Strategies & Market TrendsThe Financial Collapse of 2001 and Beyond

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To: TobagoJack who wrote (89276)4/23/2012 3:28:18 AM
From: 2MAR$
1 Recommendation   of 119579
Once in a while have to throw in a little "Mish Shedlock" :o)<>European Splintering Escalates: Dutch Government Falls; Slovakia Government Collapsed in March; Czech Government Collapse Coming Right Up

The Netherlands government has officially collapsed in a dispute over austerity measures. Elections likely in September. Meanwhile, the Czech government is also on the verge of collapse, for the same reason: austerity measures.

The Financial Times reports Dutch government falls over budget talks

The Dutch governing coalition collapsed on Saturday when far-right politician Geert Wilders pulled out of budget cut talks, saying it was not in the Netherlands’ interest to meet the deficit limit of three per cent imposed by the new European fiscal pact.

EU-imposed austerity measures have cost leaders in southern European countries, including Greece, Italy and Spain, their jobs. With the fall of the conservative Dutch government, and the possibility that Nicolas Sarkozy may lose the French presidential election that begins on Sunday, the damage seems to have spread to Europe’s prosperous north.

Highlighting widespread voter anger over EU-imposed budget cuts, Mr Wilders said he could not allow Dutch citizens to “pay out of their pockets for the senseless demands of Brussels”.

“We don’t want to follow Brussels’ orders. We don’t want to make our retirees bleed for Brussels’ diktats,” Mr Wilders said.

The loss of Mr Wilders’ support left the conservative government of Mark Rutte, prime minister, with just over a third of the seats in parliament.

Highlighting widespread voter anger over EU-imposed budget cuts, Mr Wilders said he could not allow Dutch citizens to “pay out of their pockets for the senseless demands of Brussels”.

“We don’t want to follow Brussels’ orders. We don’t want to make our retirees bleed for Brussels’ diktats,” Mr Wilders said.

The loss of Mr Wilders’ support left the conservative government of Mark Rutte, prime minister, with just over a third of the seats in parliament.

Mr Rutte and other party leaders said that made new elections inevitable. He is expected to offer his cabinet’s resignation to the Dutch Queen on Monday, but leave the cabinet in place as a caretaker government until elections are held, probably in September.

Exiting the government at this stage will allow Mr Wilders to disclaim any responsibility for unpopular budget cuts. But the biggest winner in elections could be the far-left eurosceptic Socialist party, which has seen its support rise to as much as 20 per cent of the electorate over the past year.

Meanwhile, Dutch analysts said the inability of even the prosperous, deficit-averse Netherlands to generate voter support for Europe-directed budget cuts called the sustainability of the EU fiscal pact into question.

Czech Government Collapse On the Way

Please consider Czech protesters stage anti-government rally

The Czech government faces a test of its ability to continue governing after an ambitious fiscal tightening programme splintered the ruling coalition and brought tens of thousands of protesters on to the streets of Prague at the weekend.

Petr Necas, premier, has set a Monday deadline for a breakaway group from Public Affairs – the smallest of the three parties that made up his centre-right coalition – to demonstrate that it has the support of at least 10 MPs, which would give him a working majority in the 200-member parliament.

Mr Necas has sacrificed much of his popularity after introducing a series of tax increases and benefit cuts in order to keep the budget deficit below 3 per cent next year. The additional measures were brought in after the Czech Republic posted worse than expected growth numbers – largely a consequence of the slowdown in the eurozone, the country’s largest export market.

“We cannot behave in a populist way and we must continue our policy of budget responsibility and debt reduction,” Mr Necas told reporters after one of the largest demonstrations in the Czech Republic’s post-communist history filled the streets of the capital on Saturday to protest at his policies and to show disgust with political corruption.

Organisers estimated that about 120,000 people attended, many of them jangling keys as a signal for the government to go – an echo of the protests that ousted the communists in 1989.

Slovakia Government Collapse

In case you missed it, the right-wing Slovakia government collapsed in March.

The Guardian reports Central Europe's centre-right teeters under corruption claims

Austria, Slovakia, Croatia and Czech Republic gripped by sleaze allegations involving senior politicians and governing parties.

Ruling parties, political elites and former ministers in a string of EU countries are embroiled in cash-for-influence scandals that are exposing widespread allegations of corruption, triggering public revulsion and a voters' backlash.

