A phenomenal amount happening as the pact accelerates. Be sure to continue after the jump for Greek woes, confrontation in Kyiv, Thai turmoil on the brink, Russian blues, Chinese surge, Japanese woes, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!
Because of limited time, we’ll just name the publications and let the headlines tell the tale, starting with the end of an era from PRI International’s The World:
Say a final farewell to the VW minibus — the vehicle that defined the 60s
In the US and Europe, the Kombi is synonymous with 1960s hippie culture. But in Brazil, the Kombi has been for decades a modern-day workhorse, serving as ambulance, school bus, hearse and street and hot dog stall. It’s been produced in Brazil — mostly by hand — since 1957, about seven years after it first rolled off the assembly lines in Germany.
From the Asahi Shimbun, our first trade tale:
TPP talks likely to go into 2014 as Japan, U.S. remain at odds over tariffs
Japan’s rejection of U.S. demands to end tariffs on politically sensitive farm produce means a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade arrangement is unlikely by the end of December.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office, said Japan cannot agree on tariff cuts on Dec. 10, the final day of a four-day TPP ministerial meeting here, unless the United States makes substantial concessions.
More from Jiji Press:
Countries End TPP Ministerial Meeting without Deal
While noting “substantial progress toward completing” the TPP agreement, the 12 countries failed to resolve their differences in outstanding issues, including tariffs.
As a result, they agreed to hold a ministerial meeting again in January 2014, abandoning their goal of reaching a political agreement on important issues by the end of the year.
A video report on what’s at stake from RT:
Corporations may snatch Pacific rim’s $20trn market as US pushes deal
Published on Dec 10, 2013
The US is ramping up pressure to secure a Trans-Pacific Trade Deal with conditions that could undermine the national interests of nations involved. WikiLeaks documents say talks are “paralyzed,” with the US refusing to compromise on disputed issues.
A major economic segment from JapanToday:
New consoles, online games to keep global market soaring until 2017
The global video gaming market is set to grow 11.1% a year until 2017, boosted by a new generation of consoles and the increasing popularity of online games, according to IDATE digital research and consultancy firm.
The market, estimated at 53.9 billion euros ($73.8 billion) this year, is expected to soar to 82.1 billion euros in 2017, the France-based firm said in a report.
Channel NewsAsia Singapore with numbers:
Unemployment rate in rich countries steady: OECD
The unemployment rate across rich countries held steady for the second straight month at 7.9 per cent in October, the OECD said on Tuesday with 47.8 million people officially without work in the 34 countries.
From Spiegel, vampire squids:
Cartel Power: Megabanks Gain Ground Despite Fines
Authorities around the world are taking action against large banks for questionable practices including collusion and rate manipulation, but the power of these financial institutions continues to grow. Germany’s Deutsche Bank in particular finds itself under fire.
CNN posits the imponderable:
What if the economic recovery is doomed?
It’s getting late. And it’s getting dangerous. Since World War II, economic expansions have averaged 58 months between recessions. January 2014 will be month 54. Could another recession arrive before we’ve put back to work everyone who lost a job in the last recession? The answer seems almost certainly: yes.
And on to the U.S. and a sadly done deal,m screwing those who need help most, via Bloomberg:
U.S. Budget Agreement Eases Spending Cuts Over Two Years
U.S. budget negotiators unveiled an agreement to ease automatic spending cuts by about $60 billion over two years and reduce the deficit by $23 billion, breaking a three-year cycle of fiscal standoffs.
The budget proposal, which will be considered by the House later this week, would set U.S. spending at about $1.01 trillion for this year, higher than the $967 billion required in a 2011 budget accord. Spending for defense is $520.5 billion and for non-defense $491.8 billion.
Obama urged lawmakers to pass an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, which expire this month. The deal doesn’t include the jobless aid.
