Long, long collection today, again because we were a tad under the weather Friday, so let’s get right to it. And don’t forget, after the jump we’ve got the latest Greek mayhem, news from Latin America and Asia, plus the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!
We begin with a warning from CNBC:
Playing with fire? Margin debt most since crisis
As investors feel emboldened by the seemingly unstoppable stock market rally, they’re borrowing money at record levels to keep things going.
Margin debt—a measure of how much market participants are borrowing to buy stocks—has soared to $412.5 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. The number represents a 13.2 percent gain from the beginning of 2013 and is fully 50 percent higher than the level in January 2012.
CNBC again, with a skewed perspective:
Rosier view for the wealthy boosts consumer sentiment
U.S. consumer sentiment rose in November as wealthier Americans’ outlook on the economy improved, a survey released on Wednesday showed.
From the Los Angeles Times, bubbles brewing:
Silicon Beach housing prices surge as techies move in
Home prices in Santa Monica, Venice Beach and surrounding areas have risen sharply this year, pricing even some tech workers out of that Westside market.
Amid last decade’s housing bubble, the median home price in Silicon Beach — the area west of the 405 Freeway from Santa Monica south to Marina del Rey — peaked at $925,000 in the second quarter of 2007 before plummeting 25% to $694,000 in the first three months of 2010, according to research firm DataQuick.
But Silicon Beach prices have risen sharply this year. The median price in that area reached $952,500 last quarter, 19.2% higher than in the same period last year.
From Salon, an enlightened message:
Senators blast Wal-Mart “trampling” workers’ rights as dozens of activists are arrested on Black Friday
“It is time that Walmart pays its workers a fair wage and stops trampling on their rights,” say Sherrod Brown et al
No surprise here, via the Washington Post:
Push for minimum wage hike led by localities, Democrats
States and municipalities across the country are leading a localized push to raise the minimum wage, driven largely by Democrats, who see an opening to appeal to working-class Americans at a time of growing inequity.
Efforts in Congress to raise the national minimum wage above $7.25 an hour have stalled. But numerous local governments — including those of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the District — are forging ahead, in some cases voting to dramatically increase the pay of low-wage workers.
My Budget 360 makes it plain:
The average American is broke and buying things they cannot afford with debt again. Debt based consumer financing again filling the gap of a shrinking middle class.
From CNBC, even plainer:
The Fed has created a huge global bubble: Stockman
Former OMB Director David Stockman says the actions of the Fed and central banks around the world have led to a massive bubble, and the end result won’t be pretty. With CNBC’s Jackie DeAngelis and the Futures Now Traders.
The actions of the Federal Reserve have created a massive bubble not just in U.S. stock prices, but in a variety of assets all across the world, contends David Stockman, who served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.
“The Fed is exporting this lunatic policy worldwide,” Stockman said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s asset-purchasing program. “Central banks all over the world have been massively expanding their balance sheets, and as a result of that there are bubbles in everything in the world, asset values are exaggerated everywhere.”
And USA TODAY covers a reverse flow:
Mexican shoppers head to Texas to avoid higher tax
Mexican residents typically account for $4.5 billion in retail sales in Texas counties along the border. That number is likely to jump by $225 million due to the tax hike.
And then there’s annual greed-n-grab orgy, first here in the U.S> via the London Daily Mail:
It’s Black-eye Friday! Man stabbed in row over parking space and shopper shot for his new TV as violent bargain-hunters come to blows
- The rush for Black Friday bargains has resulted in outbreaks of violence as shoppers clash over reduced price goods
- Police in Virginia have reporting a stabbing incident after two men got into a fight in the car park over a space
- In Las Vegas, thief shot shopper in his leg and stole his television, while cops in Chicago shot a man as he scuffled with a police officer
- Shoppers cutting in line sparked a Black Friday Brawl at another Walmart
- Several clips have already appeared on YouTube of the carnage at various Walmart stores
- Some retailers opened their doors as early as 6am on Thanksgiving Day
But the “tradition has metastasized, first to England [via the Daily Mail again]:
Black Friday frenzy: Man arrested as shoppers across the UK fight it out for the best bargains with shelves cleared in just ONE MINUTE
- Male shopper arrested following a row at Asda store in Bristol this morning
- Trouble flared up when man, 35, was told he couldn’t buy two 60-inch TVs
- Frenzied shoppers across the country clear shelves within minutes
- Televisions, DVD players, phones and tablets discounted by up to 70%
- ‘They were like locusts. It was madness,’ one witness said
- ‘It was like a pack of savages looking for a bargain,’ said another
And on to France, via TheLocal.fr:
Black Friday seduces France amid US backlash
Will we soon see thousands of French people lined up in sleeping bags outside stores across Paris the morning after Thanksgiving? The once uniquely American phenomenon is certainly taking off in France. Find out where to find the best bargains on “Vendredi Noir”.
