Good morning

The headlines:

  1. Officials begin publicly discussing Greece’s Euro Exit. Mostly, just the German minister saying “if Greece wants to go, we can’t make her stay”. And an analyst saying that they’re already out politically – now it’s just a question of timing and orderliness. Oh, and the guy from Luxembourg saying that it will be “very, very painful for the people”. All my Greek Nationalist “friends” will no doubt read conspiratorial threat into those words. And more than that, the ensuing chaos in Greece when she leaves the euro will be seen as some Germanic retribution rather than the eventual meltdown that follows a mass economic suicide. Ah well. Blame and consequence are not the same thing. Link: The Airing of Doubt.
  2. Investors start to expect QE3. That’s after two economists from big institutions (one of which was Goldman) made the report on the same day. So if we weren’t expecting it before, we are now. Sometimes, I look at these guys and wonder if they don’t make these announcements to get a little more volatility into the market. But this is skepticism talking – I’m finally reading “When Genius Failed”, and I’m reminded of how many people put faith in the Black-Scholes option pricing formula, and how it rewards higher volatility through the higher pricing of options. But back to the QE3 story – the “improved” US indicators are not as good as they looked earlier in the year – and it’s an election year. So some monetary stimulus in June may not be off the cards. Link: Floating America’s boat.
  3. US millionaires turned away from Foreign Banks. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was telling me about his new bank account in a tax haven. The interesting part was him telling me that the lady at the counter was so relieved that he wasn’t American, because the Americans are “a nightmare”. And not for the obvious reason – but because of the rigmarole around their new tax laws. About a month later: Bloomberg has wind of it. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA(T)). Bad for Americans attempting to avoid tax everywhere by placing the compliance burden on the banks. Mostly – we can blame UPS, who began this by blowing a whistle or something. Anyway – the point is, many foreign banks are now refusing to do business with US expats. Link: The Unexpected Consequences of Tax Evasion Rules.
  4. EFSF release of 5.2 billion euros for Greece. I thought that this wasn’t meant to happen until the elections were sorted? Link: So they’re getting the money anyway?
  5. Coca-Cola takes on New York City. NYC has had subway ads for years (apparently) linking soft-drinks to fat in a campaign to reduce sugar consumption. The American Beverage Association is upset because the campaign singles out a particular product over the array of culprits (MacDonalds, Krispy Kreme, Oreos, etc). The new Coke and Pepsi subway campaigns now “tout” low cal. options on the inside of railcars. Did you know that drinking three 20-ounce sodas is the equivalent of consuming 40 packets of sugar? New Yorkers do. Whether they know the size of that sugar packet, or what an ounce is, I’m not sure. But now they also know that Coke and Pepsi can find a different option for them that’s not equivalent to as many bags of sugar. Or something like that. Link: Subway Fat Fight
  6. Obama says same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. He finally came out and said it. Pun intended. In 2007, he was against it. Since then, his view has been “evolving”. Now he’s changed his mind. The justification for the change was, get this, “the troops”. Which, frankly, is an impressive leap of logic: something about watching the youtube videos of military men and women getting home to their partners. The Romney campaign has heralded the announcement as a “gift”. Does anyone else think it’s stupid that your average evangelical is so concerned about the private lives and tax-planning considerations of individuals that they have almost no interaction with? They need to calm down. And deal with their credit and obesity issues. Link: Obama has evolved.
  7. China investing in Africa over Europe. Anything but Europe? Link: Bang for the buck.
  8. Al-Jazeera shuts Beijing Bureau. Link: After China denies a reporter her visa.
That’s all for now!
Have a good day.