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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Feb 18, 2014: News Updates

Man leaps to death from JP Morgan’s headquarters in Central

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014, 4:49pm

A man on Tuesday jumped to his death from the top of Chater House in Central, where Wall Street bank JP Morgan has its Asia headquarters, witnesses told the South China Morning Post.....
...According to several JP Morgan employees, the man was a forex trader with the company.

Thousands of Thai protesters surround govt HQ in Bangkok

Bank Runs Spread To Thailand

feb 18 2014
Thailand's Government Savings Bank (GSB) president admitted that clients withdrew 30bn Baht (around $1bn) in a single-day last week and Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and Krungthai Bank (KTB), although of a much smaller magnitude, have also seen withdrawal spikes of similar magnitude according to The Bangkok Post. The 'bank run' comes after speculation that cash at the state-run banks are being used by the government (which is in turmoil) to fund farmers (who have not received their 'promised' rice subsidies of over 130 bn Baht). Withdrawal requests are met with banks warning that there were insufficient funds at the time due to many depositors withdrawing cash. One depositor, rather ironically summed it up, "I started to feel concerned that my money may become only paper."

Deposit flight hits state-run bank Panicked by rumours of rice scheme lending, GSB customers are pulling out their money in droves. Published: 18 Feb 2014 at 23.57

Customers are stampeding to yank their deposits out of banks perceived as having extended loans to fund the cash-strapped rice pledging scheme.

Fed Voting on Rules to Regulate Foreign Banks in the U.S.

Fed to Consider Risk Management Requirements for Large U.S., Foreign Banks
Feb. 18, 2014 3:03 p.m. ET
The Federal Reserve was set to vote Tuesday to impose new rules on the global banking system, bringing large foreign banks under U.S. supervision. 9:03 PM

USS Taylor being inspected after running aground off Turkey

Stars and Stripes 3 hrs ago
Published: February 18, 2014
The guided-missile frigate USS Taylor, one of two ships on deployment in the Black Sea, is being inspected for damage after running aground last week as it was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey, a spokesman for the U.S. 6th Fleet said Tuesday....
The incident, which occurred on Feb. 12, is under further investigation, Eklund said.

Protesters flood streets as Venezuela opposition leader arrested

CARACAS Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:09pm EST
(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Venezuela's capital on Tuesday after troops arrested opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on charges of fomenting unrest against the government and violence that has killed at least four people.

Libyan militias call on parliament to hand over power in five hours

Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:49pm EST

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Two armed Libyan militia groups called on the country's parliament to hand over power in five hours on Tuesday, according to a statement read out on television that added to tensions in the volatile OPEC producer.

Libya is facing turmoil as the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is struggling to control armed militias who helped overthrow the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and have retained their weapons to make financial and political demands.

At least nine die on worst day of Ukraine protest violence

KIEV Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:08pm EST
(Reuters) - Ukrainian protesters hurled petrol bombs, fireworks and stones at riot police on the edge of Kiev's Independence Square on Tuesday, and nine people died in the worst day of violence since demonstrations erupted against President Viktor Yanukovich.
Western powers warned Yanukovich against trying to smash the 12 week-old pro-European demonstrations and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, fearing an assault, urged women and children to leave the central square - also known as Maidan - "to avoid further victims".
A police spokeswoman said seven civilians and two policemen had died in Tuesday's clashes.

Uproar over Nigeria's missing oil millions (2:03)

Feb. 17 - Suspicions of massive fraud at the heart of one of the world's most opaque state oil companies has put pressure on Nigeria's President a year ahead of elections. As Sonia Legg reports he was already facing criticism for failing to quell a northern Islamist insurgency.

U.S. opens border checkpoint in UAE

Overseas base, part of a push to combat terror threats, will also fast-track travellers through entry process.
 Tue Feb 18 2014
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — A U.S. border checkpoint located a day’s flight from New York in the Arabian desert promises to become an oasis for weary travellers heading for the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened an Abu Dhabi base on Jan. 24, the first in the Middle East and the second outside the Americas after Ireland.

Canada scraps millionaire visa scheme, ‘dumps 46,000 Chinese applications’

Tens of thousands of Chinese millionaires in the queue will have their applications scrapped and their application fees returned
Tens of thousands of Chinese millionaires face an uncertain future after Canada's government moved to scrap its controversial investor visa scheme, which has allowed waves of rich Hongkongers and mainland Chinese to immigrate since 1986.
The surprise announcement was made in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget, delivered to parliament in Ottawa on Tuesday. An estimated 45,500 mainland Chinese in the queue for visas in Hong Kong will have their applications "eliminated" and their fees returned

UBS helped set up offshore firm for wife, daughter of corrupt railways official, database shows

Feb 17 2014

Swiss bank helped set up secretive offshore company for wife and daughter of convicted railways ministry official, says US group
Swiss bank UBS is at the centre of embarrassing revelations that it helped to set up a secretive offshore firm for the wife and daughter of a former senior Chinese official who has since been convicted of corruption.

Bank Of America Warns "The US Dollar Is In Trouble"

Feb 17 2014
Global financial and commodity markets are warning that the US Dollar is in for a bout of trouble, warns BofAML's Macneil Curry. Across asset classes, Curry points out that Gold was the first to make its low against the US Dollar, doing so back on Dec-15. The second market to turn against the US Dollar was US Treasuries, with Ten year note futures turning bullish back on Dec-26. Currently, the FX market - most specifically GBP - is breaking out and pressuring the US Dollar. Finally, the Japanese stock market continues to suffer, putting downward pressure on USDJPY and thus US Dollar weakness.

