Links: 2013-02-18

This is a short links post today but I plan to revisit some of the themes here, particularly the LG mobile output. As I have been saying, even though LG and HTC are sort of like the Packard Bell and Gateway firms of today’s mobile hardware OEMs, they churn out units people buy. It’s not all about Samsung in the Android space, volume-wise, though it may be profit-wise. The problem Apple faces is that there are a lot of Android manufacturers flooding the market with product and this will create Android platform stickiness. More on this later

News links for 18 February 2013

Amazon sacks German security firm following ‘neo-Nazi’ allegations — Tech News and Analysis

“Days after a documentary alleged the harassment and intimidation of foreign temporary workers at Amazon’s German distribution centers, the U.S. firm has cut ties with security company HESS.”

Germany calls for sweeping EU-US free trade deal – Telegraph

“German economy minister Philipp Roesler wants the European Union and the United States to reach a comprehensive transatlantic free trade agreement rather than settle for the limited deal some southern EU nations favour.”

House prices ‘hit five-year high’ – Telegraph

“The housing market has made a “sprightly” start to 2013, with asking prices reaching their highest levels for February since 2008, a property search website said on Monday.”

Japanese shares near four-year highs as yen slumps – Telegraph

“Japanese shares surged 2.1pc on Monday and were on the brink of revisiting four-year highs tapped recently, as the yen slumped after Tokyo dodged direct criticism from G20 peers on its aggressive reflation plans that have weakened the currency.”

Mrs. Watanabe Dumping Australia Debt Signals Turn for Yen – Bloomberg

“Japanese investors are selling record amounts of Australian debt, betting a rout in the yen that sent it to a four-year low against the Aussie dollar has run its course.

The biggest investors in Australia’s bonds cut holdings by 652.6 billion yen ($7 billion) over November and December, the most in Ministry of Finance data going back to 2005. Benchmark 10-year yields climbed 57 basis points since Sept. 30, heading for the longest stretch of monthly increases in 3 1/2 years. Australian government bonds returned 37 percent in yen terms over the past five years, the most among 26 developed markets tracked by Bloomberg.”

Spain’s Bad Loans Drop Sharply –

This is not an ACTUAL improvement in credit quality but an improvement in bank balance sheets because of the  bailout by the state. In terms of ACTUAL loans throughout the economy, the question on bad loans in Spain is whether any drop is simply under-provisioning and regulatory forbearance or a real drop. I have doubts here.

“The Bank of Spain said Monday that bad debts held by the country’s banks dropped sharply in December from November because of the transfer of lower-quality credit portfolios to the so-called bad bank that started operations that month.

Nonperforming loans fell by €24.1 billion ($32.20 billion) to €167.4 billion, or 10.4% of total outstanding loans, in December, preliminary data from the central bank showed. That compares with a bad-loan ratio of 11.4% in November, the highest ever recorded.”

BBC News – German economy to return to growth, says Bundesbank

“”As it currently looks, a plus in economic output can be expected in the first quarter of this year,” the Bundesbank said.

The report continued: “For the rest of this year, the economy is expected to pick up gradually, even if the external economic environment will provide no trigger for a sharp surge in demand.””

BBC News – Amazon dismisses German warehouse security firm

“”Amazon has zero-tolerance for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same from every company we work with,” a spokesperson for Amazon said.

The documentary by state broadcaster ARD showed the conditions of employees at the warehouse in Bad Hersfeld, in the state of Hesse, brought in to help with the Christmas rush.

It claimed employees’ rooms were searched, they were frisked at breakfast and constantly watched.

Many of the temporary workers came from Spain and Poland, and foreign workers were shown receiving the worst harassment from security guards.”

LG reveals 5.5-inch Optimus Pro G, taking on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 — Tech News and Analysis

“The handset is LG’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, only with more pixels, a slightly beefier processor and no stylus. It’s out in South Korea this week, and elsewhere – including the U.S. – later.”

LG touts 15 million Optimus L Series phones sold like so many refrigerators

“As stylish as it can be, LG’s Optimus L Series is very appliance-like, the smartphone line that gets the job done versus the more luxuriant Optimus G. It’s almost no surprise, then, that LG’s sales rate has accelerated to the volume we’d expect from an air conditioner or fridge: just two months after the L Series hit 10 million in sales since launch, it’s already at 15 million. “

Cyprus in crucial vote as nation nears bankruptcy – Telegraph

“they elect a president who will have to take responsibility for negotiating a financial rescue for the debt-laden island nation.

Mr Anastasiades has promised a quick agreement with the European Union and International Monetary Fund on a bailout, a deal investors want thrashed out before the island’s troubles derail progress made in shoring up the rest of the euro zone’s periphery.”

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