What Exactly Did Obama Say To Wall Street’s CEOs Last Thursday at 11am ET? S&P 500, Gold and Crude Oil All Peaked at 11am

What Exactly Did Obama Say To Wall Street’s CEOs Last Thursday?

Tyler Durden on 04/18/2013 22:06 -0400

Correlation is not causation; but coincidence means you’re on the right path. Looking at the charts of Stocks, Commodities, and Precious Metals, we wonder just what it was that President Obama said at his 11am ET White House meeting last Thursday… Equity markets soared out of the gate on the 11th. Jobless claims beat expectations handily (shaking off the previous week’s concerns) and all was well in the world… until just after 11am ET (when the CEOs of Wall Street’s big banks – for no apparent reason – met with President Obama)… and this happened… Gold also peaked at just after 11am ET… as did Crude oil… So what did Obama tell them?


Cola Wars, China Style

04.19.2013 14:47

Cola Wars, China Style

The government and a private company are battling in the market – and in court – over the country’s favorite soft drink

By staff reporter Qu Yunxu


(Guangzhou) — Eighteen years ago, a Hong Kong businessman named Chan Hung-to took a sip of an herbal tea produced by a government factory in Guangzhou and tasted the future – a beverage that he imagined could be the Coca-Cola of China. The sweet, cold drink called Wanglaoji herbal tea is an acquired taste, a blend of seven medicinal herbs and flowers, including honeysuckle, mint and chrysanthemum. Chan succeeded in making it China’s favorite drink. After licensing the tea’s name and recipe, he took it out of its dowdy green package, put it in an iconic red can with a bold golden logo and spent millions of yuan on massive marketing campaigns. By 2009, it was outselling even Coke in the country. Now, Chan and his erstwhile government partners are locked in a series of bitter trademark battles. While the court hearing for the latest lawsuit is waiting to be held, the real story of Wanglaoji may be that winning in the marketplace is more important than winning in court. But whether Chan can maintain market share if he loses the rights to use the bright red can design is a question worth billions of yuan. Feng Zhimin, a senior executive at Chan’s firm, says they are almost ready to throw in the towel on legal action. “If we lose this case again, there is no justice. We will give up,” he says. Read more of this post

Two-thirds of all $100 bills live outside America

Most $100 Bills Live Outside The U.S.

by JACOB GOLDSTEIN, April 17, 201312:00 PM

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The world loves the U.S. dollar.

When, say, a South African businessman buys supplies from China, he pays in U.S. dollars. When central banks hold foreign reserves, they favor dollars. And, all over the world, when things start to get crazy, people start putting $100 bills under the mattress. In fact, as of 2011, roughly two-thirds of all $100 bills were held outside the U.S., according to anestimate by Ruth Judson, an economist at the Fed.


pm-gr-dollardollarbill-616 Read more of this post

Snoozebox (ZZZ), portable hotels made of stackable containers that have housed fans at events, has gained 55 percent since its IPO last May, outperforming European hoteliers such as Accor and InterContinental

Snoozebox Portable Hotels Conceived in Misery of Rain at Le Mans

images (7)

When Ignis Asset fund manager David Clark first heard of Snoozebox (ZZZ), portable hotels made of stackable containers that have housed fans at events such as the Le Mans 24-hour car race, he wanted to kick himself. Instead, he made sure Ignis was the biggest investor. “When I first came across it I had ‘duh’ moment,” Clark said in a phone interview. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the numbers of places that hold events but don’t have the accommodations for people to stay in.” Ignis now holds 14 percent of Snoozebox Holdings Plc’s shares.

Snoozebox, which transports rooms equipped with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and running hot water to sporting and music events across the U.K. and beyond, may almost triple its revenue this year, said Simon French, an analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co., who recommends buying the stock. The London-based company may report 5.4 million pounds ($8.3 million) in sales for 2012 when it releases earnings April 23, he said.

The stock has gained 55 percent since its initial public offering last May, outperforming European hoteliers such as Accor SA (AC) and InterContinental Hotels Group Plc. (IHG) The MSCI Europe Hotels, Restaurants and Leisure Index has advanced about 14 percent. The shares rose 8.3 yesterday after Snoozebox said it won a contract to supply accommodation for 1,350 personnel at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June. Chief Executive Officer Robert Breare said the trick is to transport — by air, land or sea — 40 to 400 prebooked rooms that are placed steps from the action. Read more of this post

Australia: Crackdown on shadow banking after a spate of failures among finance companies that accepted debentures, including the $660 million collapse of Banksia last year

Crackdown on shadow banking

April 19, 2013 – 2:23PM, Clancy Yeates

The financial regulator is proposing tougher rules on non-bank finance companies that accept retail deposits after a string of collapses in the “shadow banking” sector. In new proposals published today, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said it would restrict companies that operate outside the Banking Act from using terms such as “deposit” and “at call” accounts. Currently there are no restrictions on use these phrases by finance companies, which are regulated much more lightly than banks. Under the proposed changes, APRA said it would remove an exemption that allows finance companies to use these terms, to avoid confusion among retail investors. It also said it would require debenture products to have a minimum maturity of 31 days. The crackdown comes after a spate of failures among finance companies that accepted debentures, including the $660 million collapse of Banksia last year.

Yoshinoya Japan slashes beef bowl prices

Yoshinoya slashes beef bowl prices

KYODO, APR 19, 2013

Yoshinoya Holdings Co. on Thursday cut prices for its mainstay “gyudon” beef-on-rice bowls to take advantage of eased restrictions on beef imports from the United States. The relaxation of strict import curbs in February is allowing the stable procurement of cheaper beef suitable for gyudon, the company said. Yoshinoya slashed beef bowl prices by ¥100 to match its two biggest rivals — Zensho Holdings Co.’s Sukiya chain and Matsuya Foods Co. — which are currently charging ¥280 for a standard bowl. The price of a large bowl dropped by ¥40 to ¥440, while the extra large bowl fell by ¥90 to ¥540. The price cuts are expected to produce about 30 percent more customers and a 15 to 20 percent boost in sales, the firm said. Prices for other ingredients, however, are starting to rise, thanks to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” policies. Players in the fast-food industry say that lower gyudon prices are the key to winning market share.


WHO: More than 50% of infected patients with H7N9 bird flu had no contact with poultry, further raising questions about human transmission

WHO data on bird flu raises new questions about human transmission

3:49am EDT

By Megha Rajagopalan

BEIJING (Reuters) – More than 50 percent of patients infected with a new type of bird flu in China had no contact with poultry, the World Health Organization said on Friday, further raising questions about whether the virus was transmitted between humans.

The H7N9 virus has so far infected 87 people in China and killed 17, but it remains unclear how they contracted the disease. A Chinese official earlier this week said about 40 percent of patients had been in no contact with poultry. Read more of this post

Britain is doing more of its shopping online and not just because it’s been freezing

Britain is doing more of its shopping online and not just because it’s been freezing

By Leo Mirani @lmirani April 18, 2013

ASOS internet-sales-as-a-percentage-of-total-uk-retail-sales_chart

The weather gets blamed for an awful lot of depressing economic data in Britain. If it isn’t the Chancellor of the Exchequer blaming the snow, it is the venerable Office for National Statistics blaming the cold. According to the latest ONS retail sales report (pdf), “March 2013 was the second coldest on record, and this appears to have had a negative effect on sales in the non-food sector.” Retail spending dropped 0.7% from the previous month and 0.5% from the previous year, in terms of volume. Spending in terms of value was more-or-less flat. Now, admittedly, March was an astonishingly cold month in the United Kingdom, with freezing temperatures lasting well into the first week of April. Regardless, the numbers do not bode well for the UK’s economic recovery. And things look even worse if spending on automotive fuel is removed from the equation.

But the weather may also have been good for some retailers. Sales on the internet made up more than a tenth of total sales in March, a surprisingly high proportion for this time of year. Online spending tends to spike in November and remain high in December, when people to shop for Christmas but don’t want to get trampled underfoot on the high street. Shopping in general dips in the first few months of the new year, as people recover from the party season. Internet sales typically trail off as the weather gets better and people venture back outdoors. Read more of this post

Buffett’s China BYD mulls leaner, greener “re-birth” plan

Exclusive: China’s BYD mulls leaner, greener “re-birth” plan

Thu, Apr 18 2013

By Norihiko Shirouzu

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – BYD Co, one of the better known Chinese brands thanks to a stake held by billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett, may stop making conventional gasoline-fuelled cars within two years and focus on ‘new energy’ battery models as part of a “re-birth plan” to arrest a slump in sales.

Shares in BYD, which once harbored long-term ambitions to be as big as Toyota Motor Corp, have tumbled by almost three quarters since a late-2009 peak, as net profit crumbled to just 81.4 million yuan ($13.15 million) last year from 3.8 billion yuan four years ago. Read more of this post

Is Pepsi better off without Pepsi? The slowing drinks business is seen as a drag on Pepsi’s growing snacks business

Is Pepsi better off without Pepsi?

By Gina Chon @GinaChon April 18, 2013

Did Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi throw activist investors a bone today? During the call to discuss the company’s latest earnings, Nooyi said Pepsi is exploring “sensible opportunities to unlock incremental value through meaningful structural alternatives.” “Unlocking value” and “structural alternatives” are sometimes the jargon words used when considering a breakup.

Whether Pepsi, which makes an array of soft drinks, energy drinks, and snacks, goes that far remains to be seen. Nooyi said she won’t discuss the plans until next year. But she did note that the cola category, which includes Pepsi’s namesake products, has been tough as people drift away from sugary drinks for health reasons. That has brought down the performance of its North American beverage business.

Activist investor Ralph Whitworth of Relational Investors is among (paywall) the shareholders who have been pushing Pepsi to do something about its slow-growing beverage unit. One suggestion is separating that drinks business into an independent company. Investors are continuing to press for this, according to sources.

The slowing drinks business is seen as a drag on Pepsi’s growing snacks business. Today’s reported earnings beat analysts’ estimates because sales went up of products like Lays potato chips, Doritos, and Stacy’s pita chips. That gives investors even more ammunition to push for a breakup. Whitworth has discussed a separation of the North American beverage business with Nooyi in the past. Read more of this post

Putin’s friends now own 88% of Russia’s Facebook

Putin’s friends now own 88% of Russia’s Facebook

By Simone Foxman and Gideon Lichfield 9 hours ago

Censorship or investor war? That’s a subject of debate in Russia, after a fund managed by a Russian businessman with close ties to the Kremlin acquired 48% of the country’s largest social-networking site, V Kontakte (“in touch”), which is similar to Facebook.

On Wednesday, two of the founding investors in V Kontakte sold their shares to investment fund United Capital Partners. UCP is headed by Ilya Shcherbovich, a board member at the state-owned oil giant Rosneft, which makes him an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The remaining 52% of the company is controlled Pavel Durov, the 28-year-old founder of V Kontakte. Durov actually owns only 12% of V Kontakte’s shares, but last year, online firm Mail.ru handed him control of its 40% stake of the company’s shares. Mail.ru is controlled by Alisher Usmanov, another Kremlin buddy and Russia’s richest man. It’s unclear if this agreement between Mail.ru and Durov can be reversed, though Durov says his control of the stake doesn’t expire (link in Russian). Read more of this post

The Mystery of Zero-Leverage Firms

The Mystery of Zero-Leverage Firms

Ilya A. Strebulaev Stanford University – Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research

Baozhong Yang Georgia State University – Robinson College of Business

February 20, 2013
Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming

We present the puzzling evidence that, from 1962 to 2009, an average 10.2% of large public nonfinancial US firms have zero debt and almost 22% have less than 5% book leverage ratio. Zero-leverage behavior is a persistent phenomenon. Dividend-paying zero-leverage firms pay substantially higher dividends, are more profitable, pay higher taxes, issue less equity, and have higher cash balances than control firms chosen by industry and size. Firms with higher Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ownership and longer CEO tenure are more likely to have zero debt, especially if boards are smaller and less independent. Family firms are also more likely to be zero-levered.

110 million defective condoms in Ghana: the latest example of China’s dangerous counterfeit trade

110 million defective condoms in Ghana: the latest example of China’s dangerous counterfeit trade

By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros April 18, 2013

China’s $250 billion knock-off trade doesn’t just mean fewer handbag sales for LVMH, or a hit to the DVD sales market. It can also have potentially lethal consequences.

Take, for example, counterfeit condoms, 110 million of which the Food and Drugs Authority of Ghana has impounded over the last week due to poor quality. Testing revealed the condoms to have holes and break under pressure. It also found that they were unusually small and insufficiently lubricated.

And those hole-riddled, flimsy, undersized condoms were made in China, the FDA confirmed Tuesday, identifying Henan Xibei Latex Company Ltd. as the manufacturer. (Here’s the company’s Alibaba.com profile, should you be in the market for defective protection). On top of that, Yenghana reports that the leaky condoms are counterfeit, and that the purported manufacturer, BeSafe, has never sold its products in Ghana.

This isn’t the first time that a Chinese company has been implicated in selling faulty or knock-off condoms. They’ve been bedeviling global public health officials for more than a decade (examples hereherehere and here). Read more of this post

Going local: Japanese carmakers turn to Chinese parts for China market; “Things like the endurance of an auto part are very hard to check unless you actually apply them in cars on the road.”

Going local: Japanese carmakers turn to Chinese parts for China market

Thu, Apr 18 2013

By Kazunori Takada

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – When Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T:QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) was preparing to launch the Venucia marque with its China venture partner two years ago, it sourced more components locally to keep costs down – and was sent mislabeled parts and sun visors that melted in the heat.

The quality of Chinese-made car parts has since improved and, facing tougher competition in what is now the world’s biggest autos market, Nissan and its Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: QuoteProfileResearch,Stock Buzz) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) are having to increase the locally made content in their cars.

This is a big step for Japanese automakers that have built a global reputation for quality through close relationships with known and trusted suppliers, many of whom they own and control and with whom they jointly design and develop components. Read more of this post

Flu Experts Probe H7N9 Outbreak as Cases Double in a Week to 88 Infections

Flu Experts Probe H7N9 Outbreak as Cases Double in a Week

Influenza specialists from around the world are converging on China to help authorities identify how people are catching the new H7N9 bird flu strain after the number of reported cases there doubled in the past week.

China recorded its 88th H7N9 infection yesterday. Seventeen of the cases have been fatal and “several others” have left patients in critical condition, according to the World Health Organization.

“That’s a fairly high mortality rate,” Michael O’Leary, the WHO’s China representative, told reporters in Beijing today. Less severe cases may have escaped detection, he said. “What we don’t know is the size of the iceberg under this tip.” Read more of this post

Longest Retirements Fuel Pressure for Singapore Remodel; “The emphasis is no more on the people. I feel that the government is not improving our lives.”

World’s Longest Retirements Fuel Pressure for Singapore Remodel

Singaporean Richard Mui joined the ranks of the world’s longest-living retirees when his career ended in 2010. Three years on, the 54-year-old can no longer afford to pay his father’s medical bills, and worries about putting his two children through university.

Almost half a century after independence, Singaporeans now live the most number of years after leaving the workforce, according to the Global Sunset Index of 68 countries compiled by Bloomberg. In the world’s sixth-most expensive city, 41 percent of more than 1,000 residents surveyed by HSBC Holdings Plc (5) said they haven’t saved for retirement, with nearly half of them blaming living costs for hampering efforts.

