Saturday, 22 July 2017

Weekend Update 22/07/17 The Ever More Dodgy EUSSR.

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

Samuel Johnson

This weekend, compare and contrast the dishonest, wealth and jobs destroying, EUSSR inmate asylum run for the benefit of the Eurocrats, with 2017 summery [mostly honest] London.

But first this. For the first time since the election of President Trump, partisan politics in Washington is starting to act as a drag on the stock market.

Stocks Fall, Dollar Sinks as Politics Take a Toll: Markets Wrap

By Eric J Weiner
U.S. stocks sank Friday and the euro climbed to its highest level against the dollar since January 2015 as investors assessed an investigation into U.S. President Donald Trump that may stall his economic agenda. European shares fell as the common currency’s rally weighed on carmakers and other exporters. Oil slumped after reports that OPEC supply increased this month.

All major U.S. equity gauges ended lower, with energy shares leading decliners in the S&P 500 Index. Industrials also struggled as General Electric Co. dropped 3 percent on the company’s warning that its earnings for the year will likely be at near the bottom of its projected range. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index hit a 14-month low.

Politics remained at the forefront in the U.S., with reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation to include Trump’s business dealings and the president telling the New York Times that any digging into his finances would cross a red line. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday as Trump named financier Anthony Scaramucci communications director.

The euro gathered momentum following Thursday’s comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that policy makers in the fall will discuss unwinding quantitative easing. Rising hawkishness from the ECB has helped the euro rally from lows last seen near the start of the millennium, with investors expecting tapering to start in the new year and pricing in a 10 basis point rate hike by September 2018.

Now back to the dodgy, almost criminal enterprise aka the EUSSR.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed former Luxembourg P.M., serial liar, president of the European Commission. Scotch connoisseur.

July 21, 2017 / 1:20 PM / 8 minutes ago

German carmakers may have colluded on diesel systems -Spiegel

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's carmakers VW (VOWG_p.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE), Audi, Porsche may have colluded to fix the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems using industry committees, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

Germany's cartel authority declined to comment on the report, which sent car stocks tumbling.
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) shares were down 3.9 percent, 2.7 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, underperforming Germany's blue-chip DAX .GDAXI index which was down 1.9 percent by 1401 GMT.

The Stoxx 600 autos index .SXAP was down 3.1 percent.

"This new chapter in the diesel saga needs to be taken seriously," Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note. "Our conclusion is that there might be a risk of several hundred millions or even low billions."

Around 200 employees sitting in 60 industry committees discussed vehicle development, brakes, petrol and diesel engines, clutches and transmissions as well as exhaust treatment systems, Der Spiegel reported, citing a letter sent to cartel authorities.

Volkswagen admitted to possible anti-competitive behaviour in a letter it sent to cartel authorities on July 4, Der Spiegel said.

A spokesman for Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), which owns the Porsche and Audi brands, declined to comment.

The carmakers discussed their choice of suppliers and the price of components. Since 2006, the carmakers have also discussed the cost of AdBlue, an exhaust emissions treatment system for diesel engines, Spiegel said.

July 21, 2017 / 10:58 AM

German politicians, industry agree diesel plan - sources

BERLIN (Reuters) - Car industry officials and politicians in Germany have agreed to update the engine software of around 9 million diesel cars as part of a plan to avoid bans on diesel vehicles in major cities, industry and government sources said on Friday.

After Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) admitted to emissions-test cheating in 2015, the entire auto industry has come under scrutiny for producing nitrogen oxide emissions in diesel cars, which are blamed for causing respiratory disease.

Carmakers are under pressure from international regulators and local politicians in Germany to clean up their diesel emissions or face bans on diesel engine vehicles.

The software updates will cost under 2 billion euros (1.71 billion pounds) for cars in Germany, with the auto industry agreeing to shoulder the expense of about 100 euros per car, the sources said.

Diesel-engine cars from all domestic and foreign car brands equipped with engines designed to meet Euro-6 and Euro-5 emissions standards, will be updated, the sources said. The plan is set to be presented at the beginning of August.

With the software updates, the auto industry is able to cut nitrogen oxide pollution by about 20 percent, the sources said. The updated software would mean the exhaust filtering systems work more effectively, helping to remove more of the harmful emissions.

A committee will be set up to measure the impact of updating diesel cars on individual communities and cities, with a view to averting bans of diesel cars, the sources said.

