Good morning

The headlines:

  1. The Greek see-sawing continues as the EU leaders cancel today’s scheduled meeting and insist that the Greek government do more. If you’re bored of reading it – let me tell you how bored I am of writing it. I’m afraid that I can’t tell if the EU leaders are over-stepping their bargaining power – or if the Greeks managed to pass a law that didn’t meet the requirements that they had originally committed to. I think the latter – as the sticking point still seems to be the €325 million in budget cuts that we were talking about last week, and the commitment from the opposition parties to enforce austerity post elections. Tiresome. Link: Greece struggles to win aid package. I see that officials are still talking about Greece leaving the Eurozone. My question from the “leaving the euro” post still is: how? 
  2. China says it wants to help the EU – “at some point”, is largely the way I read this article: China Pledges to Invest in EU Bailouts. It sounds like China will only invest once the EU reaches internal consensus and commits to economic reform (even – shows signs of economic reform?). China is also calling for more “lucrative products” that appeal to Chinese investors. Until then, they remain “positive”. Forgive me: but telling me that you’ll invest once things look good and if there are products that are lucrative? That’s like me extending an offer to eat at my mother’s once she’s cooked dinner, provided that I like the smell of it and it looks appetising. But maybe I’m a cynic. At least my mother would know that she’s cooking for someone!
  3. Everyone is very excited by Obama meeting Xi Jinping (the Chinese leader-in-waiting). I’ve never quite understood how these meetings lead to actual policy decisions – but I’m not a political scientist. It may have something to do with official stance and what the visit represents. But I don’t see China committing to anything over tea, biscuits and a flashlit chat: like the current trade deficit, or the propping up of the renminbi, or the Chinese position on Syria. But here’s hoping it does. Xi is, after all, being taken on a visit to a farm in Iowa. Link: Obama greets China’s Xi.
  4. Yahoo-Alibaba talks to dispose of a significant portion of their Asian assets have broken-down. Poor Yahoo never quite seems to catch a break, does it? This has all turned into a fight between the majority shareholders and directors with multiple changes in management. But it does occur to me that I haven’t visited the yahoo webpage in years. Crazy. I remember when yahoo mail was cool. But I suppose I also remember what the dial-up internet tone sounds like – though a revisit would really just be nostalgic, not a commitment. Link: Yahoo-Alibaba talks at impasse.
  5. The banks and heads thereof are publicly debating the Volcker Rule. This is going to be the topic of a future post – but basically, the Volcker rule is intended to correct the incentive process in financial institutions. The current bank employees are obviously against it. The former bank employees are quite strongly in favour. The Volker Rule comes from a section of the Dodd-Frank Act. The article link: Ex-Citigroup CEO says Volcker Rule needs strict penalties.
  6. There are whispers of Collusion in the setting of LIBOR rates. LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) is the rate at which London banks lend to each other. It is used as the benchmark against which most international agencies set their interest rates (for example, I’m paying LIBOR plus 2% on this swap agreement). It’s meant to be market-determined, so collusion would be very naughty indeed (as customers would be paying higher rates than the free-market would require). Lots of banks are refusing to comment. Link: LIBOR probe to expose collusion.
  7. And the Africa News in brief. Link: ABN Business Briefs. The key points:
    • Kenyan inflation is dropping thanks to tightened monetary policy. The rate now sits at around 18.3%.
    • Coffee prices in Tanzania are up. Interesting (to me) just because it’s coffee.
    • Spar and Mondi are reporting large increases in profits and volumes.
    • BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are expanding mining operations.
    • The Glenstrata deal is hitting a hitch as some of the Xstrata shareholders push for a higher premium.
Have a great Wednesday!