Friday, October 28, 2011

Just fancy that!

So of all the media teams that have been through the Gaddafi compound in Sirte, the only one that found a Liverpool FC mug allegedly used by Gaddafi and nicely posed with the rest of the tea cups was the Daily Mail. Clearly all those other news outlets complaining about the Daily Mail just don't know how to find a too-good-to-be-true story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oil and defence contracts get the pulse racing, if he had a pulse

Via the Saudi Press Agency, an unusual sighting of Dick Cheney (other than for Fox News appearances) at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC.  It's a condolence call for Crown Prince Sultan and Dick is being greeted by the Ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, the subject of the alleged Iran-backed assassination plot.  That seems to be Liz Cheney skulking in the background.

EU countries: whatever we do, don't do what Ireland did

From the statement of the European Union heads of government council meeting:

A simple repetition of the 2008 experience with full national discretion in the setting-up of [bank] liquidity schemes may not provide a satisfactory solution under current market conditions.  

In other words, putting the entire balance sheet of your busted banks on the public debt, like Ireland, hasn't worked that out well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stick to All Murdoch All The Time

Guardian, 18 October --

France and Germany have reached agreement to boost the eurozone's rescue fund to €2tn (£1.75tn) as part of a "comprehensive plan" to resolve the sovereign debt crisis, which this weekend's summit should endorse, EU diplomats said.

Guardian (same reporter David Gow), 20 October

Europe was thrown into fresh chaos on Thursday after a failure to resolved deep differences between France and Germany forced the postponement of a new plan to save the single currency. A joint statement from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, admitted that a deal at the weekend was now unachievable and that talks in Brussels on Sunday would be followed by a second summit next Wednesday.

The original report was market-moving.  Given the sums of money involved, is the Guardian going to name their 18 October sources?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our friends the speculators

Wall Street Journal:

MF Global's complex trades involved debt from Portugal, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Ireland, according to the securities filings. The debt has high yields because of the troubles that the countries are facing.  MF Global believed the debt was relatively safe since it matures by the end of next year and may be backed by the European Financial Stability Facility, people familiar with the matter said.  MF Global exited from other higher-yielding trades to free up more capital when regulators required the changes, according to people familiar with the matter.

MF Global is the investment firm of former Goldman Sachs executive and New Jersey governor Jon Corzine.  At least one question: what were the other high-yielding positions that got dumped in the expectation that the Eurozone is underpinning the value of dodgy member country bonds?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The opera is the thing

Oman News Agency --

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said presided over the official opening of the Royal Opera House this evening ... After a short break, His Majesty headed to the Royal Box where the Royal Guard of Oman band played the national anthem. His Majesty then gave permission to start the ceremony programme which included three opera performances by Opera Turandot "The Power of Love" directed by Franco Zeffirelli and led by the maestro Giacomo Puccini.

The bachelor Sultan at the opera about the unobtainable (Persian?) woman.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

iPhone 4S reviews

Walter Mossberg (Wall Street Journal): When I asked for a "French restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland," it instantly returned a list from Yelp, ranked by user reviews ... The system understands multiple, colloquial forms of a question. I asked, "Will the weather get worse today?" and Siri answered, "I don't think the weather is going to get worse" and displayed a weather chart. 

David Pogue (New York Times):  You can say, “Wake me up at 7:35,” or “Change my 7:35 alarm to 8.” You can say, “What’s Gary’s work number?” Or, “How do I get to the airport?” Or, “Any good Thai restaurants around here?”  ... It’s mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be. Siri understands everything from, “What’s the weather going to be like in Tucson this weekend?” to “Will I need an umbrella tonight?” (She has various amusing responses for “What is the meaning of life?”)

MG Siegler (Tech Crunch): You really have to use it yourself to see just how great Siri actually is. Using it for the past week, I’ve done everything from getting directions, to sending emails, to sending text messages, to looking up information on WolframAlpha, to getting restaurant recommendations on Yelp, to taking notes, to setting reminders, to setting calendar appointments, to setting alarms, to searching the web.

Brian Chen (Wired): Tonight I’m meeting my friend Peter, who wants to eat steak, so I can say, “I want prime rib” to find steakhouses nearby.

Rich Jaroslovsky (Bloomberg): When I asked Siri, “Will I need an umbrella tonight?” its robotic female voice informed me, “There’s no rain in the forecast,” while the screen displayed the weather report for my location. When I told it to find me a good Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood, it displayed a listing ranked by Yelp ratings.

Enough about the device: is there something about being a technology reviewer and anxiety about being outside and (1) it's raining, and (2) not being able to pick a restaurant?

We need to elect a new people

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet in interview with Die Welt:

Do you have the impression that the Heads of Government have understood what is at stake?

I believe they are conscious of their extraordinary responsibility. They all have to make decisions in the context of democracies which, in the advanced economies, are very inward-looking, which is a real problem at the time of the worst global crisis for the last 66 years.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Celtic Tiger banking

Irish Times

The case relates to loans provided by Bank of Scotland to HSS, Jeffel and Park Associates Ltd - the Mansfield group - of which Mr Mansfield is a director. The loans were advanced for purchase of lands and for development of a conference office, a golf course, residential units and a hotel.

Mr Leonard said business was conducted between Mr Mansfield and the bank via verbal agreements on funding, with the “paperwork” put in place later. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

From Dublin to Brussels by carrier pigeon


And growing expectations of a Greek sovereign default threaten to unleash a banking crisis in Europe and aggravate a global economic slowdown. "The negative feedback loop between sovereigns and banks is materializing," said a senior EU official in the thick of the fire-fighting.

Er, does unnamed senior EU official think that something other than a negative feedback loop between banks and the sovereign was happening in Ireland from September 2008 onwards?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

There's a term for that

Saudi Ministry of Interior statement carried by official news agency concerning riots in Qatif --

At the same time, the Ministry of Interior calls upon the rational members of their families, those of whose loyalties we have no doubts, to bear their responsibilities towards their sons; otherwise, all will bear the consequences of their actions.

The term is "collective punishment."

No Second Troy

Michael Lewis:

On the difference between Ireland and Greece, Lewis said: "The Irish just have a greater talent for suffering. If you imposed on the Greeks what the Irish have imposed on the Irish population, people would be getting shot."

By the way, that Greek austerity is no picnic either.