The Guardian notes inequity:
Let’s get this straight: AIG execs got bailout bonuses, but pensioners get cuts
No one has accused city workers in Chicago or Detroit of bringing down the economy, but they could face pension cuts
Salon has the despicable:
New York Post editorial board: NYC “too generous” to city’s homeless
Responding to a landmark New York Times profile of the city’s homeless, the Post says it’s all “hooey”
London Telegraph marks a passage:
Wall Street banks lose battle over Volcker Rule
The new rules will restrict compensation arrangements at banks to discourage employees from making “risky” trades
Wall Street banks are to be banned from gambling their own funds for profit, after US regulators voted in the the controversial Volcker Rule, designed to reduce risk-taking by major financial institutions.
From Oakland Tribune, smoke, no mirrors:
Legal pot supported by California majority for first time, Field Poll shows
For the first time in 44 years, a clear majority of California voters favors legalizing marijuana, a new Field Poll found.
And where there’s smoke, there might soon be fire: A specific legalization ballot initiative now seeking signatures to get on next November’s ballot also has majority support, the poll found.
“Debating about whether to legalize now is pointless, because we’re going to,” said Mark A.R. Kleiman, a UCLA professor and drug policy expert. “The smart debate is about how we’ll do it.”
Details from the Sacramento Bee:
Eight percent of voters backed allowing anyone to purchase cannabis and 47 percent said it should be available with the types of controls, like age verification, that govern alcohol sales.
Those two groups combined account for 55 percent of voters surveyed, marking a breakthrough for marijuana advocates: It is the first time a Field Poll has discovered clear majority support for legalization. A combined 50 percent backed the notion in 2010, when a legalization ballot initiative went down to defeat.
And Reuters goes one better:
Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade
Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization.
A government-sponsored bill approved by 16-13 votes in the Senate provides for regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals in the small South American nation.
A parenthetical note from The Independent:
People who drink alcohol outlive those who abstain, study shows
A contentious new study is suggesting people who drink regularly live longer than those who completely abstain from drinking.
Research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found those who did not consume any alcohol appeared to have a higher mortality rate, regardless of whether they were former heavy drinkers or not, than those who drank heavily.
CNBC, an uptick:
Small business optimism edged up in November amid some hiring
U.S. small business optimism edged higher in November—reversing an October drop—as manufacturers and professional services, including architects, doctors and lawyers, led modest gains in newly created Main Street jobs.
The National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday that its small business optimism Index nudged up 0.9 of a point to 92.5 last month, up from 91.6 for October.
From China Daily, hooking up:
California police department will sign up for Sina Weibo – Chinese ‘twitter’
In an unusual move to reach Chinese immigrants, a California city’s police department will be the first in the country to open an account on Sina Weibo, a China-based microblogging website similar to Twitter.
“We have a large population of Chinese people in Alhambra,” Police Chief Mark Yokoyama said. “We want to be progressive in reaching out to the community, and Weibo is a tool to increase community awareness and outreach to immigrants.”
From BBC News, so give Uncle some cars:
US government lost around $10bn on GM bailout
The US government has sold its remaining shares in General Motors, leaving it with a loss of around $10bn (£6bn) on the bailout of the car maker.
The US Treasury spent $49.5bn bailing out GM in 2008 and 2009, and took a 61% stake in the car maker.
On to Europe with The Guardian:
Youth unemployment could prolong eurozone crisis, Christine Lagarde says
IMF chief warns against prematurely declaring an end to the economic crisis, saying joblessness puts future growth at stake
“Can a crisis really be over when 12% of the labour force is without a job? When unemployment among the youth is in very high double digits, reaching more than 50% in Greece and Spain? And when there is no sign that it is becoming easier for people to pay down their debts?”
The Guardian warns:
Europe’s economic crisis could be mutating again
Deflation could be replacing debt as the main problem – and there’s nothing to suggest the ECB is up to the job
A blast from EUobserver:
Austria and Luxembourg accused of undermining EU credibility
Luxembourg and Austria came under attack on Tuesday (10 December) after the two countries stood firm and blocked plans to increase transparency in tax reporting.
