climb to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent in June.

CAMPAIGN ISSUE

This will be unwelcome news for President Barack Obama, whose popularity has tumbled amid growing unhappiness over the health of the economy, which is the top campaign issue for the November mid-term elections.

The sluggish pace of economic growth threatens to keep unemployment high for months, posing trouble for Democrats hoping to retain their congressional majorities.

Growth slowed to a 2.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter after expanding at a 3.7 percent pace in the first three months of this year.

After falling rapidly in 2009, jobless claims have stalled this year and are anchored above the 400,000 to 450,000 range that analysts say is normally associated with sustainable jobs growth.

Last week, the four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 5,250 to 458,500.

"This report is indicative of weakness in labor market conditions as claims continue to trend sideways," said Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays Capital in New York.

In other data on Thursday, U.S. retailers posted July sales below analysts' expectations in the latest sign that skittishness about high unemployment and the economy are causing consumers to cut spending.

Some retailers that did manage to eke out gains, including several department stores, did so by taking customers from rivals, rather than from an increase in overall spending.

The 28 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters reported a 2.9 percent rise in July sales at stores open at least one year, missing Wall Street forecasts of 3.1 percent rise. Of those, 17 reported lower-than-expected sales, while nine beat estimates.

In the week ended July 24, a total of 4.54 million people were still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid, down 34,000 from the prior week. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast so-called continuing claims slipping to 4.54 million.

The number of people on emergency benefits increased 60,993 to 3.31 million in the week ended July 17. Congress last month restored aid to about 2.5 million unemployed Americans whose benefits had lapsed in May.

"We are likely to see some pick up in the number of extended and emergency claims in the short term, however, there are still large numbers of people who are reaching the maximum 99 weeks of benefits," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

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ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:54 am

3rd month of weak hiring signals long slog ahead
The nation isn't creating nearly enough jobs to reduce persistently high unemployment.

By JEANNINE AVERSA and CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
AP Economics Writers


The nation isn't creating nearly enough jobs to reduce persistently high unemployment.
For the third straight month, the private sector hired cautiously in July. And those meager gains in the job market were nearly wiped out by tens of thousands of cuts at all levels of government.

Making matters worse: Many of the new jobs that are being created do not pay well enough to significantly jump-start spending by shoppers and stimulate the broader economy.

The unemployment rate was stuck at 9.5 percent for the second straight month, the Labor Department said Friday. Analysts said it would probably climb back into double digits because the private sector is not creating jobs fast enough.

Private employers reported a net gain of 71,000 jobs for July - far below the 200,000 it takes for the unemployment rate just to hold steady and keep pace with the growing work force.

Counting the jobs that were lost at the local, state and federal levels in July, the net gain was only 12,000 jobs. And on top of that, 143,000 temporary jobs with the Census Bureau for the 10-year population count came to an end.

So far this year, state and local governments wrestling with budget shortfalls have shed 169,000 jobs. And further losses are on the way - about 20,000 to 30,000 more job cuts a month expected over the rest of the year, despite $26 billion in federal aid.

The weak report could put pressure on the Federal Reserve to take new steps to boost the economy when it meets next week.

Economists are especially concerned that the recovery is losing momentum as it enters the second half of this year, when the benefits of most of the government's stimulus spending will start to wear off.

For now, most of them are betting the economy will continue to grow, though at a lackluster pace, through the rest of this year. Some analysts fear the recovery could fizzle altogether, though.

"If we don't see significant job growth by the end of the year, the economy could be in serious trouble," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock.

President Barack Obama noted that the economy has added private-sector jobs for seven straight months but said the progress "needs to come faster."

Job seekers face tough competition these days. On average, there are 4.7 people vying for each opening. That's down from the peak of 6.3 last year, but more than double the 1.8 unemployed per opening when the recession began in December 2007. Those who do have jobs are working longer and getting only scant increases in pay.

"Employers do not want to take chances," said Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University, Channel Islands.

In particular, the economy has struggled to add high-paying jobs, which help power the economy by putting more spending money in people's pockets.

So far this year, the economy has added only 117,000 high-paying jobs in industries such as construction, manufacturing and mining. Over the past 12 months, it has lost 352,000 of these jobs.

The number of higher-paying jobs in engineering and at law firms has fallen over the past 12 months, too. Electrical engineers make an average of about $41 an hour, lawyers $62.

Arthur Santa-Maria was laid off at Intel Corp. in 2007 after 25 years as an engineer. Now, he's selling refrigerators at Sears and has all but given up on finding an engineering job, instead just trying to make a little money before retiring.

