News links for 15 Mar 2013
“FT Alphaville is currently experiencing a sensation of rubbernecking around the recently nationalised Dutch financial group SNS Reaal.
With two separate wrecks on either side of the motorway to gape at, it’s hard to look away. “
“Washington dealt a double blow Thursday to JPMorgan Chase as a Senate report accused its iconic chief executive of hiding information about a massive loss from regulators while the Federal Reserve unexpectedly said it had found a “weakness” in the bank’s capital plans.
The twin announcements, both unveiled in the late afternoon, escalates the problems for JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank and arguably its most prestigious. Once viewed as the strongest bank to emerge from the 2008 financial crisis, the firm on Thursday watched its weaker rivals, Bank of America and Citigroup, sail through the Fed’s examination.”
““The recent labor market data signal at least steady, and potentially improving, job growth so far in 2013 despite the implementation of various forms of fiscal tightening,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan Chase.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 332,000 last week, the Labor Department said.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected first-time applications to rise to 350,000.
The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of trends in the labor market, fell to a five-year low.”
“The slowdown in India’s economic growth is less supportive for the country’s sovereign credit ratings, and the government may find it challenging to meet the revenue projections in its 2013/14 budget, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s said on Friday.”
“the more data-dense the average syllable was, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech. English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.”
“The Internet’s biggest organizations collectively rose up in outrage over a potential act of government censorship, yet have been conspicuously silent as Congress mulls sweeping new government surveillance authority. In 2012, most major websites staged a massive global blackout in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would have granted authority to shut down websites associated with piracy. Yet as congress considers broad new sensitive data-sharing rules under the eerily named, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), there is not even a hint of outrage. The deafening silence reveals a culture within Silicon Valley that cares far more about information than civil liberties.”
“We are currently in the longest depression – with the economy failing to recover to its previous peak level of output – since before the 1920s. Is this really as good as it gets? Or could there be a yet-to-be-tried miracle cure for our economic malaise?”
“The new Pope is alleged to have reported two priests of the Society of Jesus to the military regime” in Argentina when Argentina was a miltiary dictatorship
Angela Merkel wants to avoid making any more unpopular decisions until the German elections. This is a risky strategy. The European crisis could escalate on four different fronts.
“The Justice Department has unsealed a stunning indictment that accuses an editor at international newswire service Reuters of collaborating with the hackers’ collective Anonymous.”
“Europe is being torn apart by a titanic clash between (a) the unstoppable popular rage against misanthropic austerity policies and (b) our elites’ immovable commitment to more austerity. Precisely how this clash will play out no one knows, except of course that the odds do not seem to be on the side of the good. While at the mercies of this crushing uncertainty, it is perhaps useful to take a… short quiz. So, dear reader, will you please read the following ten quotations and, while so doing, try to imagine who uttered or wrote these words?”
“As if it could be any other way, the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S 4 is Samsung’s, and perhaps even Android’s, best phone yet. In fact, it very well may be the best smartphone on the market, period.
We’ve been through months of speculation, hype, rumors, and leaks, but the truth is out, and the Galaxy S 4 still has much more up its sleeve than the leaks suggested. More than any other Galaxy before it, the Galaxy S 4 is proof that the company can build a central brand the way Apple has with the iPhone. Both the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S series have been selling in the millions, and the Galaxy S 4 looks like it will hold up that trend.”
House prices suffered their biggest fall in 2012 with prices down 13.7% in the year. Existing home prices fell even more at a 14.8% clip in 2012.
“It is still early to draw definitive conclusions about labor reform, but, for now, the signs clearly point to an increase in layoffs above and apart from layoffs induced by the fall in economic activity and to worsening working conditions for those who keep their jobs, who are now forced to work harder for less. Both effects have boosted productivity growth from employment throughout 2012 at the highest rate since the crisis began.
The aim was that these productivity gains would improve the market share of domestic and foreign sales through competitive pricing and investment gains to offset the fall in consumer demand caused by the terminations of contracts and wage cuts.