Obama's TPP negotiators received huge bonuses from big banks

Published time: February 18, 2014 17:12
A controversial trade deal being touted by the White House is expected to give American corporations broad new authority if approved. Now according to newly released documents, big banks gave millions to the execs that are now orchestrating the agreement.
Investigative journalist Lee Fang wrote for Republic Report on Tuesday this week that two former well-placed individuals within the ranks of Bank of America and CitiGroup were awarded millions of dollars in bonuses before jumping ship to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership on behalf of the White House.

Spain’s biggest lender Santander fined €16.9 mn for mis-selling

Published time: February 18, 2014 13:57
Spanish banking has suffered another blow, after its biggest lender Banco Santander was fined €16.9 million for not revealing to some bond buyers “necessary information” ahead of the financial crisis.
The bank, also the Euro zone's biggest by market value, had committed a “very grave infraction” while selling its so-called Valores bonds, said the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV), the country’s stock market regulator.

China Sold Second-Largest Amount Ever Of US Treasurys In December: And Guess Who Comes To The Rescue

Feb 18 2014
While we will have more to say about the disastrous December TIC data shortly, which was released early today, and which showed a dramatic plunge in foreign purchases of US securities in December - the month when the S&P soared to all time highs and when everyone was panicking about the 3% barrier in the 10 Year being breached and resulting in a selloff in Tsy paper - one thing stands out. The chart below shows holdings of Chinese Treasurys (pending revision of course, as the Treasury department is quite fond of ajdusting this data series with annual regularity): in a nutshell, Chinese Treasury holdings plunged by the most in two years, after China offloaded some $48 billion in paper, bringing its total to only $1268.9 billion, down from $1316.7 billion, and back to a level last seen in March 2013!

Beijing giving foreign economists the cold shoulder

Foreign economists given the cold shoulder as government officials become more sceptical of research reports analysing scale of problem
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 February, 2014,
Chinese government officials have quietly become more sceptical about foreign banks' research reports and are avoiding senior economists at global banks, partly because of growing mutual distrust over the scale and seriousness of the country's debt problems.
Economic researchers and people working for state-owned media told the South China Morning Post that the central government's propaganda department had instructed senior editors at major official media outlets to be cautious about whom they invite to talk about China's economy and what they might say about the problems and challenges it faces after its long run of supercharged growth.

Student Loans Hit Record $1.08 Trillion; Delinquent Student Debt Rises To All Time High

Feb 18,2014
While the bulk of the quantity data contained in the Fed's quarterly Household Debt and Credit Report is known in advance courtesy of the Fed's monthly tracking of household revolving and non-revolving debt, the quality components always provide a welcome insight into the state of the US household. It is there that we find that the most disturbing trend in recent years: the encumbering of students with record amounts of loans continues. In fact, as of December 31, the total amount of non-dischargeable (for now) student loans hit a new all time high of $1.08 trillion an increase of $53 billion in the quarter. By comparison, total credit card debt as of the same period was "only" $683 billion. At this rate, total student loans will be double the size of all credit card debt within 2-3 years.

Scots to lose UK pension after autonomy: Gordon Brown

Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:33PM GMT
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned the Scottish people that a vote for independence from the United Kingdom would mean losing their state pensions.
“You are expecting, quite rightly, that you will get a British pension – but if there is independence, the British pension stops, the national insurance fund that you're paying into is broken up,” Brown said during a speech in Fife.

Wall Street slightly higher as Tesla lifts Nasdaq

By Angela Moon
NEW YORK Tue Feb 18, 2014
(Reuters) - Stocks were slightly higher on Tuesday after Wall Street's biggest gain of the year, boosted by Tesla shares which hit an all-time high, giving a lift to the tech-heavy Nasdaq index.

Economic reports were disappointing. U.S. homebuilder confidence suffered its largest one-month drop ever in February, and the New York Federal Reserve's gauge of manufacturing showing weaker-than-expected reading, but investors quickly shifted focus to more market-positive news in mergers and acquisitions.

Tesla catches fire in Toronto garage

Tesla officials investigating incident that occurred after owner returned from a drive
Published February 18, 2014
Another Tesla Model S has caught fire, this one in Toronto.
Unlike several previous situations where the EV ignited after striking an object while driving, this Model S caught on fire while sitting in its owner’s garage. It was unplugged from its charging unit.


Posted on February 18, 2014   
Olympia, Wa., February 17, 2014– State legislators in the Washington House of Representatives just voted unanimously (97:0) to approve HB1888, which effectively nullifies the federal ban on hemp within the state of Washington.

Hong Kong socialite Sandra d'Auriol plunges to her death at plastic surgery clinic

Sandra d'Auriol was listed among Hong Kong Tatler's list of top 500 people in the city
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014

A Hong Kong socialite and jewellery designer has plunged to her death from the top floor of a prestigious Californian medical clinic where she had just received treatment.
D'Auriol was born in India to British parents and was married to Frenchman Yan d'Auriol, a former L'Oreal executive and a founding partner of Hong Kong private equity firm Leitmotiv.
She was a director of the Child Welfare Scheme and was trained by Asprey, jewellers to the British Royal family.