And Spain, via TheLocal.es:
US-style Black Friday retail chaos hits Spain
Spanish shops and department stores are importing the traditional post-Thanksgiving Day ‘sales madness’ seen in the US every year as a way of getting Spanish shoppers to splash out in the lead up to Christmas.
And even Brazil as Xinhua reports:
Consumers embrace “Black Friday” in Brazil
On to Canada, via CBC News:
GDP expands at 2.7% pace in 3rd quarter
Canada’s economic growth was stronger than expected in the third quarter. Statistics Canada says the national gross domestic product grew at a 2.7 per cent annual rate, two-tenths of a point above estimates.
The pace of growth was the fastest in two years, when the economy expanded by 3.5 per cent. For comparison purposes, the U.S. economy is expanding at a 2.8 per cent annual pace.
And on to Europe, first with a regional headline from Bloomberg:
Euro-Area Inflation Holds at Less Than Half ECB Ceiling
Euro-area inflation stayed below 1 percent for a second month, less than half the European Central Bank’s ceiling, underscoring the weakness in parts of the euro region’s economy.
The annual rate rose to 0.9 percent from 0.7 percent in October, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said in a preliminary estimate today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 44 economists was for 0.8 percent. Separately, unemployment unexpectedly dropped to 12.1 percent.
Another from Reuters:
Price growth and jobless fall eases pressure on ECB to act
A pick-up in inflation this month eases pressure on the European Central Bank to act next week, and the first fall in unemployment in almost three years shows a tentative euro zone recovery is gaining traction.
And The Guardian:
Eurozone youth unemployment reaches record high of 24.4%
With 3.58 million under-25s in the euro area jobless in October, youth unemployment is a scar that shows little sign of healing
Here’s the numbers, via Eurostat [PDF]:
In October 2013, 5.657 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU28, of whom 3.577 million were in the euro area. Compared with October 2012 youth unemployment decreased by 29,000 in the EU28, but increased by 15,000 in the euro area. In October 2013, the youth unemployment rate was 23.7% in the EU28 and 24.4% in the euro area, compared with 23.3% and 23.7% respectively in October 2012. In October 2013, the lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.8%), Austria (9.4%) and the Netherlands (11.6%), and the highest in Greece (58.0% in August 2013), Spain (57.4%) and Croatia (52.4% in the third quarter of 2013).
From CNN, advice from across the pond:
General Electric boss to Europe: Open your borders, create jobs
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
Speaking with CNN’s Max Foster, Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, chief executive officer of GE Europe, said: “You have some areas of Europe where unemployment is 30, 40, 50%,” he added, “that drives the thinking that if you go nationalistic you’re going to solve the problem.”
And clouds on the horizon from the London Telegraph:
Student loans: thousands of Europeans ‘failing to repay debts’
The National Audit Office warns that the total university student loans bill will balloon to £200bn within 30 years as it emerges that thousands of EU students are avoiding repayments
Reuters takes us to Britain and bankster greed run riot:
London leads 11 percent jump in bankers earning 1 million euros
More than 3,500 bankers in Europe earned 1 million euros ($1.4 million) or more last year after a big jump across the continent and in Britain, which had 12 times as many high earners as any other country.
Figures from the bloc’s banking regulator on Friday showed that London-based bankers would have easily bust the European Union bonus cap rule coming into effect next year. Bonuses for the highest earners were almost four times fixed pay.
From the London Telegraph, another debt-fueled bubble rapidly inflates:
UK mortgage approvals near six year high in October
Amid renewed concerns that Britain’s economic upturn is being fuelled by debt, Bank of England data yesterday showed total net lending in the UK increased by £1.7bn in October, following an rise of £2.2bn in September. Including mortgage payments, Britons now owe a total of £1.4296 trillion, or around £22,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK. The previous high was £1.4294 trillion in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed.
And the central bankster pronounces, from Bloomberg:
Carney’s Housing Alarm Bell Nudges BOE Toward Stimulus Exit
Mark Carney is moving the Bank of England in a direction it hasn’t taken in more than six years.
The governor took steps yesterday to head off a potential housing bubble by diluting a credit-boosting program, two weeks after raising growth forecasts and signaling interest rates might increase sooner than previously projected. Underpinning the need for the move were data today showing house values at the highest level in more than five years, and banks approving the most mortgages since 2008.
