Barclays Says 40% of Japan’s Investors See Risk of U.S. Default

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) — Forty percent of Japanese investors said there is a risk that the U.S. government will default on its debt, a survey published by Barclays Capital showed.

Almost 34 percent of the 66 respondents in the poll sent to Japanese institutional investors from Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 said there is a “significant” or “slight” risk that the U.S. will lose its AAA sovereign debt rating this year. Twenty-two percent said they were concerned about the credit risk of German government bonds. China surpassed Japan in September to become the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries.

“Sovereign risk related to national debt has been a recent topic of discussion among market participants,” Lhamsuren Sharavdemberel, a Tokyo-based analyst at Barclays, wrote in the report published yesterday. She confirmed the details today.

Read moreBarclays Says 40% of Japan’s Investors See Risk of U.S. Default

Bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland bankers set for millions in bonuses

RBS to reward staff in spite of losses


The troubled Royal Bank of Scotland, rescued with £20 billion of public money, is planning large bonuses for thousands of its City traders and senior bankers, The Times has learnt.

The proposed payments are expected to reach tens of millions of pounds – possibly hundreds of millions – with some star bankers in line for six-figure payouts.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the Treasury-run body that holds the Government’s RBS stake, is understood to have given its blessing in principle to limited payments, although it has yet to see the details. “There’s no blanket objection to bonuses, but they are subjecting them to intense scrutiny,” said one well-placed source. “The [bonus] numbers will be very large and very difficult for the general public to understand.”

Read moreBailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland bankers set for millions in bonuses

Study makes stronger case HRT causes breast cancer

Hormones are not necessary at all. Acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, neural therapy (according to Dr. Hunecke [Germany]) … and all menopause symptoms are gone.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Researchers looking into the long-term health effects of hormone replacement therapy said on Wednesday they had made the strongest case yet that the pills raise the risk of breast cancer.

But other experts and one company that makes hormone replacement therapy (HRT) pills said they still dispute the conclusion that a recent drop in U.S. breast cancer cases means that HRT was responsible for the disease.

All the experts agree that HRT can be used by women suffering severe menopause symptoms, but they should use the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time.

Read moreStudy makes stronger case HRT causes breast cancer

Barack Obama ‘set to open radical nuclear weapons talks with Russia’

Barack Obama will aim to slash the nuclear weapons stockpiles of the US and Russia by 80 per cent, it has been reported.


Barack Obama has been hit by a series of set-back in his presidency Photo: AP

Mr Obama will move to open fresh arms reduction talks with Moscow and seek an agreement to cut the number of warheads to 1,000 each, according to The Times.

The two countries must have cut their stockpiles from about 10,000 to 5,000 by December under the 1991 US-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start).

Read moreBarack Obama ‘set to open radical nuclear weapons talks with Russia’

Google Offers “Latitude” To Track People

New, Free Software Enables You To Keep Tabs On Others’ Whereabouts, And Vice Versa, Using Cell Phones, Says Natali Del Conte

(CBS) Google is releasing free software Wednesday that enables people to keep track of each other using their cell phones.

CNET got a sneak peek at it, and CNET-TV Senior Editor and Early Show contributor Natali Del Conte explained how it works on the show Tuesday.

She says “Latitude” uses GPS systems and what’s called cell tower triangulation to do the job. The software seeks the closest three cell towers and, with GPS, combines the data to show where someone is.

It is designed to work on any phone with Internet capabilities, except the iPhone.

“Latitude” is being marketed as a tool that could help parents keep tabs on their children’s locations, but it can be used for anyone to find anyone else, assuming permission is given.

“What Google Latitude does is allow you to share that location with friends and family members, and likewise be able to see friends and family members’ locations,” Steve Lee, product manager for Google Latitude, told CNET. “For example, a girlfriend could use it to see if her boyfriend has arrived at a restaurant and, if not, how far away he is.”

CNET points out that, “To protect privacy, Google specifically requires people to sign up for the service. People can share their precise location, the city they’re in, or nothing at all.”

“What we found in testing,” Lee added to CNET, “is that the most common scenario is a symmetrical arrangement, where both people are sharing with each other.”

For complete details from CNET on “Latitude,” click here.

But how accurate is “Latitude”?

Del Conte found a family willing to give it a try. The results? Mixed:

The family lives in an area with spotty cell phone reception, Del Conte points out. They found that, if they went to more urbanized areas, the accuracy of the program increased.

Feb. 4, 2009

Source: CBS News

Spain’s downward spiral spooks bond investors


Spain lost almost 200,000 jobs in January in the worst one-month rise since records began, lifting the unemployment rate to 14.4pc and inflicting further damage on the credibility of the Spanish government.

The ferocity of the downturn has led to a sharp jump in borrowing costs for the Spanish state, which lost its AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s last month.

A €7bn treasury auction of 10-year Spanish bond on Tuesday saw yields jump to 137 basis points above German Bunds, a post-EMU high. Foreign investors were conspicuously absent, leaving Spanish banks to soak up the debt.

“This is a national emergency. The government is being overwhelmed by events,” said Mariano Rajoy, the opposition leader. The mood has changed dramatically in recent weeks as debtors launch hunger strikes and one builder threatened to set himself on fire to protest the credit crunch.

Maravillas Rojo, the labour secretary, said four million people may be out of work by end of the year – up from 3.3m now. “We’re suffering from a grave international financial crisis, lack of liquidity, and falling consumption,” she said.

Spain is losing jobs at three times the rate of the US, in proportionate terms. Over one million Spanish men under thirty are unemployed, leading to a surge in applications to join the armed forces. Three quarters of the army candidates are being turned away.

Read moreSpain’s downward spiral spooks bond investors

Warren Buffett injects $300m into Harley Davidson

Warren Buffett, the celebrated investor, is backing one of America’s most iconic companies, buying a $300m (£207m) debt tranche in motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson.


Warren Buffett injects $300m into Harley Davidson

Mr Buffett, better known for his investments in insurance and financials, bought the debt as part of a $600m issue by Harley to increase its cash position.

Harley has been struggling of late, following a 58pc decline in its fourth-quarter profit after losses at its financing arm, announcing the loss of 1,100 jobs last month and the need to consolidate a number of its plants.

The new cash will be used to bolster its finance arm, with RBC Capital Markets’ Ed Aaron noting: “Harley’s finance arm needs capital in a highly constrained credit environment.”

But that capital will come at a cost – with Mr Buffett receiving a 15pc annual dividend on his investment in Harley’s senior unsecured debt, which matures in 2014.

Read moreWarren Buffett injects $300m into Harley Davidson

Fitch Cuts Russia’s Debt Rating to ‘BBB’

Remember that these are the same rating agencies that rated a collection of highly risky loans with ‘AAA’, making them appear ultra-safe.


Fitch Ratings on Wednesday downgraded Russia’s sovereign rating to ‘BBB’ and said further cuts were possible due to low commodity prices, high capital outflows, melting reserves and corporate debt problems.

Fitch’s downgrade follows one from Standard & Poor’s in December, making it the second ratings cut for Russia since the end of the last major financial crisis a decade ago.

On the Fitch scale, Russia would now need to be cut just two more notches to become ‘junk’ rather than ‘investment grade.’

The downgrade pushed the euro down to session lows versus the dollar below $1.29.

Read moreFitch Cuts Russia’s Debt Rating to ‘BBB’

Global News (02/04/09)

Britain ‘headed’ for deepest slump in 60 years (Times Online):
The sharpest plunge in consumer spending since the Second World War will drive Britain this year into its deepest economic slump for 60 years, according to the country’s leading economic research institute.

Cheney Warns Of New Attacks (CBS News):
Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

Dick Cheney Is A Liar (The Washington Independent)

President Obama to water down ‘Buy American’ plan after EU trade war threat (Times Online):
The European Union warned the US yesterday against plunging the world into depression by adopting a planned “Buy American” policy, intensifying fears of a trade war.

Europe and Canada warn US over ‘Buy America’ clause (Telegraph)

EU issues warning over Buy American plan (Financial Times):
The European Union has warned of possible trade litigation against the US if Washington presses ahead with a Buy American provision in its forthcoming economic stimulus bill.

Senate Republicans Slam Obama Stimulus (CBS News)

PM slams economic protection (Scotsman):
AUSTRALIA’S prime minister Kevin Rudd warned that nations using protectionist policies to stimulate economies would throw “a spear at the heart” of his country’s economy.

Japan slams Buy American plan (Financial Times)

ADP index shows 522000 jobs lost in January (MarketWatch)

Kazakhstan devalues currency (Financial Times):
Kazakhstan allowed its currency, the tenge, to drop by almost one-fifth in a move it blamed on falling world oil prices and the sharp depreciation of the Russian rouble.

Russia and Belarus sign air defence pact (Telegraph)

Japan’s Panasonic to cut 15000 jobs, shut plants (AP)

Abu Dhabi injects liquidity (Financial Times)

Obama caps executive pay tied to bailout money (AP):
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Wednesday imposed $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure.”

Treasury reveals record US debt sale plans (Financial Times):
The US Treasury on Wednesday opened the floodgates of government bond issuance, revealing plans for a record debt sale in February and more frequent auctions in the months to come.

Foreclosures Now One in Five Home Sales (NewsMax)

Wells Fargo defends, then cancels Vegas junket (AP):
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a tradition for Wells Fargo & Co. to reward top employees with a lavish junket. In previous years, though, the company hadn’t just received a $25 billion bailout from taxpayers.

Chinese earthquake may have been man-made, say scientists (Telegraph):
An earthquake that killed at least 80,000 people in Sichuan last year may have been triggered by an enormous dam just miles from the epicentre

Time seen running out for attack on Iran (Reuters):
HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) – Israel has a year in which to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities preemptively, an Israeli legislator and weapons expert said Wednesday.

UK and US put Iran at heart of the agenda (Independent)

State pension funds tally their losses (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Editorial: Judges Sentenced (Philadelphia Inquirer):
Kids for cash
The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it’s a story right out of Dickens’ grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County’s most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.

British colonel ‘passed Afghan casualty secrets to female friend’ (Times Online)

Lovells hired to trace Bernard Madoff’s UK assets (Times Online)

Exploding mobile phone kills man in China (Telegraph)

The Army’s Remote-Controlled Beetle (MIT Technology Review):
A giant flower beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Scientists at the University of California developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from a nearby computer. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for surveillance purposes or for search-and-rescue missions.