After he lost his job, the 58-year-old landed some interviews, but competition was fierce for every opening, he said. He took the Sears job even though he is paid on commission and has no health benefits.

"Usually, on Fridays and Saturdays I'll make minimum wage, but beyond that, I don't even make lunch money because no one is spending right now," he said.

The meager job growth in the economy has mainly come from the lower-paying service sector, which has generated 513,000 jobs so far this year. Examples of those jobs are cashiers, who make an average of $9 an hour, and hairdressers, who make $13.

That helps explain why Americans overall have reined in their spending and will probably stay hesitant. In June, shoppers failed to boost their spending, and their incomes stagnated, the government said this week. They also saved more. The annualized savings rate reached 6.4 percent, the highest level in nearly a year - and triple the rate in 2007, before the recession.

About a quarter of the job gains this year have been at temporary help firms, according to Moody's Analytics. Those jobs generally offer no benefits and are often part-time. And 70 percent of the employment gains this year have been among workers with a high school degree or less.

Some companies that lack confidence in the durability of the recovery are turning to temporary, rather than permanent, hires. Federal-Mogul Corp., which makes car parts, has hired 1,400 workers in the United States in the past year as car sales have grown. But many of them are temporary hires, allowing the company to stay flexible and get smaller if the economy sours, said Jose Maria Alapont, CEO of the Southfield, Mich., company.

"There is a very clear recovery during the first half of the year, but there are still questions whether that will continue in the second half," Alapont said in an interview.

The bleak government report initially sent stocks falling, with investors seeking the safety of more conservative Treasury bonds, but stocks shaved their losses. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 21 points, or 0.2 percent.

The economy lost speed in the spring, growing at just a 2.4 percent pace in the April-to-June quarter. And it's probably growing even more slowly now, analysts said. It takes about 3 percent growth to create enough jobs to keep up with population growth.

All told, there were 14.6 million people unemployed in July, roughly double the number without jobs when the recession started in December 2007. Counting people working part-time who would prefer full-time work, plus unemployed workers who have given up on their job hunts, 25.8 million people were "underemployed" in July. The "underemployment" rate was 16.5 percent, the same as in June.

Even if hiring picked up, it would take years to regain all the jobs lost during the recession. The economy lost 8.4 million jobs in 2008 and 2009. This year, private employers have added only 559,000 jobs.
---

AP Business Writers Christopher Leonard in St. Louis, Tom Krisher in Detroit and Tali Arbel in New York contributed to this report.


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sunny

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:16 pm

Warning of slowdown even as insolvencies fall
By James Thompson

Mixed signals on the direction of the economic recovery emerged yesterday with the latest insolvency, production and economic forecast data.

On the upside, the number of personal insolvencies fell for the first time since 2007 in the second quarter and manufacturing activity continued to grow in June. But UK production fell and the rate of growth in the wider economy was forecast to have slowed over the latest quarter.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK surged by 1.1 per cent in the three months to 30 June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But economists doubt whether this momentum will be maintained, given the austerity measures unveiled by the Government in June.

While the first decline in personal insolvencies since the final quarter in 2007 suggests the worst is over for households, industry experts warned yesterday it could be a false dawn.

Tim Moss, the head of loans and debt at moneysupermarket.com said: "Many people are just about making ends meet due to the low Bank of England interest rates keeping the cost of mortgages down. However, the only way the base rate can really go is up, and when this happens we could see many households tip over the edge as a result."

The Government's Insolvency Service said that 34,743 people were declared insolvent in the second quarter. This comprises bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements and debt relief orders. The latest figure was down on the 35,682 in the first three months of this year, although it was actually up by 5 per cent on the second quarter of 2009.

There was further welcome news on company insolvencies. The number of firms folding in the second quarter dropped by 19.1 per cent to 4,080 on the same period in 2009.

However, the number of firms collapsing into liquidation was actually up by 0.5 per cent on the 4,060 in the first quarter of 2010.

But Steven Law, the president of R3, the insolvency trade association, expects a larger increase in corporate insolvencies may not show until the end of this year or next. This is partly due to the £5.13bn of tax payment delayed under HMRC's Time to Pay scheme.

It was a similarly mixed message from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) The economic think-tank said economic growth slowed to 0.9 per cent for the three months to 31 July, following 1.1 per cent to the end of June.

The NIESR said its track record of producing early estimates of GDP suggests it has an error rate of between 0.1 to 0.2 per cent.

In the industrial and manufacturing sectors there were reasons to be fearful and cheerful. UK production, including utilities and energy extraction, were down by 0.5 per cent in June on the previous month.