Hunting parties, expensive gifts, drunken car crashes, secret police wiretaps, paper bags stuffed with money and public budgets being treated as private accounts all feature in the lurid revelations and allegations being leaked daily on to the front pages of central Europe.

Austria, Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic are in the throes of sleaze allegations involving senior politicians and governing parties said to be funded by dirty money.

Tales of criminality, thuggery, and vast amounts of cash flowing to politicians from companies, lobbyists, and middlemen are dominating the newspapers and blogosphere across central Europe. In contrast, successful prosecutions are extremely rare for a political class that often seems to operate with impunity. Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic are in the throes of major sleaze allegations involving senior politicians and governing parties said to be funded by dirty money.

In Austria a special parliamentary committee investigating political corruption is questioning serving and former ministers this week about a convoluted web of alleged bribery and profiteering from government tenders and skewed legislation.

In an election this month next door in Slovakia, the new prime minister, Robert Fico, won a landslide after support for his rivals on the right collapsed when secret police files about the buying and selling of MPs were unearthed by a Canadian journalist and posted on the internet.

The secret police files, codenamed Gorilla, featured wiretaps of leading financiers meeting discreetly with centre-right governing politicians to trade government tenders for cash.

the latest scandal to rock the region centres on a Czech businessman and a former Prague mayor who are accused of in effect controlling the city's €2bn budget between them.

The businessman, Roman Janoušek, had long been labelled the "shadow mayor" owing to his close links with city hall, but it was not until transcripts of what are believed to be wiretaps of conversations between him and his long-time ally, former Prague city mayor Pavel Bém, were published in the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes that the scale of their alleged rigging of the city finances started to come to light.

The conversations appear to include discussions about influencing sales of city and public property, arranging expensive gifts for city officials and fixing high-ranking official posts.

On May 6 the Greek government is likely to collapse, and Nicolas Sarkozy will be ousted as president of France.

Meanwhile New "Temporary" Border Controls are tantamount to a Vote of No Confidence in Europe

Other than four ousted governments, Troika imposed governments in Greece and Italy, huge budget misses in Spain, increased protectionist measures in France, border controls, bickering between the ECB and the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank proclamation "Not ECB's Job to Tackle Spain's Problems", Europe is holding together quite nicely.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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From: 2MAR$4/23/2012 3:50:04 AM
   of 119579
German April flash manufacturing PMI 46.3 Down from March final read of 48.4 and some way below Reuter’s median forecast of 49.0.

By Gerry Davies || April 23, 2012 at 07:31 GMT
|| 0 comments || Add comment

Fastest contraction since July 2009. Something of a shocker!!

April services PMI 52.6, up from final March read of 52.1 and very marginally stronger than Reuter’s median forecast of 52.3.

Data has fuelled extension of EUR/USD sell-off, presently at new session low of 1.3144

German PMI Takes a Dip, Still Pointing to Recession:

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To: 2MAR$ who wrote (89347)4/23/2012 7:47:38 AM
From: elmatador
   of 119579
Belgium sworn in a new government, after a record-breaking 541 days of political deadlock.

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To: 2MAR$ who wrote (89347)4/23/2012 7:50:26 AM
From: elmatador
   of 119579
Brazil's Rousseff achieves record approval

Has money government good.

No money? Government bad. Expect much more government mayhem in Europe

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's administration reached a record-high approval rating in April

Sixty-four percent of Brazilians believe Rousseff's administration is doing a good or excellent job, up from 59 percent in January, the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said, citing a poll by its Datafolha research division.

It is the highest approval rating for Rousseff's administration since she took office in January 2011, the newspaper said.

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To: 2MAR$ who wrote (89348)4/23/2012 8:42:37 AM
From: Haim R. Branisteanu
   of 119579
From what I read over teh weekend this was more or less anticipated.

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To: elmatador who wrote (89349)4/23/2012 9:03:02 AM
From: dalroi
   of 119579

and during the absence of governement our economy did good

as long as there was no governement no need to throw money away on "stimulus"

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To: Haim R. Branisteanu who wrote (89335)4/23/2012 9:27:59 AM
From: elmatador
   of 119579
China will face a serious shortage of mineral resources by 2020 as it consumes an increasing amount of them to promote its industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi told Xinhua in an exclusive interview to mark the 43rd "Earth Day."

The prediction was based on surveys of recoverable reserves of 45 kinds of major minerals, Xu said, adding that China will have to sharply increase imports of minerals in short supply to meet demand over the next 10 to 20 years.

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To: elmatador who wrote (89307)4/23/2012 9:36:08 AM
From: The Jack of Hearts
   of 119579
So essentially it needs to produce cheaper at home.. so I guess a middle class American will earn like a middle class Chinese then.. woohoo can't wait :O)

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To: The Jack of Hearts who wrote (89354)4/23/2012 9:52:44 AM
From: elmatador
   of 119579
Other countries will compete with China for access for those resources. Other countries used to inflated prices and will pay.

US consumer will have to consume less (conspicuous consumption) to pay for consumption of essentials.

I keep trying to explain this to Bearcatbob in the Big Dog thread but he refuses to understand it.

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To: elmatador who wrote (89355)4/23/2012 9:57:21 AM
From: The Jack of Hearts
   of 119579
LOL.. is nothing sacred..

A Wal Mart store in Tijuana, Mexico. Photographer: Nadia Borowski Scott/SDU-T/Zuma Press

Bloomberg News Wal-Mart Bribery Probe May Expose Retailer to U.S. Fines

By David Welch and Thom Weidlich on April 23, 2012
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  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) ( WMT)’s probe of possible bribery in Mexico may prompt executive departures and steep U.S. government fines if it reveals senior managers knew about the payments and didn’t take strong enough action, corporate governance experts said.

    Wal-Mart said in an April 21 statement it is looking into a New York Times story that said its representatives in Mexico bribed local officials to get stores opened faster and that executives probed allegations as far back as 2005. In a December 2011 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing ( WMT), Wal-Mart said it was examining whether it was in compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, without saying what region or time period was in question.

    At the time Wal-Mart conducted an initial internal probe and ended it in 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice was starting to crack down on foreign bribery cases. Waiting for years to disclose the case may mean tougher sanctions for the retailer and for individuals, governance and legal experts said.

    “Does the conduct at issue squarely fall into the type of enforcement actions the DOJ and SEC have been bringing over the last couple of years? That answer is clearly yes,” said Michael Koehler, a law professor at Butler University in Indianapolis who runs the FCPA Professor blog. “If there is enforcement action, the DOJ and SEC are likely to be more harsh because of how it handled this situation over the last six years.”

    Auditing Firms Wal-Mart, in its April 21 statement, said it takes compliance with the corruption law seriously and is moving to find out what happened. When asked yesterday whether the retailer’s board was notified about the allegations in 2005 and why the company didn’t move sooner, spokesman David Tovar said, “That’s one of the things we are looking into.”

    Wal-Mart has hired auditing firm KPMG and law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP for a compliance review of its global operations and law firm Jones Day to investigate its Mexican operations, said a person familiar with the matter.

    Tovar said the company isn’t making executives available for comment.

    The expansion of Wal-Mart de Mexico, mainly in the last decade, left the world’s largest retailer with about 20 percent of its stores in Mexico, out of more than 10,000 worldwide. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart’s sales ( WMT) rose about 6 percent last year to $447 billion. Wal-Mart has more than doubled the number of stores in Mexico to 2,088 since 2008.

    Slowing Growth The investigation may slow Wal-Mart’s growth in the country if authorities there feel pressure to show more scrutiny of its permits, Robert Carroll, an analyst at UBS AG in New York, said today in a report.

    Settlements involving the corrupt practices act are typically 1 percent to 2 percent of sales, and that would be about $4.5 billion per 1 percentage point of sales for Wal-Mart, Carroll said. FCPA investigations take 2 years to 6 years to settle, he said. The largest such settlement ever was $1.6 billion paid by Siemens AG (SIE) in 2008, he said.

    Wal-Mart fell 3 percent to $60.60 at 7:45 a.m. in New York. The shares had risen 4.5 percent this year before today, trailing Minneapolis-based Target Corp. (TGT) ( TGT)’s 12 percent gain.

    Wal-Mart executives, including then-Chief Executive Officer and current board member Lee Scott, were made aware of the bribery allegations in 2005, the New York Times reported. So was Mike Duke, the current CEO, who at the end of that year was just taking over international operations, the article said.

    Scott didn’t return a phone call to his home.

    Shareholder Pressure Wal-Mart will face pressure from shareholders to take action against any executives who didn’t act fully on the bribery allegations sooner, said Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

    “If this is all true, it’s problematic,” Elson said in a telephone interview. “If any officer was significantly involved, their position has to be reviewed. You have to do the investigating and determine what did the CEO know and when.”