“The standard of living has improved, but the cost of living, we’re feeling the pinch,” said Mui, who’s made S$4,000 ($3,240) in the past six months as a part-time taxi driver, compared with S$12,000 a month at digital-storage device company SM Summit Holdings Ltd. before a corporate takeover put him out of a job. “The Singapore government is one of the richest in the world but yet the people don’t feel they are rich.”

Mui’s experience encapsulates the economic success that forged Southeast Asia’s only developed nation, as well as the challenges emerging after decades of policies emphasizing self- reliance over state-funded welfare. An aging population and voter demands for more government aid for the poor and elderly have put pressure on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to boost social spending even as growth slows. Read more of this post

Two Promising Places to Live, 1,200 Light-Years From Earth

April 18, 2013

Two Promising Places to Live, 1,200 Light-Years From Earth



An artist’s impression of a sunrise on Kepler 62f. The two outer planets of the Kepler 62 system may lie in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface.

Astronomers said Thursday that they had found the most Earth-like worlds yet known in the outer cosmos, a pair of planets that appear capable of supporting life and that orbit a star 1,200 light-years from here, in the northern constellation Lyra.

They are the two outermost of five worlds circling a yellowish star slightly smaller and dimmer than our Sun, heretofore anonymous and now destined to be known in the cosmic history books as Kepler 62, after NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which discovered them. These planets are roughly half again as large as Earth and are presumably balls of rock, perhaps covered by oceans with humid, cloudy skies, although that is at best a highly educated guess.

Nobody will probably ever know if anything lives on these planets, and the odds are that humans will travel there only in their faster-than-light dreams, but the news has sent astronomers into heavenly raptures. William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, head of the Kepler project, described one of the new worlds as the best site for Life Out There yet found in Kepler’s four-years-and-counting search for other Earths. He treated his team to pizza and beer on his own dime to celebrate the find (this being the age of sequestration). “It’s a big deal,” he said. Read more of this post

Finding Your Place in the Competitive Jungle

Finding Your Place in the Competitive Jungle

by Vijay Govindarajan and Srikanth Srinivas  |  11:00 AM April 18, 2013

It’s a jungle out there.

While this simple phrase has been used time and time again to discuss the many obstacles people and companies face, an animal metaphor does describe required innovation actions rather effectively. Imagine a 2×2 matrix with size on the y-axis and speed on the x-axis. Size can be represented as market share, revenue, or units sold, depending on the context. Speed is the speed of innovation of a company relative to the industry. When a company, product, or service is ahead of the competition, speed is high. When it is lagging behind the competition, speed is low.But why is relative speed so important? Consider a story where two hunters encounter a lion with no ammunition left in their guns. When one starts to run, the other claims the lion will eat him either way. The first replies, “Not as long as I can run faster than you!” Just like in the jungle, if you are not faster than the competition, you can get eaten up. The key question is, “What actions can be taken to get ahead of the pack?” — to become a jaguar or to stay a jaguar, as you see in the matrix below.

jungle-graphic2-thumb-580x611-3825 Read more of this post

Retina Institute Japan K.K., which is employing Nobel Prize-winning stem-cell technology to treat eye diseases, plans to sell a stake in itself to a group of Japanese companies

Japanese Firm Luring Investors With Nobel-Winning Technology

Retina Institute Japan K.K., which is employing Nobel Prize-winning stem-cell technology to treat eye diseases, plans to sell a stake in itself to a group of Japanese companies next month ahead of a possible initial public offering in five years.

The company, based in Fukuoka City, Japan, will raise 1 billion yen ($10.2 million) from the sale to fund development of a treatment for age-related macular degeneration — a leading cause of blindness in the elderly — using technology developed by Riken, Japan’s state-controlled research institute, Chief Executive Officer Hardy Kagimoto said in an interview.

