Facebook considers adding profile photos to facial recognition

Facebook considers adding profile photos to facial recognition

12:17pm EDT

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc is considering incorporating most of its 1 billion-plus members’ profile photos into its growing facial recognition database, expanding the scope of the social network’s controversial technology. The possible move, which Facebook revealed in an update to its data use policy on Thursday, is intended to improve the performance of its “Tag Suggest” feature. The feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labeling or “tagging” friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posted on the network. Read more of this post

Even Cord Cutters Will Have to Pay the Cable Bill; Viable online TV products may thwart Internet service providers’ new push toward usage-based prici

Even Cord Cutters Will Have to Pay the Cable Bill

By Joshua Brustein August 22, 2013

Internet television finally seems nigh. ESPN (DIS) on Wednesday said it has held introductory discussions to offer its channels through Web-based TV services. That comes on the heels of news that Sony (SNE) had reached a preliminary Internet distribution deal with Viacom (VIAB) and that Google (GOOG) was talking to the NFL about buying the rights to its Sunday Ticket package. And, of course, the reports of Apple TV (AAPL) persist. Read more of this post

China Cosco Sells Offirce Property Assets to Parent to Avoid Delisting; Shipping Company’s Outlook Remains Uncertain Amid Prolonged Global Shipping Downturn

August 29, 2013, 12:31 p.m. ET

China Cosco Sells Assets to Avoid Delisting

Shipping Company’s Outlook Remains Uncertain Amid Prolonged Global Shipping Downturn

JOANNE CHIU

HONG KONG—China Cosco Holdings Co. 601919.SH +4.62% agreed to sell most of its stakes in two office properties in China to its state-run parent, the third asset sale this year as part of the shipping company’s plans to return to a profit next year. The 3.73 billion yuan (US$609.4 million) sale, plans for which were reported earlier in August, were announced as the shipping company on Thursday posted a narrower first-half net loss. Read more of this post

China’s big banks: Giant reality-check; Four of the world’s biggest lenders must face some nasty truths

China’s big banks: Giant reality-check; Four of the world’s biggest lenders must face some nasty truths

Aug 31st 2013 |From the print edition

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“CHINA’S banks are not real banks,” says Andrew Rothman of CLSA, a broker recently acquired by China’s CITIC Securities. The country’s biggest financial institutions are so closely held by the state that they are, in effect, arms of the treasury. Cosseted by rules that protect them from competition, they deliver huge profits in good times: bank profits as a share of China’s economic output equalled nearly 3% last year, whereas the highest ratio achieved in recent decades by American banks was only 1% of GDP (in 2006). In bad times the state is there to clean up, just as it did during a surge in dud loans in 1990s. Read more of this post

China’s Banking Thriller Is Missing Pages; It’s what investors can’t see that should worry them more

Updated August 29, 2013, 9:10 p.m. ET

China’s Banking Thriller Is Missing Pages

AARON BACK

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The most recent earnings for China’s banks depict a financial system under rising but manageable strain. It’s what investors can’t see that should worry them more.

The quarter to June showed nonperforming loans rising at many of China’s banks. And loans that are merely overdue, even if not yet technically nonperforming, grew at an even brisker clip. At state-owned China Construction Bank601939.SH +0.24% for instance, overdue loans rose by 21% from the end of last year to June. At smaller, non-state-owned China Minsheng Banking,600016.SH -0.22% overdue loans rose 47% in the first half. Read more of this post

China prepares to ditch cotton stockpiling, wider reform looms; With 60 percent of world cotton stocks held in Chinese state reserves, changes to a scheme that has cost at least $33 billion could hit prices hard

China prepares to ditch cotton stockpiling, wider reform looms

5:55pm EDT

By Dominique Patton and Niu Shuping

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is preparing the ground to scrap a controversial scheme to stockpile cotton in favor of subsidizing farmers, a move that could slash imports by the world’s top buyer of the fiber and herald a broad shakeup of Beijing’s sensitive farm policies. Abandoning stockpiling would mark the end of a system that has distorted the market to such a degree that it has been cheaper for Chinese mills to import cotton grown abroad than to buy domestic produce. Read more of this post

Chinese Banks Worry Bad Loans Could Rise; Slower Economic Growth, Borrower Overcapacity Weigh on Asset Quality