    The Times article said the bribes may have amounted to more than $24 million in payments.

    The Times identified executive Eduardo Castro-Wright as a central figure in the expansion of the alleged payments. Castro- Wright ran Wal-Mart de Mexico as CEO from 2003 to 2005 and was president and chief operating officer of the unit from 2001 to 2003. Some of the alleged bribery took place during that time, the newspaper reported.

    In a telephone interview, Tovar declined to discuss the future of Castro-Wright, who is now a Wal-Mart vice chairman scheduled to retire July 1.

    Voluntary Meeting Wal-Mart said it has met voluntarily with the Justice Department and the SEC to discuss the case. The company is also enhancing its audit procedures and internal controls to escalate to management possible violations of the bribery law.

    “We take compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act very seriously and are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program in every country in which we operate,” Tovar said in the company’s statement. “We will not tolerate noncompliance with FCPA anywhere or at any level of the company.”

    Wal-Mart started the latest investigation last fall through the board’s auditing committee, and Tovar said in the statement that the company hasn’t reached any conclusions yet. Wal-Mart will conduct training for its employees and put in place more robust policies and controls, according to the statement.

    Hundreds of Documents The newspaper detailed the company’s 2005 investigation by examining hundreds of internal documents, as well as more than 15 hours of interviews with former Wal-Mart de Mexico executive Sergio Cicero Zapata, who recounted years of payoffs to government officials.

    The Times said it looked at thousands of government documents related to store permit requests throughout Mexico and found many instances of permits being granted within weeks or days of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s payments to two outside lawyers who gave cash to the officials.

    The Times report said that Wal-Mart decided in February 2006 to turn the investigation over to the then-general counsel of the Mexican subsidiary, Jose Luis Rodriguezmacedo Rivera, himself a target of the investigation. Rodriguezmacedo finished the probe within weeks, concluding there was no evidence of bribes paid to Mexican government officials, the Times said.

    Rodriguezmacedo declined to comment to the newspaper, and attempts by Bloomberg to reach him were unsuccessful.

    Company Investigation The Times reported that in December 2011, after learning of the newspaper’s reporting in Mexico, Wal-Mart told the Justice Department of its investigation into whether some of its actions violated U.S. anti-corruption laws. The company is investigating permitting, licensing and inspections, according to its form 10- Q filed with the SEC on Dec. 8, 2011.

    The company’s filing didn’t mention Mexico and stated that, “We do not believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.”

    Wal-Mart also has hired outside advisers to help with the investigation.

    “In a large global enterprise such as Wal-Mart, sometimes issues arise despite our best efforts and intentions,” Tovar said in the statement. “When they do, we take them seriously and act as quickly as possible to understand what happened. We take action and work to implement changes so the issue doesn’t happen again.”

    Growth Targets While Mexico may be an isolated case, “shareholders will be wondering about Wal-Mart’s other 25 markets,” Natalie Berg, an analyst at Planet Retail in London, said today in an interview. “International growth targets may need to be revised downward, at least in the near-term,” she said.

    The 1977 U.S. law bars companies or individuals regulated or based in the U.S. from paying bribes to foreign officials to win business. Foreign companies and nationals also can be prosecuted if their corrupt acts were committed in the U.S.

    In a crackdown on overseas bribery that started during the Bush administration, the government settled 57 cases against companies from 2005 through 2011 without trial, reaping $4.1 billion for the U.S. Treasury, according to Justice Department data. A push to prosecute more individual defendants during the same period has produced mixed results, with some beating charges outright and others getting less punishment than prosecutors sought.

    Corruption Reputation The Wal-Mart allegations will do nothing to help Mexico fight a reputation for government corruption. Latin America’s second-biggest economy last year fell to No. 100 out of 183 countries for perceived levels of corruption, according to Berlin-based Transparency International.

    Mexican Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said his government hasn’t decided whether to open a probe of its own. The government is collecting more information on the allegations, he said.

    “I’ve seen the story and we’re looking into it,” Meade said in an interview in Washington after participating in a panel discussion at the World Bank. He later told reporters in the hallway that officials “don’t have enough elements” to open an investigation and “when we have enough, we’ll decide how to proceed.”

    To contact the reporters on this story: David Welch in Detroit at; Thom Weidlich in New York at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at

    What Can I say :O)

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