Most major Asian markets kick off year with gains
Most markets across the Asian-Pacific region started 2010 on a positive note. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched up 0.1% and South Korea's Kospi Composite climbed 0.8%. Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.2%, India's Sensex added 0.5% and Singapore's Straits Times closed flat. China's Shanghai Composite dropped 1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up 0.2%. The Wall Street Journal (04 Jan.)
*memories are always short lived in the world of Wall Street and Congress. You weren't expecting anything diffrent were you?
Financial crisis has led to few changes, insiders say
The financial crisis prompted vows from regulators, investors, Wall Street executives, lawmakers and others that they will not allow the system to again undergo such a meltdown. However, few significant changes have been made. "We've been successful in identifying, appreciating and debating the big systemic issues," said Daniel Alpert, managing partner of Westwood Capital. "But we've done precious little to effect measures that reliably protect the future of our global financial system." The Wall Street Journal (03 Jan.)
*can you believe this guy? But I guess of course he has to say that for the benefit of his crony banking buddies. We can't possibly admit that we gave them too much money without any supervision. PUTZ!
Bernanke discusses rate increase, tighter regulation
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said if a fresh financial bubble forms, raising interest rates must be an option. He also defended the U.S. central bank's policy of keeping interest rates low during the past decade, rejecting claims that they caused the housing bubble. Bernanke put the blame on lax regulation. "We must be especially vigilant in ensuring that the recent experiences are not repeated," Bernanke told participants at the American Economic Association's annual meeting. Financial Times (tiered subscription model) (03 Jan.)
*pays to wait I guess. Too bad aviation is about to be decimated. But what do I know?
Offer for AIG's aircraft-leasing unit tops $12 billion
An aviation-services company offered to buy American International Group's aircraft-leasing business, International Lease Finance Corp., in a transaction that would value the unit at more than $12 billion. Allied Aviation Services said it has been unable to persuade AIG to respond to its offer or even comment on it. "We have support all over the country, but for some reason we can't get a response from AIG," said Robert Rose, Allied Aviation's president. Los Angeles Times (04 Jan.)
Pimco becomes more averse to risk
Pacific Investment Management Co. is scaling back its exposure to U.S. and U.K. government bonds, corporate debt, and mortgage-backed securities, according to an outlook for 2010 from the company. "This all leaves us with portfolios that appear, more than at other times, to be hugging the benchmarks with no bold positioning," portfolio manager Paul McCulley wrote. "We're making a very active decision to run light on risk." Bloomberg (04 Jan.)
Car dealers report brisk sales in closing days of 2009
A last-minute surge for car sales in 2009 is fueling hopes for a better 2010 for the U.S. auto industry. Even without government help, manufacturers' incentives are bringing buyers into showrooms and online to auto-sales sites, industry sources said. "We are seeing an increase across the board," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Edmunds.com, a vehicle-buying Web site. The Wall Street Journal (04 Jan.)
*gotta love this
Law allows companies to keep dangerous chemicals secret
The Obama administration and environmental groups are asking the U.S. Congress to change a law that allows companies to keep secret their use of dangerous chemicals if disclosure will hurt their profitability. The exemption was written into the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act to protect trade secrets. The Obama administration said use of the exemption has gone too far, preventing the public from knowing about their exposure to dangerous chemicals and keeping regulators from learning about potential hazards they need to control. The Washington Post (04 Jan.)
Municipalities sold more than $400 billion in debt in 2009
In 2009, U.S. municipalities sold $409.13 billion in debt, the second-heaviest year ever, according to Thomson Reuters. Several factors contributed to the sales, including investors' willingness to own bonds with some risk of default and lack of liquidity. The Federal Reserve's policy of low interest rates also likely drove investors into bonds as they yielded more than bank deposits and money-market funds. However, the Build America Bonds program is seen as the biggest contributor to the surge. The Bond Buyer (free content) (04 Jan.)
China, India drive radical transformation in German economy
A painful yet necessary restructuring is under way within the German economy as the nation, long the world's biggest exporter, makes radical changes for it to compete with China and India. One example is the decision by industrial giant ThyssenKrupp, seeing no future in shipbuilding, to give up its operations in the North Sea port of Emden. A buyer, SIAG Schaaf Industrie, has a different future in mind. Schaaf wants to spend $58 million on equipment at the shipyard to build underwater foundations for wind farms. Der Spiegel (Germany) (English online version) (31 Dec.)