Meanwhile, hints of a divorce in the works from Reuters:
Lawmakers push Britain closer to European Union referendum
Britain took a step towards holding a public vote on whether it should remain in the European Union when members of parliament backed an effort to enshrine the referendum promise in law.
Prime Minister David Cameron is backing the draft legislation as a way to help bridge damaging divides over Europe in his Conservative party. It is also designed to counter the threat of euro-skeptic voters defecting to the anti-EU UK Independence Party at the next general election in 2015.
Rising sentiment from The Observer:
Shock four-country poll reveals widening gulf between Britain and EU
Poll of France, Germany, Poland and the UK shows British hostile to EU, and other nations hostile to Britain
Bloomberg takes us to Iceland and a sensible policy:
Iceland Reveals $1.25 Billion in Mortgage Cuts to Aid Recovery
Iceland has announced plans to write down mortgages linked to inflation by 150 billion kronur ($1.25 billion) to speed the nation’s recovery after economic collapse in 2008.
The government plans to provide homeowners with as much as 70 billion kronur in direct writedowns of home-loan debt and give 80 billion kronur of tax exemptions over three years, according to a statement handed out in Reykjavik today. The deal is equivalent to 9 percent of Iceland’s $14 billion economy.
Norway next, and cramped coolers via TheLocal.no:
Jam-packed jails force Norway to free criminals
Police in northern Norway are being forced to release criminals back onto the streets because of a shortage of prison spaces, the acting head of police in the city of Tromsø warned this week.
Sweden next, and a slowdown via TheLocal.se:
Swedish economy continues to sputter
Swedish economic growth failed to meet expectations in the third quarter of 2013, reaching a meager 0.1 percent compared to the previous quarter, new figures reveal. But the possible effects on the repo rate remain unclear.
Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast quarterly GDP growth of 0.2 percent, while Reuters’ survey revealed analysts expected growth of 0.5 percent.
The Copenhagen Post borders on the costly
Immigration laws render billion kroner investment worthless
Foreign scientists not allowed to work at Swedish facility, despite Denmark paying tenth of the cost to build it
From EurActiv, a Dutch treat:
The Netherlands has the best healthcare in the EU: Survey
The Netherlands has retained its position at the top of the annual Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) which compares healthcare systems in Europe.
On 48 indicators such as patient rights and information, accessibility, prevention and outcomes, the Netherlands secured its top position among 35 European countries for the fourth year in a row, scoring 870 of a maximum 1,000 points.
But DutchNews.nl hints at darker times ahead:
Cancer treatment threatens to become unaffordable (update)
The cost of caring for cancer patients threatens to become unaffordable, leading doctors, economists and patient groups to call for a ceiling on medicine costs, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.
And a Dutch embrace for British Torynoia from DutchNews.nl:
British PM’s calls for EU migration restrictions are ‘interesting’: Asscher
Dutch social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher thinks British calls for limits to EU migration are ‘potentially interesting’ and plans to study them further, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.
British prime minister David Cameron has suggested a raft of measures to limit inter-EU migration ahead of the end of restrictions on people from Bulgaria and Romania at the beginning of next year.
Followed by a Ja Wohl! from Spiegel:
Poverty Migration: Berlin Backs UK’s ‘Benefit Tourism’ Offensive
David Cameron: “Free movement within Europe needs to be less free.”
Germany has now stepped into the UK-triggered fray over introducing new restrictions on migration within the EU. The European Commission is enraged, and even conservative EU parliamentarians warn of pandering to populists.
And a supposition from euronews:
Minimum wage could ‘threaten Germany’s jobs miracle’
The German government’s plan to introduce a nationwide minimum wage has raised concerns among the business community in the eurozone’s most powerful economy. Will the measure hinder as much as it helps?
Quartz finds another cause for concern:
Germans keep losing their jobs with worrying regularity
For those pinning their hopes on a strong German economy to pull the euro zone out of its malaise, some bad news: Germany’s job market is in a bit of a slump.
The number of jobless jumped by 10,000 in November, well above expectations, according to data released today. It was the fourth consecutive monthly rise in the ranks of unemployed; there are now 52,000 more Germans out of work than there were at the start of the year. Some economists worry that the proposed introduction of the country’s first-ever minimum wage will discourage hiring even further.
From Berlin, an opportunity to cool it via RT:
Berlin borough pushing for Germany’s first cannabis coffee-shop
Berlin could soon be enjoying its very own legal marijuana, as the parliament of the trendy and hip Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district voted overwhelmingly in favor of a measure that could see the first legal coffee shop in the country.
