We open with a cartoon from Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Over the top and bubblicious, from the Christian Science Monitor:
Dow closes above 16000, but some economists are worried
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended Thursday at a record 16009.99, which was up 109.17 points. But some see the stock market as an ‘asset bubble’ fueled by the Fed’s bond-buying program.
Canada next, with the latest numbers, via National Post:
Ford Nation still standing strong despite scandals as mayor’s approval rating hits 42%
Indeed, support for Ford, who has had much of his authority stripped by city council over the past week, is still comfortably in the 37-49% range, Forum said
That number is one percent more than President Barack Obama is polling.
On to Europe, with bribe offers in the works. From Reuters:
Exclusive: Euro zone mulls cheap loans as incentive for economic reforms -document
Euro zone states are considering cheap loans to member governments as an incentive to carry out painful economic reforms, an EU document showed, introducing a discussion on fiscal transfers.
Yet anther dressing down, via EUbusiness:
Eurozone warns Spain, Italy to deliver on commitments
The eurozone Friday warned five countries led by Spain and Italy to deliver on promises to hit deficit and debt targets in national spending plans next year.
From the London Telegraph, the end of a British dream?:
Dream of property abroad dies as sales fall up to 42pc in crisis years
Incomes in the UK are squeezed and mortgage lenders in Europe are reluctant to lend to non-residents
Germany next, with a big bounceback from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
German business confidence rises strongly in November: Ifo
German business confidence contrasted with worries about eurozone recovery on Friday, showing a surprisingly strong rebound in November to the highest level for more than 18 months.
Of course it’s not [wink, wink], via EUbusiness:
German surplus is not harmful: Bundesbank
Germany’s trade surplus, a source of tension with European neighbours, is not harmful to the economy, but helpful, a top official of the German central bank or Bundesbank said on Friday.
Spiegel takes us to Switzerland and a divisive weekend vote:
‘Fat Cat’ Backlash: Swiss Executive Pay Debate Gets Ugly
Switzerland votes this weekend on whether to limit executives’ pay at twelve times that of their lowest-paid worker. In the run up to the referendum, the issue has become a national talking point, with both sides stoking public resentments and fears.
Spain next, as the scandal around the reigning neoliberal Popular Party heats up, via El País:
“Circumstantial” evidence exists that PP kept parallel accounts, High Court says
Undeclared payments to architect recorded in ex-party treasurer’s secret ledgers correspond to bills seized from architect’s office
More PP problems from TheLocal.es:
Weed dealing officials kicked out of ruling party
Two city councillors from the northern Spanish city of León have been expelled from the country’s ruling Popular Party after being arrested for allegedly trafficking a kilo of marijuana
From thinkSPAIN, Hispanoskeptics:
Faith in Spanish justice system ‘among lowest in Europe’
NEARLY two-thirds of residents in Spain have ‘no faith whatsoever’ in the country’s justice system and a similar proportion find the process takes too long and is outside the reach of most people’s pockets.
TheLocal.es cites an austerian consequence:
Cuts to medical spending hurting Spaniards: OECD
Spaniards are getting healthier but spending cuts could hurt the country’s most vulnerable citizens in the longer term, a new OECD study shows.
And El País covers an IP takedown:
First arrest made in Spain for leaking music online
Pirate copy of album by heavy rock band Extremoduro appeared on the web one month before planned release
While ANSAmed finds a driver:
Tourism driving economic recovery in Spain
54.3 mln foreign visitors this year so far, highest ever
And El País cites a Mariano prime ministerial musing:
Rajoy mulls strike law reform to guarantee minimum services
PM says Popular party has “made mistakes” in handling of Bárcenas corruption affair
Conservative leader defends reforms and says education minister “has complied with electoral program”
From the Portugal News, austerian opposition:
Strikes staged by Portugal’s transport sector have already soaked up more than half of the time that the incumbent government has been in power and, in protest to measures drawn up for next year’s State Budget, further action is on the cards for the impending festive season which threatens to blight travel plans over Christmas and New Year.
More of the same from New Europe:
Portuguese police demonstrate against austerity measures
Thousands of Portuguese policemen staged a protest in downtown Lisbon Thursday night against government’s austerity measures adopted in the 2014 draft budget.
The policemen from across the country marched from Luis Camoes Square toward the parliament building, holding placards and chanting slogans against austerity measures, which include salary and benefit cuts for civil servants.
Ialy next, and coming unwired with TheLocal.it:
Copper theft on the rise in crisis-hit Italy
Italy is cracking down on copper thieves, an ever-growing problem amid rising poverty in the crisis-hit country that has cost the railways alone some €31 million over the last three years.
TheLocal.it notes yet another austerian consequence:
Money woes drive more Italians to suicide
There has been a rise in the number of Italians committing suicide as they grapple with money problems amid a recession that is showing little sign of letting up, with 119 taking their lives since the start of 2013, new figures reveal.
After the jump, Grecocollapse, Latin American transitions, more neoliberal changes in China, the Japanese economic shakeout, and the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . .
We begin with a Germanic Greek endorsement via To Vima:
Merkel “impressed” with Samaras’ results in the economy
Greek Prime Minister updated his German counterpart on the latest developments at their meeting in Berlin
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at midday on Friday, ahead of Mr. Samaras’ scheduled speech at the annual event of the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.
EnetEnglish.gr has more:
Merkel: Greece will succeed in its commitments
German leader says Greeks can only have a better future through ‘restructuring and fiscal consolidation’
While she said she recognises the sacrifices by the Greek people, Angela Merkel insists that, in order to have a better future, they need economic restructuring and fiscal consolidation
But while the German carrot tempts, the German stick strikes, via Capital.gr:
Germany’s Schaeuble Says Greece Must Stick to Austerity
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble signalled that Germany won?t support Greece loosening reform and austerity efforts, saying Friday on German radio that Athens? budget progress shows that spending cuts have been the right approach.
ANSAmed offer assurance from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras:
Samaras says Greece will not need another loan
On track to meet all targets; may pay off interest ahead of time
From Greek Reporter, a Troikarch pulls the carrot back:
IMF Says Greece Can Wait For Loans
Despite a continued delay in the release of a one billion euro ($1.37 billion) installment from international lenders, Greece has enough liquidity to wait for the money to be disbursed, the International Monetary Fund’s spokesman said.
Kathimerini English covers ongoing action:
University workers to continue strike
Students protest as employees extend action into 12th week, minister meets with rectors
More than 1,000 students staged a peaceful protest Friday outside the main entrance to Athens University, calling for the institution to reopen even as administrative staff decided to continue their action against the government’s overhaul of the civil service and begin a 12th week of strikes on Monday.
And To Vima reports on a desperation move:
Psychiatric hospital doctors and staff members face suspensions
The public sector mobility plans include the transfer of entire psychiatric clinics to general hospitals
The doctors and hospital staff members at the country’s three psychiatric hospitals are going to face suspensions as part of the government’s public sector mobility plans. The general administrator Otto Charalambakis of the “Dafni” psychiatric hospital in Athens refused with the expedited plans and submitted his resignation to the Minister of Health on Friday morning.
More from EnetEnglish.gr:
Austerity psychosis hits psychiatric hospitals
Health ministry to remove patients and personnel from three hospitals
Move will effect Dromokaiteio psychiatric hospital in Haidari and Attica psychiatric hospital in Dafni – both in Athens – and Thessaloniki psychiatric hospital
While EnetEnglish.gr casts a wider net, landing a big fish:
More allegations of cronyism in hospital appointments
New director (33) of Sparta hospital has strong New Democracy connections
Evi Papageorgiou, who was appointed to the position of director of the Sparta-based hospital on October 31, has served in the central political council of New Democracy and its youth wing
From To Vima, a dangerous combination:
Army officer arrested for illegal possession of weapons
Police also recovered Nazi books and huge number of items emblazoned with Golden Dawn and junta emblems
The Police announced that it arrested a 51-year-old Army officer on Thursday in Magnesia for illegal possession of weapons. The army officer will plead his case before a military prosecutor.