After raising about 32 billion yen so far from investors, Retina is developing technology from a discovery that won Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University, the Nobel Prize for medicine in October. Yamanaka discovered a way to turn ordinary skin cells into what are called induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells.

“The development of retina treatment with iPS cells can lead to development of the cell-utilized therapies for a wide range of diseases,” said Akitsu Hotta, an assistant professor at Kyoto University who studies stem cells. Retina’s commercialization of the technology “will be a big milestone.”

Retina last month estimated the potential market for its treatments at $21 billion. Read more of this post

Women Cash In on Dakota Oil Service Needs to Sustain Boom

Women Cash In on Dakota Oil Service Needs to Sustain Boom

Amanda Kieson gets calls at 2:30 a.m. to collect urine samples from workers involved in accidents in western North Dakota’s oil industry. The 33-year-old mother of two says she opened her testing service two years ago to get a part of the economic bonanza engulfing the region.

“I love my business, which is weird because, you know, with what we actually have to put up with,” Kieson, the owner of Badlands Occupational Testing Services, said in a phone interview. The company in Watford City has grown to six employees and 24-hour service from demand for post-accident reports and pre-employment drug screening. “We are busy all the time.”

While men dominate the manual-labor jobs on the rigs, women are exercising entrepreneurial zeal in opening services ranging from oil well geology to occupational testing to day care and medical clinics in western North Dakota. Local authorities and company executives say the women — and the businesses they’re creating — are needed to sustain the economic boost.

“There are great opportunities for women,” Kathy Neset, 57, the president of Neset Consulting Service Inc., said in an interview. “Whatever skill you have, we need it in western North Dakota.” Read more of this post

Australian regulator fires warning over property advice for SMSFs (self-managed super fund) to borrow to invest in property; “We do not want to see SMSFs become the vehicle of choice for properties brokers.”

Regulator fires warning over property advice for SMSFs

April 19, 2013

Max Newnham

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Thursday released a report from a self-managed super fund taskforce it set up to look at risks in the sector. The report focused on the quality of advice given to people setting up SMSFs. Although the study showed most advice given was adequate or better, there were problems relating to funds borrowing to invest in property. Read more of this post

Australian dairy farmers cut out the middleman; “Coles and Woolworths have such a degree of market power that it makes it difficult for suppliers to make a return”

Dairy farmers cut out the middleman

April 19, 2013 – 1:33PM

Tim Bale’s dairy farm barely broke even in six years as mergers of processors and competition between supermarkets Coles and Woolworths pushed down milk prices. So 14 months ago, he decided to cut out the middleman.

“The milk processors would do a deal with Woolworths and then come back to us and drop our price,” he said. “So I wrote to Woolworths and said, ‘We can sell you milk here that’s better than what you’re getting.”

Farmers in Australia’s $4 billion dairy industry are striking direct deals with supermarkets that control 80 per cent of the country’s grocery sector, as a drive to sell milk for $1 a litre squeezes profits. That’s threatening milk processors Kirin Holdings, Parmalat, and Fonterra Cooperative.

“Coles and Woolworths have such a degree of market power that it makes it difficult for suppliers to make a return,” said Nick Green, a spokesman for Australian Dairy Farmers, a group representing both processors and farmers. “Any industry is unsustainable if it’s only barely breaking even or making a loss.” Read more of this post

VW Recall Highlights Perils of Too Much Success in China

VW Recall Highlights Perils of Too Much Success in China

Volkswagen AG (VOW), Daimler AG (DAI) and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) posted record 2012 sales fueled by demand in China. This year, that growth is at risk as the government in Beijing steps up scrutiny of the automakers and media outlets question their quality.

VW last month recalled 384,181 vehicles in China after state television featured complaints about vibrations, loss of power and sudden acceleration in Golfs and other cars. China Central Television also reported that BMW, Audi and Mercedes owners experienced dizziness from asphalt in their vehicles.