Unfortunately, it seems that this effect is not having this rebalancing effect because many companies are using the improvements to cut high debt”
“Earlier this week, the Data Center of China Internet (DCCI) released a report (h/t Tech In Asia) that showed nearly 35 percent of the Android apps it surveyed were secretly stealing user data unrelated to the app’s functionality. The DCCI, a research institute, looked at 1,400 apps downloaded from different app markets and found that 66.9 percent were tracking users’ private data, with 34.5 percent collecting information that had no connection to the app’s usage.”
Spanish government debt is now 84% of GDP and stands at 884.4 billion euros.
“”Smartphones and tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system aren’t selling very well. There is a preference in the market for Android. In Europe, we’re also seeing lackluster demand for Windows-based products.””
“France and Italy won support for a slightly more growth-friendly interpretation of European Union budget rules at a summit on Thursday after French President Francois Hollande challenged German-driven fiscal austerity.”
“Japan’s government raised its assessment of the economy in March for the third consecutive month, saying factory output is showing signs of a pickup and that capital expenditure is bottoming out as the economy shakes off a mild recession last year.
The government raised its assessment of corporate profits and the labour market at a time a weak yen is boosting exporters’ earnings and there is an increase in the number of available jobs.
The government reiterated that it expects the Bank of Japan to take bold steps to meet a 2 per cent inflation target as part of a push to escape nagging deflation and to revive the economy.”
“Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.”
“China’s leaders have named Li Keqiang as premier, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.
Mr Li, who already holds the number two spot in the Communist Party, takes over from Wen Jiabao.
Mr Li was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.”
“Matthew Keys, a deputy social media editor at Thomson Reuters, has been charged in a federal indictment for allegedly conspiring with members of the hacker group “Anonymous” to hack into the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department announced today.
Keys, a former web producer for the Tribune Co-owned television station KTXL FOX 40, in Sacramento, Calif., was charged with providing members of the group with log-in credentials for a computer server belonging to the Tribune Co., the L.A. Times parent company, according to the DoJ’s press release.”
“JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) engaged in high-risk proprietary trading under the guise of ordinary hedging, said Senate investigators, who urged U.S. regulators to strengthen the proposed ban on such trades known as the Volcker rule.
Regulators should require banks that hold federally insured deposits to explicitly link positions in derivatives to the underlying risk they are hedging, the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recommended in a 300-page report released yesterday.”
“If your phone’s battery is draining a little faster than you’d like, BetterBatteryStats will tell you absolutely everything you need to know about what’s killing it.
We’ve shared lots of ways to get better battery life on your phone, and Android’s built-in settings can tell you a lot about which apps are using the battery. BetterBatteryStats, however, is a bit more detailed.”
“The European Court of Justice has ruled that property repossession legislation in Spain violates European consumer protection laws.
Xiomara, who left the Dominican Republic to live in Spain, is one of thousands of people evicted for not being able to pay her mortgage.
With debts of almost 133,000 euros ($172,000; £115,000) with a Spanish bank, she struggles to get by on her unemployment benefits.”
“The RSS model is dying because it didn’t work well with advertising”
“The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.”
“Economists had taken courage from two consecutive quarter-on-quarter declines of 0.1pc between April and September, which seemed to indicate the sluggish jobs market could be nearing a turnaround.
However Thursday’s figures, combined with Eurostat’s most recent unemployment statistics indicating the bloc’s jobless had hit an all-time high of 11.9pc in January, paint a glummer picture.
“Latest Eurozone unemployment data are both disappointing and worrying,” said Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Global Insight, warning that eurozone unemployment could reach as high as 12.5pc by late 2013 or early 2014.”
“The Spanish law that has allowed banks to evict tens of thousands of mortgage holders during the recent housing crisis is not compatible with European Union law, the bloc’s highest court has ruled.
The decision, published on Thursday, deals a fresh blow to Spain’s draconian mortgage regime – and will add to rising public pressure on the government in Madrid to change the system.”
“Welcome to all the new Google Reader users migrating to feedly. Here are some tips on how to adapt to the feedly desktop interface.”
This is always worth watching with replacement subtitles.
“When I learned Wednesday night that Google Reader is shutting down, I literally broke into a sweat. Like many journalists, I’ve come to rely on the 242 RSS subscriptions I manage through Google Reader. It’s the first thing I check every morning — second only to making a cup of coffee — and, along with Twitter and email, one of the top three resources I use to do my job. And honestly, if I had to get rid of one of those, it would be the email.”