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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dubai Financial Crisis.

 Dubai World, the country's largest conglomerate, wants to suspend payment on its 60 Billion dollar debts until May 2010 at the earliest. RT's financial contributor Max Keiser says the World is entering the Phase Two of the global economic crisis, and suggests it is likely that the US Dollar will be replaced as the Global Reserve Currency.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Investors put off by Malaysia’s high-cost, low-speed broadband

Business Times Singapore) - Consumers in Malaysia pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the region, one major reason being the monopoly which state-owned Telekom Malaysia (TM) holds on submarine cable landing rights, a senior executive at a multinational company has asserted.

There is no shortage of gateway service providers seeking landing rights because of the pent-up demand for quality bandwidth, but the government must deregulate or liberalise gateways in order to improve competitiveness by providing larger broadband at lower costs, said Ryaz Patel, Intel Electronics country manager for Malaysia and Brunei.

Patel’s comments that the lacklustre quality and high cost of broadband is hurting the country’s knowledge aspirations come on the heels of warnings by Australian businesses that slow Internet speeds were putting them off investing in Malaysia.

Malaysia Australia Business Council vice-chairman Michael Halpin said large technical documents from Australia had difficulty getting sent over because of the poor quality broadband.

“Australian and American investors see this as a nuisance and an impediment to them to do business successfully here,” he said.

In a press briefing on Intel’s roadmap for 2010, Patel observed Malaysian consumers pay significantly more for broadband, but even to buy broadband wholesale as a service provider was ‘“frighteningly expensive” compared to its neighbours.

His comparison of regional costs showed Malaysian broadband offers some of the lowest speeds in the region, but at the highest costs.

For the fastest bandwidth of 100 megabit per second, Singapore users pay nearly US$85 (RM286.56) or US$10.20 mbps.

For 4mbps in Malaysia, consumers pay US$76 or US$35 mbps. Vietnam’s 3mbps bandwidth — although a tad slower — costs users US$50.55, or US$16.85 mbps.

In the region, broadband costs in Indonesia and India also tend to be higher.

TM is likely to resist liberalisation as it has invested huge sums in infrastructure and now owns or leases capacity on more than 10 submarine cable networks which span more than 60,000 fibre-route miles.

But Patel said if Malaysia aspires to be a knowledge-based society, it needs to get more computers as well as quality and affordable broadband into more homes.

“(And) the single biggest link has to do with landing rights.”

Malaysia is aiming for 50 per cent household broadband penetration next year from about 30 per cent now. Broadband users can access 10MB speeds next year when TM rolls out high-speed broadband in selected suburbs in the Klang Valley in the first phase of its nationwide rollout.

Last month, Thailand broke a state-owned enterprise hold on submarine cable landing rights in the country by granting a licence to the first private operator, True Internet Gateway Co Ltd, which pointed out it would be able to source submarine bandwidth capacity from a wide range of providers directly, resulting in greater bandwidth being available at more competitive prices.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

China banks' rush for billions could trip markets


Chinese banks, under government pressure to shore up their finances, are set to unleash a wave of billions of dollars in capital raising that could strain equity markets but also spur innovation in debt instruments.

The banks could go to the market with a slew of new stock and bond offers as they look to raise as much as 300 billion yuan ($44 billion) over the next few years, according to some estimates.

The move would follow a surge in bank lending in the first half of this year, encouraged by the central government under its broader 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus plan. But now the regulator, worried about a lending bubble, is cautioning banks to ensure their capital is adequate.

Three of the country's top four listed banks, Bank of China Ltd , China Construction Bank and Bank of Communications have already started work on fundraising proposals, a source told Reuters on Monday.

"There's no doubt there will be a massive wave of fund raising from Chinese banks, but the key question is when, where and how," said Fan Kunxiang, analyst at Haitong Securities Co. "If banks all rush to sell shares within a short period, it would unavoidably be a blow to the stock market."

The Chinese lenders aren't the only ones in Asia looking to raise capital. Japan's banks, for instance, could be raising tens of billions of dollars to meet stricter capital rules. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group , Japan's top bank, said last week it would raise $11 billion to meet coming regulations.

In the latest wake-up call to lenders, China's top banking regulator Liu Mingkang warned in an article published on Tuesday that banks need to protect themselves from credit risk caused by changes in the country's industrial structure.

Analysts said small- and medium-sized lenders could be the first to feel the pinch, lacking the resources of larger lenders.

In a potential sign of things to come, mid-sized Industrial Bank said on Monday it would raise up to $2.64 billion in a rights issue to plug a capital shortfall.

Earlier this year, rivals Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and China Minsheng Banking Corp announced plans to raise a total of about 53 billion yuan via share sales.


Chinese banks must keep their capital adequacy ratio -- a key measure of their ability to absorb losses -- above 8 percent by law. But regulators late last year urged small- and mid-sized listed lenders to aim for 10 percent or higher.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission has used various measures to tighten those rules this year and repeatedly warned against reckless lending.

Bank of China's capital adequacy ratio stood at 11.6 percent as of September 30, compared with 12.6 percent for ICBC , China's largest lender, and 12.1 percent for China Construction Bank. All were well above the 8 percent regulatory minimum.

Concerns about new capital raising have weighed on banking stocks since mid-year when the regulator first started signaling its caution.

Shanghai-listed shares of ICBC are up a scant 1.3 percent since mid-year, while Bank of China is up 2.3 percent and China Construction Bank is up 4.2 percent. All those are well behind a 13.2 percent rise for the broader market.

The need for more capital could continue to weigh, and even spread if the broader market cannot absorb the huge sums of new funds required.

"The market has largely priced in expectations of fund-raisings by banks," said Wu Yonggang, analyst at Guotai Junan Securities. "But if regulators suddenly raise ratio requirements ... all banks will be short of capital, and that would scare investors in the stock market."

The looming pressure is already forcing market players to look at other ways of raising capital.

Some of those, including use of debt markets, could provide an opportunity for China to introduce innovative financial instruments, such as bonds with deferrable interest payments, said Liao Qiang, an analyst at Standard & Poor's.

"Compared with overseas markets, China has very limited types of instruments in the debt market that banks can use to replenish capital," Liao said. "There's room for innovation."

Other analysts pointed out the new capital raising could come over a longer period, which would lighten the load on markets.

None of China's dual-listed banks need new equity now, but there may be such a need over the next two to three years, Citigroup said in a November 19 report. Bank of China also said on Tuesday it is studying various ways to raise capital but has no plans for now to do so.

"I think big banks such as Bank of China and China Construction Bank are not in a hurry to raise capital, but it's natural for them to start thinking about it," said Guotai's Wu.

(US$1=6.832 Yuan)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Xenophobia against immigrant workers

Zimbabwean migrants in search of employment in South Africa are facing persecution from local people who are blaming them for taking their jobs.The persecution, which forced about 2,000 migrants to seek refuge in a rugby stadium, began on Tuesday when the migrants' shacks in a farming community in De Doorns were levelled.Local residents say they are tired of competing with Zimbabweans for space and jobs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A visit to the unofficial capital of Southern Italy - Naples

Amanda and the 48 team visit the unofficial capital of Southern Italy - Naples

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Venice Losing Residents but Not Dead Yet

The historic city of Venice, Italy, with its famous waterways and beautiful buildings is losing official residents at a rapid rate causing some people to say it is now a "living museum" and to hold a mock funeral over the weekend. But city officials say millions of tourists still flock to the famous city and there are still thousands of "unofficial" residents and there are efforts underway to bring people back. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from Venice.


Zimbabwe and the 2010 world cup.

Africa is gearing up for the football, or soccer, World Cup due to be held in seven months. Host South Africa is spending billions of dollars improving sports, transportation and tourism facilities. But neighboring countries are also hoping to cash in on the two billion dollars sports fans are expected to spend during the month-long extravaganza. VOA's Scott Bobb visited Zimbabwe's tourism trade fair (in October) and has this report from Harare.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Economics 101 - Boom and Burst Cycle.

Chris Harman - talk abot the burst & boom is an inherent logic in a capitalist economic system. Every 10 years more or less this cycle takes place.He is a socialist. He spoke at Kings College London about the recent economic failrue in America, by corporations claimed to be too big too fail.

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