Happy Valentines Day!

The headlines:
  1. Moody’s has announced a negative outlook for the credit ratings of France, Austria and the UK. The ratings agency also downgraded Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta. The markets, however, appear to be ignoring them. Link: Rating Downgrade. For a fuller explanation of ratings agencies and downgrades, click here
  2. In response to their economic contraction, the Bank of Japan has increased its monetary easing measures. While interest rates remain unchanged, the BOJ increased its asset-purchase program from 55 trillion yen to 65 trillion yen. Apart from hopefully stimulating growth, the added inflation should weaken the Yen, giving Japan temporary competitive advantage for its export-driven economy. If the yen continues to strengthen as it has recently, more quantitative easing is expected. Link: BOJ announces monetary easing.
  3. Obama’s budget called for higher taxes on the rich, as expected. The proposal was immediately condemned as re-electionary rhetoric by industry leaders and Congressional Republicans. So nothing will really change then. Link: Obama aims tax increase at highest earners.
  4. In emerging markets news, Carlsberg (the world’s fourth largest brewer) is looking at expansion into China. It’s always quite fun to watch the expansion plans of brewers like SABMiller and Carlsberg. Not just because they make beer – but also because their business plans are often way ahead of the crowd. For example, it’s said that Standard Bank has modelled its African expansion on SABMiller’s. Quite a statement. Link: Carlsberg looking for Chinese Acquisitions.
  5. Google’s Motorola bid has been approved by both the US and the EU. Apparently, the deal is just waiting on approval from China, Taiwan and Israel. Link: Google-Motorola wins Antitrust Approval.
  6. Brussels welcomed Greece’s parliamentary approval of austerity measures. The European Commission is set to approve the bailout package tomorrow. Link: European Leaders “Confident”.
  7. And the African Business News in brief: ABN Business News. Key points:
    • Rockstar Bob Geldorf has raised $200million for his African Private Equity Fund. 
    • Zambia is inviting tenders for a Eurobond issue. The Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda says that the issue size may be increased due to “high investor appetite for high-yielding frontier debt”.
    • A recently-tested deep-sea oil well off Angola is said to “exceed expectations” (?).
    • Sudan’s central bank has been selling off its gold reserves in order to maintain the Sudan pound.
    • Burkina Faso has fined all three of its mobile phone operators for failure to fulfil service requirements. The regulatory board has said that there will be no right of appeal.
Have a good Tuesday.