After barely a month in office, the then-newly elected Mayor of the area, the Green Party’s Monika Hermann, came up with the idea in September to turn her district into a zone free of cannabis laws, akin to Amsterdam’s coffee shops or Copenhagen’s famed Christiania district.
France next, with an anti-tax action from euronews:
France: Truckers disrupt traffic in green tax revolt
Truckers have been disrupting traffic on major roads across France to demand that a planned green tax be buried once and for all. Partial roadblocks were set up around several cities with organisers saying 4,500 lorries were involved.
After earlier protests, the government suspended the so-called ‘eco-tax’ on heavy road transport. But the truckers say that is not good enough.
From France 24, a radical move:
French lawmakers back ban on buying sex
French lawmakers voted on Saturday to back a highly controversial provision in a bill that imposes a €1,500 euro fine on clients of sex workers.
On to Spain, and repression ahead from El País:
Safety bill calls for 30,000 euro fines for “offenses against Spain”
Cabinet sends proposed citizens’ security law to Congress for debate
“Offenses against Spain” include any public acts, such as shouting or carrying placards “that are harmful or abusive of Spain or any region” during a protest or demonstration, Fernández said.
El País again, with reassurance:
Consumer price figures for November dispel fears of deflation
Household spending picked up again as Spain emerged from recession
ANSAmed offers another Salud!:
Crisis: S&P upgrades Spain’s credit to ‘stable’
Economy in recovery, BBB- rating unchanged
While El País covers an austerian action killing a commons:
Valencia TV signs off with police eviction of workers and power cut
Broadcaster’s staff had pledged to stay on air
After more than 12 hours of resistance by workers, police were called in Friday to help close down Valencia’s loss-making regional television station RTVV. The Popular Party (PP) regional government sought a court order to evict the diehard broadcasters from the channel 9 studios, where they had been continuing their transmissions throughout the evening.
More from TheLocal.es:
TV tech turns folk hero in network switch-off saga
A technician at a debt-laden Spanish regional television station became a folk hero in a matter of hours on Friday morning after he ignored an order to switch the network signal off.
Workers at the government television station on Friday defied an order to close the broadcaster by airing their own live protest programme.
On to Lisbon and corporate good cheer from the Portugal News:
“Best year ever for exports” – deputy PM
Portugal’s deputy Prime Minister, Paulo Portas, said on Wednesday that exports were expected to represent 41 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the year making this “the best year ever for exports”
From ANSAmed, yet another piece of the commons goes, one that’s high on the neoliberal list:
Portuguese postal services strike against privatization
83% taking part; 5% of shares reserved for employees
The Portugal News covers coming austerity:
Unprecedented reductions in public spending, tax surcharge on all incomes and salary cuts of up to 12 percent caused widespread civil unrest for much of the past week, including the occupation of several government ministries.
And Channel NewsAsia Singapore reports an action:
easyJet’s Portugal pilots to strike Christmas-New Year
On to Italy and ominous numbers from TheLocal.it:
Italy’s youth jobless hits record high
Youth unemployment in Italy has hit a record high of 41.2 percent, while overall 12.5 percent of Italians are out of work, the national statistics agency Istat said on Friday.
The October figures point to a worsening situation for Italy’s 15-24-year-olds, with the number of unemployed young people up from September’s 40.4 percent.
From TheLocal.it again, Bunga Bunga political media baron sets media record:
Berlusconi breaks social media record
The ousting of Silvio Berlusconi from Italy’s parliament on Wednesday attracted more Facebook and Twitter posts than any other political event, a social media monitoring agency has said.
Between 7.00am and 6.00pm on Wednesday, the former prime minister was mentioned 255,000 times on the two websites, Blogmeter said. Of these there were 100,000 mentions of Berlusconi on Facebook and 155,000 on Twitter.
From TheLocal.it once again, Bunga Bungan liabilities:
Berlusconi risks fresh trial for bribing witnesses
Italy’s embattled Silvio Berlusconi, ousted from parliament and stripped of legal protection this week, risks arrest and a fresh trial after a court on Friday accused him of corrupting witnesses in a sex case.
Judges in a Milan court said Berlusconi “gave, and still gives, money” to call girls to provide false testimony in his favour, one of whom included the then-underage dancer nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer”.
After the jump, Grecomeltdown, Russian debt, Ukrainian anger, Latin polls and protests, Indian uncertainty, mixed Chinese signals, a Japanese uptick, and the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading