"'The time has come,' [President Nicolas Sarkozy] said in a speech to France's Strategic Research Foundation, adding, 'Our strategy cannot remain stuck in the past when the conditions of our security have changed radically.'"I never thought I'd see it happen.
2. Platts reports that Prime Minister Putin said today that Russia will not fine Naftogaz for not taking the contracted for volumes of natural gas from Gazprom. Quote:
"[We] forgive these fines because we understand the reality--they have nothing to pay with. They are on the verge of bankruptcy, and you understand perfectly well that you can't kill your partner, because it will then not be capable of anything."3. Eurointelligence reports that the US is calling for the tripling of funds available to the IMF in preparation for the G20 meeting in London this weekend. "Geithner also said that each G20 country should set a target of spending 2% of GDP for 2009 and 2010 in fiscal stimulus, and that the IMF should monitor progress towards that goal." David Cho and Anthony Faiola at the Washington Post reports that the Administration will ask Congress for nearly double the US commitment to the IMF to $100 billion.
4. Edward Wong at the New York Times reports that China has officially protested the passage of non-binding resolution H. Res. 226 passed by Congress yesterday. In a news conference today, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, said that the resolution "makes groundless accusations against China’s religious policies" and "rudely intervenes in China’s internal affairs." HR226 was introduced on Monday and passed on Wednesday with a roll call vote of 422-1. Key language:
"Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the Tibetan people for their perseverance in face of hardship and adversity in Tibet and for creating a vibrant and democratic community in exile that sustains the Tibetan identity;
(2) recognizes the Government and people of India for their generosity toward the Tibetan refugee population for the last 50 years;
(3) calls upon the Government of the People's Republic of China to respond to the Dalai Lama's initiatives to find a lasting solution to the Tibetan issue, cease its repression of the Tibetan people, and to lift immediately the harsh policies imposed on Tibetans, including patriotic education campaigns, detention and abuses of those freely expressing political views or relaying news about local conditions, and limitations on travel and communications; and
(4) calls upon the Administration to recommit to a sustained effort consistent with the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, that employs diplomatic, programmatic, and multilateral resources to press the People's Republic of China to respect the Tibetans' identity and the human rights of the Tibetan people."
5. Tracy Withers at Bloomberg reports that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut its benchmark rate by 0.5% to 3%.
6. Seyoon Kim at Bloomberg reports that the Bank of South Korea today decided to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2%.
"South Korea’s government said today it will provide cash, loans, school fees and other financial incentives valued at 6 trillion won to help those on lower incomes cope with rising unemployment. The aid package will use funds from the extra budget being proposed this month, the finance ministry said.7. Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a pretty good overview of the situation in Pakistan as the government there rounds up lawyers involved in this year's long march under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Cole concludes that the situation is rapidly becoming an open invitation to the military to take over again.
Bank of Korea Governor Lee said he expects the government to propose 'a significant' extra spending package, financed through bond sales. The central bank will watch the effect of debt sales on financial markets as it decides whether to purchase bonds, he added.
'The Korean economy is likely to remain in recession due to the persistent weakness of both domestic and overseas demand.'"
8. Andre Soliani and Joshua Goodman at Bloomberg report that the policy makers at the Brazilian central bank unanimously voted to cut the benchmark interest rate by 1.5% to 11.25% last night.
"The central bank, in a statement accompanying its decision, said it would evaluate the 'magnitude and speed' of 2.5 percentage points in cuts since January and their cumulative effect before deciding on its next steps."9. Daniel Cancel at Bloomberg reports that Barclay's analyst Alejandro Grisanti said in a speech today in Caracas that Venezuelan GDP was likely to contract by 4.1% in 2009.
10. Vanessa Ronsisvalle and Beth Evans at Platts reports that the EU imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of US biodiesel today.
"The anti-subsidy duty, designed to offset financial incentive offered to US producers by the US government has been set at rates varying from €211.2/mt-€237/mt [$270-$303/mt or ~$36.00-$40.40/b], according to the Commission's decision published in the official journal of the European Union.
The anti-dumping duty has been set at rates varying from €23.6/mt to €208.2/mt [$30.02-$264.81/mt or ~$4.00-$35.31/b]. The anti-subsidy duties specified by the commission vary less, ranging from a low of €211.2/mt to a high of €237/mt [$268.63-$301.44/mt or ~$35.82-$40.19/b].
Details of the EC's decision showed some companies were given individual anti-dumping duties, ranging from as little as €23.60/mt (~$4/b) for Archer Daniels Midland and €60.50/mt (~$10.26/b) for Cargill to a high of €208.20/mt (~$35.31/b) for Peter Cremer North America.
All other companies listed in the commission's statement, including ED&F Man, Louis Dreyfus, Trafigura, Vinmar and Vitol, face an anti-dumping duty of €122.90/mt (~$20.84/b), while imports from companies not named in the document are subject to a €182.40/mt (~$30.93/b) duty."
11. Shobhana Chandra at Bloomberg reports that the Commerce Department today announced that retail sales fell by 0.1% in February from January. The decline was much less than had been expected by most analysts and if you exclude automobile sales from the numbers retail sales climbed by 0.7%.