“Of course we take the concerns in China very seriously and are investigating the matter,” Joachim Schmidt, sales chief at Mercedes, said last week. Yet he said he was surprised by the complaints. “The components we use have been thoroughly tested before and we use them in vehicles across the globe,” he said. “You would assume that customers outside China might notice something similar.”

The reports come as Chinese authorities have vowed to unmask producers of low-quality or dangerous goods. While Chinese companies haven’t been spared scrutiny, foreigners are frequent targets. In the past year, China Central Television has reported that McDonald’s Corp. sold chicken wings past their sell-by date, Carrefour SA (CA) mislabeled lower quality chicken as premium, and Apple Inc. failed to replace the back covers of iPhones after repairing electronics inside. All have issued apologies and offered fixes. Read more of this post

China Luxury Jet Sales Set to Surge Amid Xi’s Austerity Drive

China Luxury Jet Sales Set to Surge Amid Xi’s Austerity Drive

President Xi Jinping’s austerity drive is not dissuading Chinese private jet buyers.

Customers may buy about 40 private jets this year in China, compared with 27 ordered in 2012, amid a surge in wealth, said Richard Koe, managing director at Hamburg, Germany-based Wingx Advance Gmbh, a business-aviation data company. General Dynamics Corp. (GD)’s Gulfstream is among companies expanding in the country, home to 336 private planes already.

The number of billionaires in China may overtake Germany within the next year, and climb to No. 2 in the world, according to Wealth-X, a Singapore-based company, which collects data on high net worth individuals. Surging demand for planes that could cost about $65 million apiece contrasts with Xi’s vow to rein in on extravagant spending.

“There is wealth to support a much larger fleet,” said Koe. “The development of infrastructure and economic growth are encouraging demand for private jets in China.”

China may become the world’s third-biggest private-jet market by as early as 2022, from a rank below 25 now, Koe said in an interview in Singapore April 17. Xi’s push against “flamboyant” spending will do little to deter the rising demand in the country, he said. Read more of this post

Dutch Recession Woes Haunt Rutte as Deficit Breach Persists; “The increase in unemployment is alarming”

Dutch Recession Woes Haunt Rutte as Deficit Breach Persists

Record unemployment in the Netherlands is compounding Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s dilemma on how far to push austerity measures needed to curb the country’s deficit.

Consumer confidence due today and statistics on house prices, consumer spending and manufacturers’ confidence next week will confirm just how far the slump has damaged sentiment in the euro-area’s fifth largest economy. Data yesterday showed the jobless rate reached an 18-year high of 8.1 percent in March, with 643,000 people out of work.

Rutte’s coalition government agreed on a four-year, 16 billion-euro ($21 billion) austerity package in October and will decide later this year on additional measures of 4.3 billion euros for 2014. The Netherlands, in the throes of a housing- market slump and facing its third recession since 2009, has breached the European Union’s deficit limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product limit since then.

“The increase in unemployment is alarming,” Sweder van Wijnbergen, a professor of economics at the University of Amsterdam, said in an interview. “The Dutch government has to reduce its deficit, so cannot be an engine of growth. Business investment isn’t likely to pick up before a recovery, so it can’t lead us out of the recession either.” Read more of this post

ANZ Seen Bolstered by Unwinding $2 Billion Asian Bet; “If you can’t solve the ROE puzzle, pack up. It’s very easy to throw capital at it. It’s another thing to get a decent return.”

ANZ Seen Bolstered by Unwinding $2 Billion Asian Bet

After spending more money on acquisitions across Asia than any domestic rival, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) would do better for its shareholders by unraveling some of that wager.

ANZ has spent at least $1.95 billion since 1999 on Asian deals, landing minority stakes in banks and brokers from China to Indonesia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The holdings — now valued by ANZ at $3.64 billion — have proven less lucrative than ANZ’s own operations there and selling them would reverse a strategy that has defined the bank since 2007.