Counterfeit Euros May Trigger Headache for Cash-Loving Germans

By Piotr Skolimowski and Carolynn Look
21 July 2017, 12:05 GMT+1
This news might not sit well with cash-loving Germans.

The number of counterfeit euro banknotes in Europe’s largest economy rose by 8.7 percent in the first six months of this year, even as they declined in the euro region as a whole. According to a Bundesbank report published Friday, this means about one note per 1,000 inhabitants in Germany is a fake.

Fifty-euro notes are by far the most popular with forgers, accounting for 47.6 percent of all counterfeits seized in the euro area, according to a separate publication by the European Central Bank, which said a total of 331,000 bills were removed from circulation so far this year. In Germany, the share of fake fifties is even higher at 63 percent -- a fact which could prove troublesome given the country’s extraordinary love of cash.

While a rise in counterfeit bills would probably barely register in countries like Sweden or Denmark, where societies are gradually going cashless, more than 80 percent of the Germany’s transactions are conducted using coins or notes, far above most of its peers.

To the institution in charge of printing and removing banknotes in Germany, the launch of a new bill with improved security features in April this year marks a sign of hope

“I’m expecting the number of the 50-euro counterfeits to go down in the second half of the year,” Bundesbank Board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said, adding that the number of forged 20-euro bills dropped sharply after that banknote got a security upgrade in November 2015.

July 20, 2017 / 11:48 AM / a day ago

Italian tax police ask Switzerland for details on 10,000 banking clients

MILAN/ZURICH (Reuters) - Italy's tax police have asked the Swiss authorities for information regarding Italians that deposited a total of 6.7 billion euros (6.1 billion pounds) in the country.

The police said in a statement the move, which concerned Italian citizens holding 9,953 financial positions in Switzerland, followed an investigation that last year led to a tax settlement deal between Italy and Credit Suisse AG (CSGN.S).

The police declined to say whether the people Italy was seeking information on were Credit Suisse's customers and did not provide further details.

The statement said that 3,297 people had already been identified through a national voluntary disclosure tax amnesty scheme, used by the Italian government to encourage tax dodgers to declare funds held abroad in return for immunity from prosecution.

In December an Italian judge approved a settlement between Credit Suisse and the country's authorities under which the Swiss bank agreed to pay 109.5 million euros.

The tax investigation, started in 2015, was over an alleged fraudulent system used by the bank to transfer money offshore, mainly through the use of insurance policies. The bank's local unit Credit Suisse Italy SpA was not involved in that case.

"Credit Suisse considers the investigation by the Italian authorities into Credit Suisse's cross-border business as closed," the bank told Reuters in an emailed statement.

----Switzerland's Federal Tax Administration declined to comment, pointing to a confidentiality clause that applies to mutual requests for assistance on tax matters.

Insider-Trading Probes May Be Curtailed by French Privacy Ruling

By Gaspard Sebag
21 July 2017, 12:46 GMT+1
French markets regulators’ powers to investigate insider trading may be curtailed by a court ruling that creates privacy protections for investors and traders.

The ruling from France’s Constitutional Court on Friday will limit the Autorite des Marches Financiers’ access to phone records during civil market-abuse probes. The judges criticized lawmakers for failing to recognize the privacy rights of suspects when enacting the legislation overseeing the issue several years ago.

Phone records are a key piece of evidence used in insider-trading probes around the globe. Prosecutors use the data to prove the crucial element of when people suspected of sharing non-public information talked to one another. In the U.K.’s biggest probe last year, investigators used records from cellular phone towers to prove the defendants had met.

Claude Nicole Ohl, a lawyer for the AMF, told the court at a hearing earlier this month that any immediate order against the regulator would jeopardize more than 40 cases where the suspects may have pocketed 80 million euros ($93 million) through insider trading. The court delayed implementation of the ruling until 2019 to prevent “excessive consequences” for the AMF, which enforces market offenses with administrative fines and bans.

The AMF didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment following the ruling.

During the hearing, a Geneva financier’s lawyer revealed that his client, Lucien Selce, faces criminal insider-trading charges as he intervened as an interested third party to lend his support to two men’s case against the AMF.

In a country where insider trading is typically a civil offense, it was the second criminal case revealed in unrelated court proceedings within the last few weeks after charges against a former Societe Generale SA managing director were disclosed at a June employment tribunal hearing.

Finally, summery, touristy, London. Watch out though, for the Romanian beggars and pickpockets.

"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

Samuel Johnson

101 things to do in London for $20 or less

Published: July 21, 2017 7:57 a.m. ET

Who says having fun as a tourist in London has to be expensive?

If you think you have to spend a fortune to vacation in Europe, think again.

The post-Brexit pound is so weak against the dollar that even pricey London can be surprisingly cheap for those visiting from the U.S.

And that’s especially true if you avoid the usual tourist money pits, and use some savvy and some inside, local knowledge.

This list isn’t comprehensive and isn’t intended to be. I lived in London for many years. On a recent visit, I set out to find things you could do, see, buy, eat, or drink for $20 or less (using an exchange rate of $1.30 to the pound) and which at least some of you might think were fun. That’s on top of the country’s best museums, such as the British Museum, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery — all free — and such tourist favorites like the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which is also free.

If these ideas spark you to yet more creative ones, so much the better. (Please share your suggestions in the comments section.)

So grab your Oyster card (the smarter, cheaper way to pay for buses, subways and more) and start exploring.

·  Climb the 202-foot Monument tower in the City of London, raised to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire — $6.50
·  Lunch on a wild boar hot dog or a venison hamburger, followed by a gooey, fist-sized, handmade meringue, found at Borough Market — $13.
·  Or sample a bottle of authentic English “Mead” (honey wine), also at Borough Market — $14
·  Tour the Royal Mews behind Buckingham Palace and take a look at the Queen’s carriages — $13.
·  Have a “Full English” breakfast at Simpson’s Tavern (founded in 1757). That’s sausage, bacon, black pudding,eggs, mushrooms, baked beans, tomato, eggs, toast and coffee or tea — $14.
·  Visit the Tower Bridge museum and cross the River Thames using the glass-floored upper walkway — $13.
·  Take a guided tour of the Camden Town brewery, home of Camden Hells beer —$20.
·  Pick up the latest copy of the satirical newspaper Private Eye and get the inside scoop on the British establishment — $2.50.
·  Try to get your head around a game of cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground — from $8 for less marquee events.
·  Experience Shakespeare as the Bard intended with a groundling ticket (standing room) to the Globe Theatre — $6.50.

To which I can add another, spectacular, if more controversial attraction. Visit north Kensington to stare at the burnt out remains of Grenfell Tower, the Great Fire of London 2017 – free. Why you should never stay on a high floor of a burning 1970s London Tower block, with only one narrow, two person emergency staircase, one handrail, no fire alarms or sprinkler system, clad in flammable material as a Labour Party bribe to get “green votes,” no matter what the London Fire Brigade say.

“If the BBC champagne socialist troughers, could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

With apologies to John Maynard Keynes.

After taking a break for his exams and some interesting travel, our LIR commentator from smoky Lake Tahoe returns with commentary on politics in the USA. Lake Tahoe was affected by some of the many forest fires during the week. Welcome back Jason.

Politicized Reactions to U.S. Senator John McCain’s Cancer Diagnosis a Shameful Reflection of the Sorry State of the Current American Political Climate

N. Jason Jencka         July 21st, 2017    3:00 am ET

Wednesday of this week it was reported that former prisoner of war and 30 year veteran of the U.S, Senate Jr John McCain of Arizona is facing an aggressive form of brain cancer that was discovered upon analysis of what was thought to be a blood-clot above the eyebrow. While various well-wishes  and expressions of genuine concern immediately emerged on social media platforms from D.C. notables there has been a crass undercurrent in the public response that is both sad and telling. The relevant facts of the matter are that a respected senator and unquestioned patriot of the highest order is facing a grim battle and must be spared the indignity of uninformed pronouncements regarding the Congressional health care plan as it compares to the individual marketplace within the healthcare debate. Our collective compassion must exceed the drive to be right and victorious in legislative battles and policy debates; John McCain and the many others whose personal situations become political footballs deserve a level of respect that is sorely lacking in  the public American political conscience at present.

N. Jason Jencka is presently studying Finance and Economics at Sierra Nevada College, located near the shores of Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada. His interests include the interplay between world markets and the global political sphere, with a focus on developments of both sides of the Atlantic in North America and Europe. In his leisure time he enjoys connecting with those people that have an interesting story to tell and a genuine desire to make an impact in the world.

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