And Kathimerini English covers a jailing:
Golden Dawn’s ‘Piraeus chapter leader’ is remanded
The alleged leader of Golden Dawn’s Piraeus chapter was remanded in custody on Friday after several hours of testimony before three investigating magistrates handling a probe into accusations that the neofascist party operated as a criminal organization.
Nikos Apostolou, who has been implicated in the operation of protection rackets and in assaults on immigrants, has denied the charges and insists that he is not a member of Golden Dawn but only a supporter. But recorded telephone conversations between him and other suspects following the killing of 34-year-old rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a party supporter in Keratsini, near Piraeus, on September 18 are said to contain incriminating evidence. Also, protected witnesses have linked him to at least one violent attack on immigrants and to protection rackets in the broader Piraeus area.
Latin America next, with a blow to American agribiz from the Argentina Independent:
Córdoba: Río Cuarto Rejects Establishment of Monsanto Plant
The mayor of Río Cuarto, in the province of Córdoba, has rejected the proposed establishment of a Monsanto plant in the town after a negative environmental impact study submitted by the business.
Mayor Juan Jure gave a firm declaration that decision was political and cannot be revoked, saying the issue is “absolutely decided” and that the ruling is “final.” He anticipated he would sign a decree so that all the responsibility of the decision rests with him.
A power shift in Caracas, via the Argentina Independent:
Venezuela: Maduro Passes First Decrees Under New Powers
Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro passed two decrees Thursday that give the executive increased control over the country’s troubled economy. The measures come just days after Congress approved the so-called enabling law, which grants Maduro the ability to bypass congressional approval and rule by decree in certain policy areas over the next 12 months.
Reuters ponders a delicate balance:
Analysis: Brazil’s Rousseff working to prevent a debacle in 2014
The economy, already sputtering, will probably slow even further. A downgrade of Brazil’s credit rating seems possible, if not likely. The World Cup of soccer, which Brazil will host in June and July, could end up revealing to billions of TV viewers the shoddy government planning and transportation bottlenecks that have frustrated investors here for years.
And Xinhua covers sales of the commons:
Brazil auctions two airports
Brazil on Friday auctioned two airports in Rio and Belo Horizonte, the capital and largest city in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, for a total of 20.82 billion reais (some 9.05 billion U.S. dollars), 250 percent more than the minimum amount for both auctions.
On to China, with a cash flood from Want China Times:
China to pour US$1 trillion into African investments
The Chinese government and state-run banks will offer loans of up to US$1 trillion to Africa until 2025 as the continent emerges as China’s newest top destination for investment, according to an analyst with the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China.
Neoliberalism metastasizing, from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:
China plans to launch crude oil futures market
China, the world’s largest energy consumer, on Friday took a step towards launching a market of its own for crude oil futures — which foreign investors may be allowed to trade.
From New Europe, making book:
China: first ever private finance regulations
East China’s Zhejiang Province approved China’s first ever regulations on private financing for Wenzhou City on Friday, according to local authorities.
The regulations, approved at the 6th session of the 12th Standing Committee of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Congress, stipulate that private loans involving more than three million yuan €380,000 for more than 30 lenders should be recorded by local financial management authorities or private lending registration service centers.
China Daily covers a major player:
China to account for 20% of global stocks: report
China’s stock capitalization will account for 20 percent of global stocks by 2030, up from 6 percent in 2012, according to a report on Tuesday forecasting the global economy in 2030 by Standard Chartered Bank.
The United States, with 21 percent, is forecast to remain in the lead.
Want China Times covers a critical shortfall:
China’s banks suspend mortgage approvals amid fund shortage
As year’s end approaches, China once more faces a shortage of funds, which in turn is affecting mortgage applications, with more and more banks suspending mortgage approvals especially from November on. The trend extends from first-tier cities to second- and third-tier cities and might further stifle the property market, our sister paper Want Daily reports.
And RT sacrifices individuality:
‘Eiffel Tower’ nosejob: Chinese students turn to plastic surgery to beat other job candidates
With a record 7 million graduates entering China’s job market this year, candidates are resorting to every means to improve their chances – even turning to plastic surgery modeled on France’s Eiffel Tower to appear more attractive to employers.
Japan next, with a major advance for the TPP via the Japan Times:
10-year tariff cut offered; ‘sacred’ items excluded
Japan has proposed to lift tariffs on all items aside from its five “sacred” farm products within 10 years, according to sources involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.
Japan Today gets flexible:
BOJ ready to make adjustment if inflation goal threatened
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated on Friday that the central bank stands ready to make necessary adjustments if risks to the economy threatened its inflation target.
The Japan Times notes a downturn:
Exports sag; demand likely to grow before tax hike
Economy managed to stay above water
The economy treaded water in November, thanks to steadily growing demand, but exports weakened for the third consecutive month amid signs that emerging economies are slowing, the government said Friday.
The downgrade to exports, which fell 0.6 percent in the quarter through September, was Japan’s first since September-November 2002, signaling that external demand has been too tepid to bolster the recovery for the past few months.
Japan Today with details:
Japan growth outlook wilts on poor spending, exports
Japan’s economy will grow slower than previously forecast for the current fiscal year ending in March on a dip in consumer spending and poor export performance, a Reuters poll showed.
Consumer spending will likely pick up again before a planned sales tax increase in April to 8% from 5%. But there are growing worries that an expected fall immediately afterward will do more damage to the economy than previously anticipated.
And Kyodo News covers political scandal:
Tokyo Gov. Inose got 50 mil. yen from scandal-hit hospital group in 2012
Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose admitted Friday he borrowed 50 million yen ($500,000) from a hospital organization, which is at the center of a fraud scandal, before running in the December 2012 gubernatorial election that he won.
While the Asahi Shimbun gives us the perfect transition. . .
Damage from Tokyo earthquake put at 300 trillion yen
A magnitude-7.3 earthquake below Tokyo could cause 300 trillion yen ($3 trillion) in economic damage, according to a member of a government advisory council on natural disasters.
This is triple the estimate given by the central government.
. . .to Fukushimapocalypse Now!
We begin with a video from Korea International Broadcasting’s Airang Prime:
Prime Talk: What ideas do the world’s scientists and engineers have for Fukushima?
Arirang Prime Time News hosts Sean Lim and Yoo Ji-hae talk to Professor Yune Suh from Seoul National University’s Nuclear Engineering department for his take on the botched science behind the current plans to stem the Fukushima radiation crisis. Suh also comments on the interaction between scientists and politicians in these types of scenarios.
From the Japan Times, Testing. One. Two. Three. Testing:
Three ALPS systems undergoing tests at Fukushima No. 1
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said all three systems of an advanced water processing machine known as ALPS are now in a test operations for the first time simultaneously.
The advanced liquid processing system can remove all radioactive materials except for tritium from tainted water, so its smooth and full-scale operation is a key to considerably reducing the high levels of radiation in the water being stored at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Cash on the
barrel head homestead from the Mainichi:
Fukushima residents who can’t return home to receive lump-sum compensation
A government panel to settle disputes over nuclear accident compensation is set to provide damages in lump-sum payments to residents of areas feared to be uninhabitable over a long period due to the nuclear crisis, panel sources said.
The Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation made the decision after the government abandoned the return home of all residents of areas hit by the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
Jiji Press marks a way-station:
TEPCO Ends Transfer of 1st Batch of Fuel at Fukushima N-Plant
Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday finished the transfer of the first batch of fuel assemblies from the storage pool at the No. 4 reactor of its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station to a common pool located within the premises of the plant.
From Xinhua, another fuel, another problem:
Death toll from China’s oil pipeline blast rises to 44
The death toll from an oil pipeline explosion in eastern Chinese city of Qingdao has risen to 44 from 35, local authorities said on Saturday.
Another 136 injured people have been hospitalized, rescue headquarters said, adding that rescue work is still going on.
And yet another from DutchNews.nl:
Minister refuses to hand over shale gas rep, to close,ort papers
Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp is refusing to publish a concept report on the risks attached to drilling for shale gas in the Netherlands, says environmental group Milieudefensie.