With little chance ANZ will ever have management control to improve the performance of some of the Asian assets, the Melbourne-based bank’s stock has trailed Australian peers in the past year, said BBY Ltd. New rules requiring the bank to set aside more capital against the foreign stakes are making them even less appealing, said Morningstar Inc. ANZ’s return on equity is projected to slip below all three of its major domestic rivals by 2015, analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.

“They should just sell them,” Brett Le Mesurier, an analyst at Sydney-based stockbroker BBY, said in a phone interview, referring to the minority stakes. “It makes no sense. It’s alright if it’s a road to somewhere, but we’re not seeing much evidence of that. Shareholders are running out of patience.” Read more of this post

SAP Software Sales Miss Estimates on Lower Demand in Asia

SAP Software Sales Miss Estimates on Lower Demand in Asia

SAP AG (SAP), the largest maker of business-management software, reported first-quarter software sales that trailed analysts’ estimates after the company failed to close contracts in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sales of new software licenses, an indicator of future revenue, rose 3 percent to 657 million euros ($859 million), Walldorf, Germany-based SAP said today. That was slower than the 9 percent growth in the previous quarter and fell short of the 726 million-euro median of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Operating profit adjusted for some items rose 8 percent to 901 million euros, also missing estimates. SAP joins other software makers in reporting slowing traditional license sales. Oracle Corp. on March 20 reported revenue and profit that fell short of analysts’ estimates as demand for Web-based programs hurt sales of its hardware and on-premise software. Read more of this post

Wall St. Redux: Arcane Names Hiding Big Risk; Investments that were vulnerable in the last financial crisis and believed to be gone for good have largely escaped new rules that were made to prevent another crisis

April 18, 2013

Wall St. Redux: Arcane Names Hiding Big Risk



The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street.

The revival partly reflects the same investor optimism that has lifted the stock market to new heights. With the real estate market and the economy improving, another financial crisis seems a distant prospect. What’s more, at a time when the Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates close to zero, the safest of these new investments offer interest rates almost double that paid by ultrasafe United States Treasury securities, according to RBS Securities, which was involved in such instruments in the past.

But the revival also underscores how these investments, known as structured financial products, have largely escaped new regulations that were supposed to prevent a repeat of the last financial crisis.

“All of this seems like a fairly quick round trip,” said Manus Clancy, a managing director at Trepp, a research firm that focuses on commercial real estate. “You are seeing a fair number of sins being forgiven.” Read more of this post

World’s Oldest Person Jiroemon Kimura Turns 116 in Japan; Kimura’s motto in life is “to eat light and live long”

World’s Oldest Person Turns 116 in Japan
April 19, 2013


The world’s oldest person turned 116 on Friday as local health chiefs in Japan launch a study to find out why he and many of those around him have lived so long.

Jiroemon Kimura, who was born in 1897, was expected to celebrate his astonishing milestone with friends and family, and receive a visit from the mayor of his home city of Kyotango in the west of the country.

Kimura is one of 95 people who will be 100 years old or more in the city’s 60,000-strong population.

The centenarian does not smoke and has made it a practice to eat only until he is 80 percent full, a local official told AFP.

He drinks only a “modest” amount of alcohol, a local report said.

Kimura’s motto in life is “to eat light and live long,” said the official. Read more of this post

Fitch sees gold prices falling over next 2-3 years

Published: Friday April 19, 2013 MYT 12:39:00 PM

Fitch sees gold prices falling over next 2-3 years

KUALA LUMPUR: Fitch Ratings sees gold prices falling over the next two to three years as sentiment towards the metal changes.

“While prices could recover quickly if worries over the eurozone rise further, our base case is for prices to fall over the next two or three years,” it said on Friday.

The international ratings agency said reports that Cyprus could sell a significant volume of gold may have triggered the sharp drop in prices, “but we believe the fall represents a changing sentiment towards the metal”.

Fitch said changes of this type tend to have a snowball effect as investors head for the exit, and “we therefore expect prices to continue falling over the next two or three years”.

However, it said this trend could be temporarily reversed, if investors become more concerned about the outlook for the eurozone. Read more of this post

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