However, the ONS said this fall was largely the result of oil and gas companies carrying out maintenance work on their rigs and equipment earlier in June, instead of August. The annual rate of production rose by 1.3 per cent in June. The level of manufacturing activity in the UK's factories rose by 0.3 per cent, month on month, while the annual rate soared to 4.1 per cent.

The uplift was driven by a 12.9 per cent rise in the machinery and equipment industries and a 9 per cent jump in the transport equipment industries.

The ONS also said factory gate inflation, focused on the cost of raw materials, climbed by 1 per cent in July.

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sunny

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Re: ข่าวต่างประเทศน่าจับตามอง

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:34 am

We're in the money! But maybe we won't get that much

As the high-street banks make bumper profits, their taxpayer rescuers may get little in return. Mark Leftly and Matt Chorley find out why

Taxpayers could end up making a profit of less than £5bn from bailing out the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group, far lower than previously hoped.


After a week of bumper profit announcements in the UK banking sector, which saw even RBS back in the black after three years of losses, there were suggestions that the Government could get at least £85bn for investments that have so far totalled £65.8bn. It signals a remarkable turnaround for the industry, which this week marks three years from the start of the credit crunch in much better shape than many hoped.

Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, told The Independent on Sunday that a sale of the state-owned bank shares would not happen until 2012 at the earliest. "Obviously the aim is to get maximum value for money, but also to do the timing in such a way that it doesn't interfere with any other government objectives," he said.

The taxpayer owns 84 per cent and 41 per cent of RBS and Lloyds respectively. The delay in cashing in the stakes will allow for the Independent Commission on Banking to complete a review into the structure of the entire sector. However, £15bn profits across the major banks caused excitement that the gamble of supporting them during the height of the financial crisis would eventually pay out and help to reduce the UK's massive debt burden. The Centre for Economics and Business Research forecast that the taxpayer could see a £19bn profit, but some of the government and City of London's leading experts strike a more cautious tone. They believe that by selling the stakes at huge profits the taxpayer will ultimately suffer as new investors pass on those costs to bank-account holders. The Government may think it sensible to make a smaller return, satisfied that the banks and the financial system are simply on a surer footing.

A more immediate problem for ministers has been the ongoing battle to persuade banks to lend to small businesses, while also fulfilling requirements for more cautious behaviour. Mr Cable said: "The fundamental dilemma is that the regulators ... are trying to ensure banks hold more capital so they are less vulnerable to future collapses. But the other objective is that we want banks to lend to good companies who depend on them, particularly in the SME [small and medium enterprise] sector. Those objectives are at odds with each other."

Bruce Packard, analyst at Seymour Pierce, said that speculation over likely returns from rescuing RBS and Lloyds had falsely implied that the Government was looking to make the sort of money normally associated with venture capitalists. He said: "I think the Government will look to achieve some sort of small profit. I don't think that they will be looking for private-equity type returns ... They took the stakes to stop people queuing outside the bank branches. I'm not sure it would be a great idea to make superprofits."

This echoes comments made last month by Andrew Tyrie, the new chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. He said that there was "a risk of governmental conflict of interest" in trying to maximise the price of any share sales and ensuring that the stakes ended up with the best investors to support the banks in the future.

Mr Packard suggested that he expects the Government to sell at about 1.2 times what it paid for the shares. But once the Government's cost of borrowing to pay for the bailout is factored in, this would mean the taxpayer would make only a 7 per cent profit.

The Government started investing in the two banks in late 2008, and earlier that year nationalised Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley. The bank failures became the UK's symbols of the credit crunch, the third anniversary of which falls tomorrow.

There had been signs in the first half of 2007 that the Western world's boom was about to go bust, with the collapse of US sub-prime mortgage specialist New Century Financial. There were also signs that banks were no longer lending buyout firms money on frighteningly lax terms and conditions – known as "covenant-lite".

However, 9 August 2007 has become widely known as the start of the credit crunch, which led to global recession and a rethink of how Western countries do business. On that date, the French investment bank BNP Paribas told investors in two of its funds that they would not be able to withdraw their money. There was no cash available as banks were not lending to each other – the key to the Western world's financial system.

There would soon emerge a number of villains in the big banks, mainly men who stood accused of allowing their egos to jeopardise their companies and the wider economy. Most infamously, RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin completed Europe's biggest banking takeover, splashing out €71bn for Dutch rival ABN Amro in October 2007. Barclays had been favourite to win the battle for ABN, but wisely decided against getting into a financial fistfight with the risk-taking, combative Sir Fred.

Cracks soon started to emerge. The following April RBS launched the biggest rights issue – that is, going cap in hand to existing shareholders for money – ever seen in the UK and wiped £5.9bn off the value of its investments.

By the end of the year RBS had to be saved by the Government, which also persuaded Lloyds TSB to take over HBOS. The latter had extraordinary problems, largely related to the bad loans it granted to commercial and residential property developers, which will take years to resolve.

Sir Fred quit and tried to keep out of the public eye, but failed when the enormity of his pension payout was unveiled in February 2009. His Edinburgh home was attacked and he eventually agreed to reduce his pension pot by more than £200,000 a year.

Earlier this year he finally found work as group strategic adviser to Scottish architectural practice RMJM. His biography on the company website describes him as having "many years' experience of building global businesses and expanding into international markets". It does not mention his eight years at the helm of RBS.

Less widely vilified was Adam Applegarth, who visibly struggled with the scale of the crisis before him when, as head of Northern Rock, he presided over the first run on a UK bank since the 19th century. As reports emerged that Mr Applegarth had requested and secured financial support from the Government, customers panicked and joined the long queues forming outside branches to withdraw their money.

On the other side of the pond came the bankruptcy of the investment banking giant Lehman Brothers in September 2008. This showed that no institution was "too big to fail". It went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy with debts of $619bn. Barclays and Bank of America both decided it was too risky to buy the business, which had spectacularly failed on betting on the strength of the sub-prime mortgage market.

Despite all the warnings and failures, it was Lehman that took the global markets to the brink.

Tony Lomas, the partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers who has led the administration of the London-based arm of Lehman, is shocked by the scale of unravelling of the bank's European assets. He worked on the administration of the notorious Enron bankruptcy, but says Lehman is "at least 10 times" more complicated.

As a result of the banking failures the Government has resolved to change the way the sector is regulated, and there is a growing drive to break up banks so that risk-taking corporate investment divisions do not endanger high street customer deposits.

Three years on, Mr Cable warns that the big banks are still "structurally dangerous".
=======================================================

The IoS panel: 'You just have to ride the storm'

Andy Chambers, plumber

Age: 43. Lives: Brentwood, Essex. Marital status: Divorced. House: Owned. Cars: None – uses company car. Children: One daughter and two sons. Income: Less than £50,000 per year

"I would say work's got worse rather than better. There was more around last year than this year. I think other plumbers are undercutting everyone else and people are not having as much work done; and I think people have tightened their belts and they're not ready to release them yet. I've got friends in different trades that don't have any work either. People can't afford to get small extensions built, and it has a knock-on effect. You just have to ride the storm. You never know what next week is going to bring."

Andy Brown, teacher

Age: 40. Lives: Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Marital status: Married. Children: Two. House: Owned. Cars: Two Income: £50-£60k (joint)

"Not very much has changed for us over the past couple of years. There is a new 2.3 per cent pay deal, which is good, but we are really worried about what will happen next for our pensions and in terms of public-sector cuts. We are very aware that we are in the midst of a recession. It is a huge issue for us, what will happen if you lose funding for schools and for teachers. We are also worried about securing capital building supplies for schools. There are teachers here doing their very best to deliver a first-class curriculum in buildings that aren't fit for purpose."

Joanna Cobb, estate agent

Age: 32. Lives: Hereford. Marital status: Married. Children: None. House: Owned. Cars: One. Income: Declined to say

"The attitude of house-buyers has changed slightly. People used to be more optimistic about selling. A year ago, they would view a property on the market whether or not they had a potential buyer for their house, but now they are not viewing until it has sold. We have had four exchanges in August already, so that is the busiest we have been for a long time, but partly that is because it's summer and people want to move in the summer holidays and get their kids settled into school and things like that. But it's not very busy. For myself, I do feel optimistic, I think the market will change."

Jacqueline Rice, pensioner

Age: 70. Lives: Peterborough. Marital status: Married. Children: Four sons. House: Sheltered accommodation. Cars: None. Income: £9,000 pa

"Our son has started doing our monthly shop for us because I'm not mobile, and he gets us good deals. Food prices have shot up. Last time my husband and I went shopping it really panicked us. In two months our shopping bill has gone from £76 to £89. We can't afford that again. We would have to cut back on necessities. The first thing to go would be cleaning products, but then how would we keep the house clean? I've already started Christmas shopping because it's cheaper now. I'm scared I'll have to give my children things that are no good because we can't afford more."

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sunny

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Registration date : 28/06/2008

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