Thursday, December 11, 2008

Roundup: December 11


The House has passed the automakers bailout bill, which now faces Republican opposition in the Senate. The Race to the Bottom looks at the bill's "relatively mild" corporate governance provisions. Unlike the bank bailout, the bill bans the auto companies from paying bonuses, and prohibits "any compensation plan that would encourage manipulation of such automobile manufacturer’s reported earnings to enhance the compensation of any of its employees." Truth on the Market is highly critical and points out the vast extent of government equity holdings in the companies post bailout. DealBreaker asks if the appointment of the car czar will trigger CDS contracts. Meanwhile, parts suppliers are demanding advance payment from GM.

US initial jobless claims hit a 26-year high, up 59k to 573k. Homeowner equity is collapsing. Angry Bear asks if it makes any sense at all to talk about the TARP succeeding or failing. S&P says that Level 3 (mark-to-whatever) assets at US financial institutes increased 15.5% in Q3 QoQ, to $610bn. EconomPic looks at the ballooning Treasury deficit. Peer Steinbrueck, the German Finance Minister, has some nasty things to say about "crass Keynesianism" in Britain.

Russia has posted its first monthly deficit this year for November, thanks to the falling oil price. Meanwhile, the ruble is being allowed to depreciate further as speculation grows the authorities will use the Christmas holidays -- when banks close -- to take actions on the currency. A bank run is therefore widely expected.

Andreas Freytag and Gernot Pehnelt write at VoxEU on the likely coming wave of sovereign debt relief and criticize the history of such relief as "marked by political failure and short-term thinking."

Economix looks at the worst-performing sectors of privately-held companies.


Patrick Cockburn writes on the Iraq Status of Forces Agreement in the new LRB. "America's bid to act as the world’s only super-power and to establish quasi-colonial control of Iraq, an attempt that began with the invasion of 2003, has ended in failure."

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the Greek riots may be the first cracks in the Eurozone.

Robert Mugabe says that the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe is over even as the disease spreads to South Africa and more than 15k cases have been reported. Chris McGreal writes in the Guardian on the human costs of Mugabe's crackdown on illegal diamond mining. The MDC has released a new statement saying that Zanu-PF are responsible for the standstill in talks.

Ireland is to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty by October 2009.

Kim Jong-Il did indeed suffer a stroke, his doctor says.

Michael Elliott at Time writes on Deng Xiaoping's legacy.


Nobel laureate and Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Steven Chu will be appointed as President-elect Obama's Energy Secretary, according to Democratic Party sources. Among other key environmental appointments, the current head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa Jackson, will be appointed head of the EPA. Dr. Chu has a record of scientfic integrity, and he has lead major research initiatives into solar power and renewable fuels while director of LBNL. Ms. Jackson is reported to be a moderate who balances the demands of industry with proper enforcement of environmental regulation.

The U.S. coal industry has suffered its second severe setback in a month. After the recent ruling that the EPA must consider carbon emissions when approving new coal plants, industry had hoped to rush a midnight regulation removing certain restrictions on the placement of coal plants near national parks. The EPA will not pass this rule before the end of the Bush administration.

Ban Ki-Moon has joined calls for a global "Green New Deal."

No comments: