What you may have missed in the business news last week:

1. October 17th is on Thursday.

And everyone is still posturing. Although the Republicans have mentioned the possibility of a short-term debt ceiling raise; and Obama has said that he’s open to it.

39% of Americans think that not raising the debt ceiling is just fine. As in: no serious economic consequences. And that can’t just be the rich talking, because they’re only the top 1%.

One can’t help but wonder how informed the American public really is. I mean – yes, I agree that China, Japan and the oil-producing countries have no real alternative but to invest their trade surpluses in American government debt. But Germany also had no real alternative but to support Greece. And look what the debtor nation got to demand.

Unfortunately, defaults have consequences.

2. Greek Corruption and a Conviction.

Speaking of Greece, there was fairly massive corruption conviction last week. Akis Tsochatzopoulos was defence minister from 1996 to 2001, and has now been found guilty of accepting millions of euros in bribes while negotiating arms deals (he’s already in prison for submitting false tax declarations – false because they omitted said bribe income).

He was convicted alongside his wife, ex-wife and daughter, who helped him launder the money.

The sentencing is tomorrow.

He was a member of the Greek government for 30 years.

3. Victor Maduro gets even more entertaining.

On Tuesday last week, the bus driver asked parliament to grant him the right to rule by decree for the next 12 months, in order to “unfold a permanent offensive against the corrupt and their backers”.

I’m not sure how “12 months” suddenly became “permanent” – but I imagine that’s how it’ll go.

Venezuelan inflation reached 45.4% in August (they’re almost at hyperinflation by the Cagan definition – and they’re definitely there by any other measure). They have (they claim) the largest oil reserves in the world. And yet, their economy is a giant fail.

Here’s Victor Maduro falling off a bicycle on live television and causing a general crash:


It’s the trouble with people that can’t drive. It’s not so much that they’re a hazard to themselves – it’s that they’re a danger to everyone else.

4. Walmart abandons India.

On October 9th, Walmart announced that its Indian partner, Bharti Enterprises, was no longer its partner. The head of Walmart Asia mumbled something about “investment conditions” and the Indian law requiring foreign retailers to source 30% of their products from small and medium sized Indian businesses. And done.

The Businessweek article that I linked to above was interesting. Walmart has tried and failed to enter Germany, Russia, India and South Korea – all four are quite major economies, and yet…

For all the talk about big business and American consumerism taking over the world, local culture does not seem so easy to push over. I think that’s a good thing.

5. Welcome the new $100 bill.

To mark the 100th birthday of the $100 bill, we got a new one with blue strips and bells. It’s quite pretty, and I wanted to post a good picture of it, but then I read some rules about currency image usage, and thought rather not. Here’s small picture from the website:

If you want to see more, here’s the link.