I woke up this morning to the news on BBC that a famed South African singer has resurrected from the dead after a fancy funeral in 2009. He was apparently captured by zombies, imprisoned in a cave, and forced to eat mud to survive. The family have told everyone that it’s him. The crowd that gathered for his unveiling near his home village was pushed back by police with water cannons. Crazy? Perhaps. Sometimes, I am reminded that cultural prejudice is a tough one to overcome: one man’s faith is another man’s fairytale. But still – I eagerly await the DNA test results. And I can’t help but think that the family could do with some liquidity injection. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16905521.
- In entirely unsurprising news, the Greeks are delaying http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-06/papademos-meets-creditors-as-sacrifice-looms-for-greece-to-stay-in-euro.html. Every morning, this gives me an opportunity to harp on a little more. If you’ve read the article, and are wondering why the Greeks need to legislate job cuts (surely SURELY you could just fire the excess?) – the answer to that question is constitutional. Article 103 of the Greek Constitution: Item 2: “No one may be appointed to a post not provided by law”; Item 4: “Civil servants holding posts provided by law shall be permanent so long as these posts exist”, and dismissal requires “a decision of a service council consisting of at least two-thirds of permanent civil servants”. http://www.hri.org/docs/syntagma/artcl120.html#A104. Once employed by the State, Greeks are effectively constitutionally entitled to always be employed by the State. It’s absurd. How much of the labour force is actually employed in the public sector? Most journalists seems to say about a third. A really good article on the Greek public sector employment appeared some time ago in the Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/charlemagne/2010/03/empathy_short_supply.
- American farmers are planning to plant their biggest crop since 1984 in order to take advantage of high prices. I can’t help thinking that farmers do well for themselves. They sell their crops long before they plant them. And then they take out weather insurance on the crop. Gone are the days where you worried too much about the rain. Perhaps we should all go to Iowa to plant soybeans. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-07/farmers-plan-biggest-u-s-crop-boost-since-1984-led-by-corn-commodities.html.
- The markets are still quite excited by the Glencore-Xstrata merger. The combined company is set to be the biggest zinc, lead and thermal coal exporter in the world. http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6352522737625176777#editor/target=post;postID=3969027086030403289. I would guess that there is also excitement because the merger season for an industry always seems to start with one big deal.
- The American states are almost all signed on to a mortgage accord between themselves and the five banks involved in the talks. I keep reading these articles and still not quite understanding what the point of the accord is. But it seems to revolve around the banks agreeing that they did things wrong, and setting “requirements for how the banks conduct foreclosures, provide mortgage refinancings for underwater borrowers (people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth) and both fund loan principal reductions and make payments to states and borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure”. But everyone can still sue the banks. I come back to my theory about Americans in election years. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-06/banks-in-mortgage-deal-are-said-to-demand-new-york-mers-lawsuit-be-dropped.html.
- Randgold is talking about expanding into Congo. After 2011’s 259% increase in profits, I’m sure they need to spend the money somewhere. And that’s my “Africa is the place” punt. http://www.abndigital.com/page/news/top-business-stories/1163100-Randgold-eyes-Congo-prospects-as-profit-soars.