At a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, the final formal gathering of 2013, ministers from the two countries insisted that they will not agree to a reformed savings tax directive until the EU has reached agreements on banking secrecy with nearby tax havens such as Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
New Europe’s numbers:
OECD: Unemployment stable at 7.9% in October
The OECD unemployment rate stood at 7.9% in October 2013, unchanged from the two previous months. Across the OECD area, 47.8 million persons were unemployed in October 2013, 13.1 million more than in July 2008.
In the euro area, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point to 12.1% in October, the first decline since February 2011.
Deutsche Welle blasts:
EADS job cuts under fire from Germany, France
European aerospace company EADS has been criticized by Berlin and Paris for slashing 5,800 jobs as it downsizes its military business. EADS warns even more jobs are at risk if governments keep cutting defense budgets.
From New Europe, cashing out:
Outflow of workers’ remittances at €38.8 billion in 2012
In 2012 in the EU27, flows of money sent by migrants to their country of origin, known as workers’ remittances, including both extra-EU27 and intra-EU27 flows, amounted to €38.8 billion.
According to Eurostat, almost three quarters of this total went outside the EU, with extra-EU27 flows of €28.4 billion and intra-EU27 flows of €10.3 billion. Over the last four years, workers’ remittances have been stable at around €28 billion for extra-EU27 flows and €10 billion for intra-EU27 flows.
Neos Kosmos has symbolism:
Eurobank officials take salary cuts
Senior Eurobank officials have heeded the CEO’s proposal to reduce salaries, aiming to send a strong message of resolve that they will continue in their cost-cutting efforts
Senior Eurobank officials have heeded Chief Executive Christos Megalou’s proposal to reduce their salaries, aiming to send a strong message of resolve that they are determined to continue in their cost-cutting efforts so as to see the lender return to profit as soon as possible. Officials from the bank will travel to the US today for meetings and presentations ahead of Eurobank’s share capital incease.
According to sources, Megalou’s salary, which constitutes a ceiling for the bank’s pay structure, will drop 17 percent on an annual basis. The salary cuts will affect general directors, members of the bank’s strategic planning and executive committees as well as other officials of the lender and its subsidiaries.
From Spiegel, hypocrisy:
Post-Lampedusa: Hopes Dashed for New EU Asylum Policy
Two months after the deadly shipwreck off Lampedusa, Europe has done nothing to change course on its asylum policy. A new agreement between the EU and Turkey only reinforces the practice of pushing the refugee problem to Europe’s periphery.
And that gives us the perfect bridge to our first British story, via Sky News:
Border Force Criticised By MPs Over Failings
Officials are not checking private boats and planes properly for illicit goods and illegal immigrants, a report by MPs warns.
More hypocrisy from The Independent:
Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
A review into the impact of EU migration on Britain has been delayed because the Government feared it was too positive.
The latest part of Whitehall’s Balance of Competences study, which looked specifically at freedom of movement, had been due to be released yesterday. But, according to reports, it has now been shelved until next year because Theresa May, the Home Secretary, takes issues with its findings.
From the London Telegraph, cowed:
Steak to become a luxury item as food prices tipped to soar by as much as 6% in 2014
New report forecasts that food prices will rise above inflation next year and for the rest of the decade as growing global demand and climate change hit the industry
The Guardian hustles:
Payday loan TV commercials rocket to almost 400,000 in three years – Ofcom
Regulator’s report reveals enormous growth in TV ads for companies such as Wonga, up from 11,000 per year in 2009
Ofcom has estimated that every UK adult viewed an average of 152 payday loan commercials in 2012. Children aged 4 to 15 who watched TV saw a total of 596m payday loan TV adverts last year – an average of 70 each – up from just 3m in 2008.
Hopes from the Economic Times:
India-UK trade volume can double by 2015: UK Minister Vince Cable
The bilateral trade between Indian and the United Kingdom can be doubled by 2015 from the business done in 2010, Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State (Cabinet Minister) for Business, Innovation and Skills, said today.