August 29, 2013, 12:29 p.m. ET

Chinese Banks Worry Bad Loans Could Rise

Slower Economic Growth, Borrower Overcapacity Weigh on Asset Quality

DINNY MCMAHON

BEIJING—Chinese bank executives signaled concern that bad loans could rise, as earnings continued to slow in the face of declining economic growth. China’s biggest bank by assets, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. 601988.SH +0.38% said Thursday its first-half net profit rose 12.4% from a year earlier to 138.35 billion yuan ($22.62 billion). Bank President Yi Huiman said the bank would remain cautious against a potential pickup in bad loans after its non-performing loan ratio increased marginally over the first half of the year.

Read more of this post

Don’t count on China’s central bank to bail out its banks

Don’t count on China’s central bank to bail out its banks

By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros 6 hours ago

China’s banks are increasingly nervous that some of the $18 trillion in outstanding loans (paywall) on their books won’t be paid back, as the Wall Street Journal (paywall) reported today. That’s despite the fact that the country’s official recording of bad loans is still at an extremely healthy level. As of June, non-performing loans (NPLs), as they’re called, made up only 0.96% of total lending, a slight increase from 0.95% in June 2012. Read more of this post

China’s Rich Want Their Say on Policy Reform

China’s Rich Want Their Say on Policy Reform

By Shai Oster August 29, 2013

Pan Shiyi is a real estate tycoon whose company Soho China has built some of the most fashionable developments in the country. Pan has a political side, too, which he expresses in a blog followed by 16 million Chinese. After Pan posted a call for increased transparency on how authorities monitor pollution, the governments of Beijing and 73 other cities started releasing more daily pollution data. He was also invited to tour the offices of the environmental protection agency for Beijing after a heated online exchange with its spokesman. Read more of this post

Scare or no scare, customers have little choice but Fonterra

Scare or no scare, customers have little choice but Fonterra

4:53pm EDT

By Naomi Tajitsu and Adam Jourdan

WELLINGTON/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – However much China and other big customers strive to rely less on Fonterra after a global food contamination scare this month – now downscaled to a ‘false alarm’ – the New Zealand firm’s grip on the global dairy trade is unlikely to be loosened. While many countries such as India, China and the United States produce more milk, New Zealand, a small island nation of 4.5 million people, exports more than 90 percent of its output and controls a third of the global dairy trade. Most of those exports from what is dubbed the ‘Saudi Arabia of milk’ come from Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd (FSF.NZ: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz), which is owned by its 10,500 farmer suppliers. Read more of this post

Luxury mooncakes lose attraction amid frugality drive

Luxury mooncakes lose attraction amid frugality drive

English.news.cn   2013-08-29

BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Luxury mooncakes that used to raise eyebrows because of their cost have rarely been seen ahead of this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival due to China’s anti-extravagance campaign. “We usually would have sold mooncakes worth half a million yuan by this time in previous years, but this year we have only netted tens of thousands of yuan,” complained Li Aihua, who owns an online mooncake franchise shop in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province. “Few people are interested in mooncake gift packages worth 500 yuan (81 U.S. dollars) or above, while purchases by government organizations in large quantities are hardly seen anymore,” Li said. Read more of this post

Leading Chinese vineyards are constructing chateaus at a furious pace as they strive to catch up with world-famous premium wineries whose products are pouring into the nation, sparking concerns of a boom that may go bust

Vineyards pour billions into chateaus

Updated: 2013-08-30 01:23

By Ju Chuanjiang and Zhao Ruixue in Yantai, Shandong (China Daily)

Leading Chinese vineyards are constructing chateaus at a furious pace as they strive to catch up with world-famous premium wineries whose products are pouring into the nation, sparking concerns of a boom that may go bust. There are already more than 160 chateaus in China, and about 200 more are under construction.

Read more of this post

Chinese find M&A deals hard to clinch

August 29, 2013 5:48 pm

Chinese find M&A deals hard to clinch

By Henny Sender

Yet flows into real estate are an easier target

The sale of AIG’s aviation leasing business to a Chinese group is now close to collapse, signalling the implosion of yet another Chinese bid to control such assets — the third in just a few years. When Chinese groups show up at auctions these days, the response is more scepticism than celebration. In this case, the Chinese buying group fell apart. In other cases, involving potential purchasers ranging from obscure groups to well-known banks, either approvals or financing or the prevailing fear of overpaying were factors. Read more of this post

Banks in China: Too big to hail; China’s banking behemoths are too beholden to the state. It is time to set finance free

Banks in China: Too big to hail; China’s banking behemoths are too beholden to the state. It is time to set finance free

Aug 31st 2013 |From the print edition

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AT FIRST sight, China seems to have a superb banking system. Its state-controlled banks, among the biggest and most profitable in the world, have negligible levels of non-performing loans and are well capitalised. That appears to suggest that the country’s approach should be applauded. Read more of this post

Austerity Test Looms as Abbott Pledges Cuts in Slowing Australia

Austerity Test Looms as Abbott Pledges Cuts in Slowing Australia

Tony Abbott as health minister gave an “iron-clad” guarantee not to reduce government assistance for medical bills before the 2004 election. Soon after the vote, he buckled when the Cabinet dumped his pledge as too costly. Nine years later, as front-runner heading into Australia’s Sept. 7 election, Abbott’s policy resolve soon may be challenged again, this time across the world’s 12th biggest economy. His Liberal-National coalition’s plan to cut taxes and red tape, outlined in a telephone interview yesterday, will run up against 11-year high unemployment and record sovereign debt. Read more of this post

Krugman: The Unsaved World: Why don’t we learn from financial crises? As Asian currencies fall and crisis strikes, we seem to be making the same mistakes made in the ’90s

August 29, 2013

The Unsaved World

By PAUL KRUGMAN

The rupiah is falling! Head for the hills! On second thought, keep calm and carry on.

In case you’re wondering, the rupiah is the national currency of Indonesia, and, like many other emerging-market currencies, it has fallen a lot over the past few months. The thing is, the last big rupiah plunge was in 1997-98, when Indonesia was the epicenter of an Asian financial crisis. In retrospect, that crisis was a sort of dress rehearsal for the much bigger crisis that engulfed the advanced world a decade later. So should we be terrified about Asia all over again? Read more of this post

Martin Feldstein: US Interest Rates Will Continue to Rise

US Interest Rates Will Continue to Rise

Martin Feldstein

28 August 2013

CAMBRIDGE – Six months ago, I wrote that long-term interest rates in the United States would rise, causing bond prices to fall by so much that an investor who owned ten-year Treasury bonds would lose more from the decline in the value of the bond than he would gain from the difference between the bonds’ interest rate and the interest rates on short-term money funds or bank deposits. That warning has already proved to be correct. The interest rate on ten-year Treasury bonds has risen almost a full percentage point since February, to 2.72%, implying a loss of nearly 10% in the price of the bond. Read more of this post

Indonesia Faces Rupiah Test After Rate Move on Record Deficit

Indonesia Faces Rupiah Test After Rate Move on Record Deficit

Indonesia’s interest-rate increase yesterday helped the rupiah climb for the first time this week. To sustain that gain, the country needs to curb a record current-account gap that’s making it vulnerable to persistent pressure on emerging-market currencies. Bank Indonesia increased the benchmark reference rate to 7 percent from 6.5 percent, it said, after a meeting in Jakarta yesterday that came before the next scheduled policy review. It also raised the deposit facility rate by half a percentage point to 5.25 percent, and extended a bilateral swap deal with the Bank of Japan valued at $12 billion that will allow the two to borrow from each other’s foreign-exchange reserves. Read more of this post

Bank Indonesia’s Mulligan; If Jakarta’s central bankers lack resolve to defend the rupiah, reserves are no defense

Updated August 29, 2013, 3:55 p.m. ET

Bank Indonesia’s Mulligan

If Jakarta’s central bankers lack resolve to defend the rupiah, reserves are no defense.

Bank Indonesia stepped into the breach Thursday with a 50-basis-point increase in its main policy interest rate. For the moment at least that has stanched the flight from the rupiah, which lost 9% of its value this month and 4.4% last week. The local stock market, which is down more than 20% from its peak in May, also stabilized. Tightening was the right move. But the question is whether the market is convinced Bank Indonesia has the fortitude and independence to lead rather than react. That’s because at its regular Aug. 15 meeting the central bank flinched from a rate hike and instead tightened reserve ratios. After the market delivered a negative verdict, it reversed course at Thursday’s emergency meeting. Now it must convince investors that it learned from the mistake. Read more of this post

The rupee has fallen so far so fast that not even technical analysts can divine the currency’s future.

Updated: Friday August 30, 2013 MYT 9:08:16 AM

The rupee has fallen so far so fast

MUMBAI/HONG KONG: The rupee has fallen so far so fast that not even technical analysts can divine the currency’s future. The chartists, as these analysts are also known, are struggling to make sense of a currency that is now firmly in territory that is uncharted. Strategists said that technical factors did not count for much in crisis situations in which investors were fleeing markets and the fact that the rupee was at record low levels compounded the problem because making comparisons with past price patterns was impossible. The rupee has consistently fallen below all reasonable technical targets since breaking its then record low of 57.32 to the dollar on June 10. The rupee is now at 66.55 and heading towards 70.00. Read more of this post

Rupee crash forces Indian holidaymakers to ditch Italy for Goa

Rupee crash forces Indian holidaymakers to ditch Italy for Goa

6:43pm EDT

By Aditi Shah

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian rupee’s crash has swept away banker Nupur Sood’s dream of a holiday in Venice: instead the 35-year-old will settle for cold beers on the beaches of Goa on India’s west coast. “We are pampering ourselves with a leisurely holiday but it will be domestic. I guess it is the only way to compensate,” said Sood, who plans to stay next month at the plush Grand Hyatt hotel in Goa, managed by Hyatt Hotels Corp, as a consolation for missing her holiday of a lifetime in Italy. Read more of this post

Corporate culture shock for India’s Congress; Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is trying to bring corporate management to the 128-year- old party rooted in tradition that usually resists change

Corporate culture shock for India’s Congress

Friday, August 30, 2013 – 03:00

Nirmala Ganapathy

The Straits Times

INDIA – Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is trying to bring corporate management to the 128-year- old party rooted in tradition that usually resists change. Since taking over as the party’s second in command seven months ago, the 43-year-old politician has introduced questionnaires for state leaders, a colour grading system to gauge performance and quarterly reviews to see if state units are meeting targets like shortlisting potential candidates for the 2014 general election. Read more of this post

Eurozone is heading for relapse back into crisis

August 28, 2013 10:30 am

Eurozone is heading for relapse back into crisis

By Satyajit Das

Weaknesses will be exposed as markets test ECB policy

Since mid-2012, the European financial crisis has been in remission, with the symptoms of the underlying disease temporarily suppressed. A combination of austerity programmes, debt writedowns, the European Central Bank’s commitment to “do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, the proposed banking union and the finalisation of the European Stability Mechanism, the primary bailout fund, helped restore relative financial stability. Interest rates fell in peripheral countries and stock markets rallied, without any recovery in the real economy. As treatment is discontinued or loses efficacy, there is a high probability of a relapse. Read more of this post

Nintendo Stands by Videogame Strategy; Company Brushes Back Criticism of Limiting Titles to Its Own Consoles

August 29, 2013, 7:15 p.m. ET

Nintendo Stands by Videogame Strategy

Company Brushes Back Criticism of Limiting Titles to Its Own Consoles

DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI

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TOKYO—Nintendo Co. 7974.TO -4.98% is hoping players like Yukiyo Sugiyama will continue to drive sales as the company sticks to a policy of only allowing its videogames to be played on its consoles. The 42-year-old office worker in Tokyo said she doesn’t play videogames or have much interest in them, except for one: Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” series. The newest edition of the cartoonish life-simulation game is only available on Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held device, so Ms. Sugiyama paid ¥23,000, or $235, for the machine preloaded with the title. “I only bought a 3DS so I can play ‘Animal Crossing,’ ” said Ms. Sugiyama, who regularly played “Animal Crossing: Wild World,” a 2005 version for the Nintendo DS. Read more of this post

Takafumi Horie’s comeback; The controversial entrepreneur remains popular, brash and ambitious

Takafumi Horie’s comeback; The controversial entrepreneur remains popular, brash and ambitious

Aug 31st 2013 | TOKYO |From the print edition

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IN 2005 Takafumi Horie, then president of Livedoor, an internet firm, joined the X PRIZE Foundation, a charity which gives cash for innovative projects such as space tourism. Joining forces with the likes of Larry Page and Elon Musk, co-founders of Google and PayPal respectively, was a typically bold move by the self-styled boy billionaire from Fukuoka. Instead of going into orbit, however, Mr Horie went behind bars. He was arrested in Japan’s biggest financial scandal of the decade. Now, however, he is out on parole, and says he will soon launch a low-cost space-tourism business using a Russian capsule. He has completed several test launches. A large Japanese firm is on the verge of sponsoring a flight next year, he says. Other investors, he claims, are standing by. Read more of this post

Mazda says it has come up with innovations in nearly every step of auto manufacturing for a super-efficient assembly line that rolls off vehicles at a stunning rate of one every 54 seconds

Mazda unveils innovative, super-fast assembly plant

AP

AUG 28, 2013

HOFU, YAMAGUCHI PREF. – Mazda, a longtime also-ran among Japanese automakers, says it has come up with innovations in nearly every step of auto manufacturing for a super-efficient assembly line that rolls off vehicles at a stunning rate of one every 54 seconds. The revamped Hofu plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture shown to reporters Tuesday underlines how Mazda Motor Corp. has defied skeptics who predicted the automaker’s demise after Ford Motor Co. ended a long partnership. Read more of this post

Entrepreneurs in Japan: Time to get started; Shinzo Abe is giving new hope to Japan’s unappreciated entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in Japan: Time to get started; Shinzo Abe is giving new hope to Japan’s unappreciated entrepreneurs

Aug 31st 2013 | TOKYO |From the print edition

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“IT BEGINS from now,” tweeted Takafumi Horie, the former boss of Livedoor, an internet firm, two months after emerging from prison this spring. Mr Horie is involved in no fewer than 30 new companies, including a space-tourism venture. If any of them grow to be big, Mr Horie, who was convicted of fraud in 2011, may show that a fallen Japanese entrepreneur can make a comeback. Read more of this post

Surrounded by Turmoil, Korea Faces Midlife Crisis

Surrounded by Turmoil, Korea Faces Midlife Crisis

As economists scour the earth for clues on which country is headed for a crash next, should they be worrying about South Korea (KOSPI)?

An oddly timed question, perhaps, given Korea’s resilience compared with its Asian compatriots. Even if the region is not on the verge of a 1997-style meltdown, scary drops in the Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah, Malaysian ringgit and Thai stocks are fueling anxieties almost everywhere. Korea is a rare exception: It has a current-account surplus equal to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product, a well-performing won that the International Monetary Fund says is undervalued, and expectations for 4 percent growth in 2014. Read more of this post

Cash-strapped Korean chaebol Tongyang makes risky bets

2013-08-29 18:52

Tongyang makes risky bets

By Kim Tae-jong

Cash-strapped Tongyang Group is facing mounting criticism as its efforts to keep afloat through bond issuance have put tens of thousands of small investors at risk.
The group, headed by Chairman Hyun Jae-hyun, has continued to issue corporate bills and bonds that could become scrap paper if, in the worst case scenario, the group files for bankruptcy as a result of a delay in restructuring. Read more of this post

Singapore’s Fraser & Neave Faces Tussle in Myanmar; Military-Controlled Partner Wants to Take Over Brewery Venture

August 29, 2013, 11:07 a.m. ET

Singapore Firm Faces Tussle in Myanmar

Fraser & Neave Says Military-Controlled Partner Wants to Take Over Brewery Venture

CHUN HAN WONG and SHIBANI MAHTANI

SINGAPORE—Fraser & Neave Ltd. F99.SG -0.87% said its partner in a Myanmar brewery is attempting to gain control of their joint venture, a move that could dislodge the Singaporean conglomerate from one of Southeast Asia’s most promising economies. The spat highlights the risk of doing business with Myanmar’s state-owned enterprises and could damp confidence of investors seeking opportunities in a country still emerging from decades of secrecy and isolation under military rule. The dispute is over Myanmar Brewery Ltd., which serves 83% of the Myanmar market. Fraser & Neave, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, owns 55% of the brewery. The rest is owned by the military-controlled Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. Read more of this post

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