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Brazil To Limit Private Stakes To 5% In Eletrobras Privatization

September 5, 2017 Tsvetana Paraskova 0

Brazil will allow private investors willing to buy into its state-held utility giant Eletrobras to obtain a maximum of 5 percent each, regardless of whether they are domestic or foreign investors, Brazilian Planning Minister Dyogo Oliveira has told the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper in an interview. At the end of last month, Brazil proposed a plan to put up for privatization 57 major state infrastructure assets, including selling some or all of its 51-percent stake in Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras—as Eletrobras is officially named—by…

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PetroChina wraps unit revamp at Qinzhou refining complex

September 5, 2017 Latest News 0

PetroChina Co. Ltd.—the publicly listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.
(CNPC)—has completed a project to retrofit an existing pressure-swing
adsorption (PSA) unit at subsidiary CNPC Guangxi Petrochemical Co.’s 10
million-tonne/year Qinzhou integrated refining complex in China’s
Gaungxi province with proprietary process technology from Honeywell UOP
LLC.

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Somalia: Chief justice suspends 18 judges

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Somalia’s Chief Justice Ibrahim Iidle Saleeban today suspended 18 judges in the capital Mogadishu, in response to public complaints about their rulings, according to the state news agency SONNA. Six of the judges – the Banadir Regional Court chief and the Abdiaziz and Hamar Jajab district court chairs, plus three judges from the Banadir Regional Court – had been appointed by Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, the country’s previous president. Three judges from the Regional Appeals Court were also suspended. Read: UN mission in Somalia extended Also suspended were the chairs of the following court districts: Shangani, Yaqshiid, Dharkinley, Hamarweyne, Dayniile and also four judges operating in Hamar Jajab, Dayniile, Yaqshiid and Dharkinley. On 8 February, incoming President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo promised reforms […]

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Jerusalem schools strike as Israel curriculum imposed on them

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Teachers have gone on strike in Jerusalem in protest against attempts to impose the Israeli curriculum in Arab schools and the dilapidated infrastructure in which they are forced to work. Three schools took part in the civil action, including one each in Silwan, Al-Issawiya and Shuafat in occupied East Jerusalem. The head of the parents’ committee in Shuafat, Ashraf Al-Ais, said the strike followed a series of policies imposed by the Israeli municipality on them each year. He told Quds Press that the curriculum is the worst which has been forced upon them in four years. Read: Israel evicts Palestinian family, hands East Jerusalem home to settlers Sawsan Al-Safadi, public relations officer at the Education Directorate, said the three schools were […]

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“We’ve Lost An Important Regulator On Those Who Can Seriously Mess With Our Lives”

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Traders have become so complacent at the lack of volatility in markets that it is no surprise that a few percentage points shifts here or there in the last few days as the world inches toward total thermonuclear disaster have shaken a few. However, as former fund manager Richard Breslow gently reminds us – this is nothing… and that could be a problem, chiding traders to “stop pretending that you care about the end of the world.”

Since the first missiles were fired across Japan last weekend in what was the most provocative North Korean move yet, only one thing has really moved…

 

Via Bloomberg,

We really need to stop feigning that the markets reacted in any meaningful way to this past weekend’s news from the Korean peninsula. There was some barely measurable knee jerk response as traders were only too happy to accommodate stop/loss orders and then, not so much. Unless you want to count the endless explanations about why this would be bad for the global supply chain and who, what, why and when something counts as a “safe haven.”  Just to be clear, nothing moved enough to indicate any panic or identify where safety can really be found. And that isn’t all good.

Asset prices pretend to be consumed with issues politic, but in fact trivialize everything.

We’ve lost an important regulator on the behavior of those with the ability to seriously mess with our lives.

Mixed in with my emails about the end of the world were discussions about where we should try putting additional money to work. AKA buying the dip. The UN Security Council was meeting in emergency session. Reports have been circulating of another missile being moved into position. And right on cue, I’ve just been reading that all that other stuff aside, this will be a week driven by central banks. Now that, at least, sounds familiar.

 

Don’t get me wrong. The last thing I want is trouble anywhere in the world. Certainly not this kind. Nor am I an advocate for playing the drama queen on a serial basis. But bad things are more likely to happen if we assume away that which isn’t easy to understand as to its potential ramifications.

 

Just for the record, buying yen or yuan under the circumstances is a dubious strategy. China didn’t string radiation detectors all along its border with North Korea because this is just a threat that will be localized to Guam.

 

Lest you think, I’m just venting outrage (there I go using that banned word again), at how algorithms are programmed for these sorts of events, I did get a laugh a few hours ago. I was reading why the now cohesively run euro zone was the new go-to place whenever trouble rears its ugly head. When, suddenly, I was interrupted by electronic shouts that the shared currency had just been knocked down to the day’s low because Italian and French PMIs came in light. And this is supposed to be a market that has its priorities straight?

 

Just for the record, with the exception of gold, you’d be hard pressed to find any asset price levels that don’t look entirely familiar. Going back to prices we saw late last week doesn’t denote a circumstance where we’re in uncharted (pun) territory.

Finally, Breslow explains what the market is really afraid of…

“It’s a strange world when UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warning that Kim Jong Un is “begging for war” will get knocked off the top of the playlist by Lael Brainard telling you she’s data-dependent about a rate hike that could happen three months from now.”

Indeed it is.

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Venezuela’s Grim Reaper – A Weekly Report

September 5, 2017 Steve H. Hanke 0

Authored by Steve H. Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke.

The Grim Reaper has taken his scythe to the Venezuelan bolivar. The death of the bolivar is depicted in the following chart. A bolivar is worthless, and with its collapse, Venezuela is witnessing the world’s worst inflation. 

 

As the bolivar collapsed and inflation accelerated, the Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) became an unreliable source of inflation data. Indeed, from December 2014 until January 2016, the BCV did not report inflation statistics. Then, the BCV pulled a rabbit out of its hat in January 2016 and reported a phony annual inflation rate for the third quarter of 2015. So, the last official inflation data reported by the BCV is almost two years old. To remedy this problem, the Johns Hopkins – Cato Institute Troubled Currencies Project, which I direct, began to measure Venezuela’s inflation in 2013. 

The most important price in an economy is the exchange rate between the local currency and the world’s reserve currency — the U.S. dollar. As long as there is an active black market (read: free market) for currency and the black market data are available, changes in the black market exchange rate can be reliably transformed into accurate estimates of countrywide inflation rates. The economic principle of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) allows for this transformation.

I compute the implied annual inflation rate on a daily basis by using PPP to translate changes in the VEF/USD exchange rate into an annual inflation rate. The chart below shows the course of that annual rate, which peaked at 1823% (yr/yr) in early August 2017. At present, Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is 1805%, the highest in the world (see the chart below).

 

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Leaked Brexit Document Reveals UK Hardline Plan To Deter EU Immigrants

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

According to a document leaked by the Guardian and prepared by the Home Office, the UK has prepared a “hardline” Brexit plan according to which Britain will end the free movement of labor immediately after Brexit and introduce restrictions “to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers.” The proposal seeks to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants, as well as a phased-in introduction to a new immigration system ending the right to settle in Britain for most European migrants.

While the end of free labor mobility was largely expected, the 82-page paper – marked as extremely sensitive and dated August 2017 – provides previously unreleased clarity and sets out for the first time how Britain intends to approach the controversial issue of immigration, “refocusing policy to put British workers first.”

As the document summarizes, “to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off.”

Specifically, the controversial draft proposes measures to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants – offering them residency for a maximum of only two years, in a document likely to cheer hardliners in the Tory party. Those in “high-skilled occupations” will be granted permits to work for a longer period of three to five years. Additionally, showing a passport will be mandatory for all EU nationals wanting to enter Britain. The paper also proposes introducing a system of temporary biometric residence permits for all EU nationals coming into the UK after Brexit for more than a few months.

The Home Office paper, entitled the Border, Immigration and Citizenship System After the UK Leaves the European Union, makes clear the proposals within it have yet to be endorsed by ministers, and are “subject to negotiations with EU”. But, as the Guardian writes, with the help of examples and flowcharts, the document sets out the direction of Home Office thinking in one of the most controversial subjects of the Brexit debate.

Plans to restrict EU immigration by giving “preference in the job market to resident workers”. The government could also restrict EU nationals from seeking work, reduce the opportunities for workers to settle in the UK long-term, and limit the number of EU citizens able to come to the UK to do low-skilled work.

Among the EU immigration proposals are:

  • Proposals for a “stepping stone” temporary implementation period for “at least two years” after Brexit day. That would be followed by the introduction of the full immigration policy for EU nationals.
  • Plans to scrap EU rules on the rights of extended family members to reside in the UK. The document says “there is virtually no limit on the distance of the relationship between the EU citizen and the family member” in the current system. “We propose to define family members as direct family members only, plus durable partners,” it adds.
  • If an EU national living in the UK wants to bring their spouse from outside the EU here, he or she will have to earn a minimum of £18,600 a year, bringing EU nationals in line with the restriction already imposed on Britons.
  • No new border checks for EU nationals entering the country, although they will be required to travel on a passport not a national identity card. Instead all new EU arrivals will have “deemed leave” to enter Britain for as yet unspecified period likely to between three and six months. After that, to stay longer, they will have to apply for a biometric residence permit, which may include a fingerprint.
  • In contrast to the “free movement directive”, residence permits will not be granted to jobseekers. A specific “income threshold” will be introduced for “self-sufficient” migrants.
  • Plans to introduce “right to work” checks. These would have to be carried out by employers, with criminal sanctions possible against companies and individuals if illegal working is discovered.

The draft’s release comes at a tenuous time for the UK’s Brexit negotiations, with recent soundbites from EU negotiators stating that “no progress” has been made on any of the key underlying issues. Since the proposals have yet to be endorsed by government ministers, they could merely be a trial balloon to gauge negotiation and market impact.

That said, it is unclear what the new document’s impact on sterling will be: with the GBPUSD having surged above 1.300 today on the latest plunge in the dollar, cable appears to have caught a bid following the report’s release on what some say is incremental clarity into Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating position, although it remains to be seen if the proposals will be sufficient to appease the crowd during the October EU summit, during which a determination must be made if enough Brexit progress has been to proceed to the next stage.

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that the EU’s deputy Brexit negotiator told German lawmakers that she’s “skeptical” talks with the U.K. will be able to move on to trade in October. Sabine Weyand briefed a special session of the European Affairs Committee of the lower house, or Bundestag, in Berlin on Monday and told lawmakers that no movement had been made in the key areas under discussion, those who attended the hearing said.

Given the scant advance made so far, Weyand said there’s no indication that the fourth round of negotiations scheduled to begin on Sept. 18 will yield any more progress than the third, according to one of those present. As a result, she doesn’t currently see EU leaders agreeing when they next meet to turn to the U.K.’s relationship with the bloc after Brexit, both of those attending said.

Weyand, who is deputy to the chief European Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the Bundestag committee that she doesn’t see any progress being made before Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party conference at the beginning of October, according to one of those present. “In any case, the EU summit scheduled for Oct. 19-20 was never a binding date to agree to move on to the next phase of negotiations.”

The full leaked document can be found here.

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Oil Markets Rebound After Hurricane Harvey

September 5, 2017 Tom Kool 0

As the Gulf Coast recovers from Hurricane Harvey, another major hurricane may be right around the corner, spelling further trouble for energy markets. (Click to enlarge) (Click to enlarge) (Click to enlarge) (Click to enlarge)• Oman saw its oil production hit a record high last year at over 1 million barrels per day. • Oman is the seventh largest Middle Eastern oil producer and the largest non-OPEC producer in the region. • Nearly all of Oman’s oil production is exported, mostly to Asia, with 78 percent of it going to China.…

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Israel approves plan to build 4,500 settlement units in Jerusalem

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Israel’s National Council of Planning and Building (NCPB) today approved a new settlement plan to build thousands of settlement units on the hills of occupied Jerusalem. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on its website that the Israeli authorities consider construction in this area necessary because of the lack of land available for construction in occupied Jerusalem. The paper noted that the Society for the Protection of Nature and Environmental Groups protested against the plan because the construction will cause environmental damage to the landscape and springs in the region. According to the newspaper, the construction plan covers an area of ​​600 hectares on which 4,500 housing units will be built. Khalil Tafkaji, settlement expert and head of maps and land department at the Arab Studies Society, […]

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