“The bilateral trade between India and UK stood at 12 billion pounds in 2012 and we are looking at 15 to 20 per cent annual growth,” Cable told reporters on the sidelines of an interaction with young entrepreneurs here.
From The Guardian, idiocy averted:
Coalition scraps plans to outsource defence procurement to private firms
Labour says Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, is responsible for ‘another embarrassing and costly U-turn’
The coalition has scrapped plans to hand private companies responsibility for buying £14bn a year of planes, weapons and other military equipment for the Ministry of Defence, in a U-turn condemned by Labour as costly and embarrassing.
What recovery is that? From The Guardian:
Most Britons have felt no benefits from economic recovery, opinion poll finds
Tories creep up on Labour by two points, despite 70% of voters polled by ICM/Guardian saying they have not seen any gains
From the London Telegraph, gone:
Home buying will be out of reach for an ‘entire generation’
Average prices in London will soar by more than 43pc to £650,000, research by the National Housing Federation and Oxford Economics warns
The Guardian has instruction:
Secretary who stole £4m will teach jail survival to white-collar criminals
Joyti Waswani, convicted of defrauding her Goldman Sachs bosses in 2004, will offer advice on serving time safely
The former Goldman Sachs secretary who was jailed in 2004 for stealing more than £4m from her banker bosses has landed a job coaching white-collar criminals in how to cope with a prison term.
Joyti Waswani, who served half of her seven-year sentence in three closed prisons under her then married name of Joyti De-Laurey, is said to be Britain’s biggest female fraudster after stealing vast sums from her bosses, Scott Mead, Jennifer Moses and Moses’s husband, Ron Beller, all of whom were directors of the investment bank.
Hypocrisy unmasked, via The Guardian:
Asylum seekers: former chief justice condemns politicians’ approach
Gerard Brennan prepares damning assessment of the ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to winning votes
The former high court chief justice Gerard Brennan has prepared a damning assessment of a “whatever it takes” approach to politics, questioning the asylum-seeker policies of both parties.
On to Ireland with Independent.ie:
Ireland ‘unlikely’ to get ESM help to recover cost of bailing out our banks
The head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Klaus Regling, appeared to rule out use of the fund just hours after eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the same bailout pot would not be available to ease the cost to the banks of their stock of loss-making tracker mortgages.
Independent.ie again, interest compounding:
Central Bank wary of capping rates
The Central Bank has said that any moves to cap the cost of loans from Irish moneylenders would need to be taken carefully.
Last month, the British government announced it would cap pay-day loans to stop companies charging huge amounts of interest.
TheLocal.no, looking for a joint:
Norway to Sweden: Can we rent out your prisons?
Norway has asked to lease out prison spaces from its neighbour Sweden in a bid to end a shortage of cells which police complain forces them to release criminals.
Justice Minister Anders Anundsen announced on Monday evening that he had sent a proposal to his Swedish counterpart Beatrice Ask, and hoped that Norwegian inmates would start serving time in Sweden as early as next year.
Xenophobic, insulting messages on far-right websites and a slam aimed at teenage asylum-seekers on a hunger strike come to a conclusion, via TheLocal.se:
‘I hope they starve’ post fells Sweden Democrat
Marie Stensby represented the Sweden Democrats in Jämtland in northern Sweden and was voted in as an alternate member of executive board at the recent party conference; until Tuesday’s revelation in the Expressen daily she had furthermore intended to stand for election to Sweden’s Riksdag in 2014.
The local politician previously leapt to national media attention in November 2012 when she called for the establishment of a “a reservation for Sweden’s indigenous peoples” in her home county of Jämtland.
But wait. That was just the beginning. TheLocal.se follows up reports that at least 10 others let their Social Darwinism loose on the web:
Sweden Democrats: More heads may roll
Several more politicians risk being kicked out of the Sweden Democrat party following revelations that they posted xenophobic and insulting messages on various far-right websites.
“Their actions will not be without consequences,” party secretary Björn Söder told the TT news agency on Tuesday.
Holland next, with a raise from DutchNews.nl:
Dutch wages to rise 2.3% next year, well below European average
Dutch salaries will rise by an average of 2.3% next year, well below the global average, according to research by consultancy Hay Group.
The research showed that on average global salaries will rise 5.2% while in Europe the average increase will be 3.1%, the Hay research showed.
Big Pharma in Dutch from Europe Online:
EU fines Novartis, J&J for delaying generic painkiller
The European Union is fining pharmaceutical giants Novartis and Johnson & Johnson a total of 16 million euros (22 million dollars) for delaying the launch of a generic painkiller in the Netherlands, the bloc’s executive announced Tuesday.
The drug in question is a cheaper version of Fentanyl, a painkiller that is 100 times more potent than morphine and is notably used by cancer patients, according to the European Commission. “The two companies shockingly deprived patients in the Netherlands, including people suffering from cancer, from access to a cheaper version of this medicine,” said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
Germany next, til debt do us part from TheLocal.de:
German cities pile up mountain of debt
The number of German cities threatened with bankruptcy has increased over recent years, with the gap between rich and poor areas growing, a study revealed on Tuesday.
Despite the economy performing well and tax receipts flooding into national coffers, many town and city treasuries are bare, according to a study released on Tuesday from accountants Ernst & Young.
TheLocal.de delivers the chop:
Airbus maker to cut 2,600 jobs in Germany
European aerospace giant EADS, the maker of Airbus aircraft, announced plans on Monday to cut 2,600 jobs in Germany as part of widespread cuts to its defence sector.
The job cuts, part of a major restructuring in the face of falling orders, will affect the group’s workforce in Germany, France, Spain and Britain over the next three years, the company said in a statement.
TheLocal.de one more time, with a plea for $644 a week:
Frankfurt buses stay parked in strike
Commuters in Frankfurt and nearby towns faced a difficult trip to work on Tuesday as almost every bus in the city stood stationary after drivers went on strike to push for €12 an hour pay and a 39-hour week.
Services union Verdi called the strike after negotiations over pay and conditions with the Hesse state association of bus companies failed to produce results.
Banksters behaving badly from EUobserver:
Fresh corruption scandal engulfs Deutsche Bank
Berlin – US authorities are investigating Deutsche Bank, along with other multi-national banking behemoths like JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citi, on suspicion of using corrupt practices in China in order to acquire contracts from state-owned companies, the New York Times reports.
They are said to be hiring the offspring of top Chinese officials.
But we leave the most ominous banking story for last. From Reuters:
German shipping banks face $22 billion in losses: Moody’s
Germany’s leading shipping lenders face 16 billion euros ($22 billion) in credit losses in the coming year as a severe sector slump makes it increasingly difficult for shipowners to repay their loans, ratings agency Moody’s said.
Germany’s eight major ship financiers have lent a total of 105 billion euros to the sector, a fifth of which are categorized as non-performing, Moody’s said in a report.
On to France and an ail from TheLocal.fr:
Economists dub France the ‘sick man of Europe’
A new report by The Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think tank, will not have gone down well in the corridors of power in Paris this week after it labelled France the real “sick man of Europe”.
Whereas the Euro Plus Monitor report was optimistic for the rest of Europe to pull out of the crisis it singled out France for a rollicking, saying its economic policies have changed little.
Spain next with El País and a splitting headache:
Leftists threaten to break CiU pact over referendum
- Catalan premier’s ally wants simple “yes or no” question on independence
- “Spain against Catalonia” forum riles regional PP
The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) has made its clearest threat to date to regional premier Artur Mas of the governing CiU bloc: if the question that is posed to Catalans on any independence referendum does not refer explicitly to independence, ERC will withdraw from the pact between the groups. “ERC will not participate in a deal that results in a bad question,” ERC spokeswoman Anna Simó said Monday.
Spain drops 20% in Brand Finance rankings
Down 5 notches; Italy slides from 10th to 12th place
El País merges
Marriage of the canning giants
Crown, the leading manufacturer of metal containers in the world, was attracted to Spain’s Mivisa because of its production and marketing techniques
Portugal next with Europe Online:
Portugal’s export growth slows, jeopardizing recovery
Portugal’s economic recovery was dealt a blow in October, figures issued by the statistics body INE showed Tuesday, with year-on-year export growth slowing to 4.2 per cent.
The figure is a sharp drop from September, when exports had grown by 9.9 per cent. In October, Portugal exported less both to the European Union and to countries outside it. Imports meanwhile increased by 3.7 per cent year-on-year, up from 3.5 per cent in September.
El País has feeble numbers:
Bank of Portugal revises projections for local economy upward
The Bank of Portugal on Tuesday revised upward its growth forecasts for the domestic economy for next year, predicting a recovery in private consumption and an ongoing push from the exports sector.
In its winter economic bulletin, the central bank now sees GDP growing 0.8 percent in 2014, up from an estimated 0.3 percent in its fall forecasts. It also now expects output to contract by 1.5 percent this year, compared with a previous estimate for a decline of 1.6 percent. GDP growth is seen accelerating to 1.3 percent in 2015.
The Portugal News compares:
Portugal is more like Ireland, less like Greece – Moody’s
Rating agency Moody’s has said that the Portuguese debt structure was “very different” from the Greek and “much more comparable” to the Irish and also said they expected that Portugal would adopt a cautionary programme backed by the European Stability Mechanism.
Italy next with ANSAmed:
Italians flocking abroad soars 70% in two years
Lombardy leads exodus with more than 20% of total
The number of Italians leaving the country rose 70% in two years, from 40,000 in 2010 to 68,000 in 2012, an Italian foundation for multi-ethnic studies reported on Tuesday.
Italy’s recovery remains elusive: economists
The Italian economy has emerged from two years of contraction, data showed on Tuesday, but economists warned that recovery will remain elusive as resistance grows to further tax hikes and reforms.
The third-biggest economy in the eurozone, Italy stagnated in the third quarter, revised data showed, in an update of an earlier estimate of a 0.1 percent contraction.
ANSAmed has austerian costs:
Italy’s kids stunted by recession, says Save the Children
More teenage moms, obese kids, school dropouts
Italy’s children are growing up physically, emotionally, and intellectually stunted by the recession, which has brought poverty, unemployment, and a lack of emotional, psychological, and environmental support in its wake, according to a new Save The Children report issued Tuesday. Titled ‘’Italy Upside Down’‘, the report documents a 7.4% drop in the country’s fertility rate along with a rise in childhood obesity, teenage motherhood, and the rate of high-school dropouts.
ANSAmed has modest hopes:
Italy’s industrial production grew 0.5% in October
Smallest year-on-year drop since start of recession
Italy’s industrial production data for October provided hope Tuesday that the country may be emerging from its longest recession in over two decades.
National statistics agency Istat said production was up 0.5% in October with respect to September.
And a rare Maltese item from The Guardian:
Want to buy citizenship? It helps if you’re one of the super-rich
Malta has announced it is selling passports to foreign investors for £546,000, but that’s cheap compared with other countries, such as Britain and the US
The move has ruffled feathers in the UK. In part, because of worries about unchecked immigration; the passport grants its holders full EU citizenship, including freedom of movement (Maltese citizenship also come with a visa waiver on entry to the US). Labour’s shadow immigration minister, David Hanson, told the Financial Times the move risked being “a backdoor route” to EU residence and was “not a tight or appropriate immigration policy”. The government faces calls from British and European politicians to intervene and put a stop to the plan.
After jump, Greek meltdown, Ukrainian woes, Russian riots, Israeli intolerance, Latin American turmoil, Aussie foibles, Thai turmoil, Chinese neoliberalism and smog, Japanese woes, environmental news, and the latest Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading