Aries Poon at the Wall Street Journal reports that HSBC Holdings PLC issued renminbi-denominated bonds on Thursday.
"SBC's 1 billion-yuan ($146.4 million) bond, aimed at institutional investors, was sold Thursday at 0.38 percentage point above the three-month Shanghai interbank offered rate, a person familiar with the deal said Thursday. That was toward the top end of the indicative range of 0.30 percentage point to 0.40 percentage point above Shibor, which now stands at 1.2925%.Bloomberg reports that the People's Bank of China reiterated its call for a new international currency:
Bank of East Asia plans to launch two-year yuan bonds with a coupon between 2% and 2.8%, with a retail tranche of more than 1 billion yuan, another person familiar with the situation said earlier."
"To avoid the inherent deficiencies of using sovereign currencies for reserves, there’s a need to create an international reserve currency that’s de-linked from sovereign nations."Yves Smith at naked capitalism comments:
"The practical impediments to an SDR regime is the lack of deep trading markets for investments, But the transition from sterling as reserve currency to the dollar was a protracted, messy, and disorganized affair. The Chinese prefer order and particularly want a fixed rate (or at least narrow float as they have now) regime. They see floating rates as destabilizing and as bad for trade. They increase uncertainty which deters investment.2. SOME GERMAN ANXIETY RE: DIMINISHING INFLUENCE WITH THE US--AND WORLD
Again, this may simply be more insistent posturing. The Chinese tend to be frontal. But if nothing else, the Chinese are signaling that they are not happy with the status quo and expect change. The US simply has not been with that program. And we don't seem to have other ready ways to placate the Chinese. We've nixed deals we considered politically sensitive, to their outrage, and will continue to guard our advanced military technology. It isn't clear what China wants in the way of gives and gets here. Again, this may be playing to a domestic audience, but negotiators can get locked into what was initially mere playing to the gallery.
This salvo coming now is also going to be perceived to constrain US fiscal deficits if we need a second stimulus package (likely). I tend to buy the analysis that the spending shortfall is large enough that this isn't the inflationary monster that it is perceived to be. However, the fly in the ointment is first, that we have already thrown so much firepower into the sinkhole of the financial system with perilous little effect (restructuring debt, shorting up certain borrowers directly, reining in the banks, and smaller capital infusions would have been a much better course of action). In particular, the Fed efforts to create a zillion facilities to shore up TBTF markets that have become important channels for credit extension muddies the picture considerably."
Gregor Peter Schmitz at Der Spiegel worries that very few representatives of the US government were at a reception for Chancellor Merkel held at the Library of Congress on Thursday.
"[T]here was just a single member of the House of Representatives (out of a possible 435) who bothered to show up to see the German chancellor. Interest for countries like Germany is no longer seen as a way to advance one's career in the US Congress. Those who take an interest in foreign policy have begun looking to Asia first. The only other politician of note at Merkel's reception [outside of former Sen. Chuck Hagel] was Alan Greenspan. But the 83-year-old is also now in retirement."The Chancellor will be meeting with President Obama today, on the other hand, but the article does seem to express a genuine worry in Europe that it is being relegated to the margin in determining the international order. I suppose it is a legitimate concern, though Europe's role in the world is hardly marginal. (On the other hand, Germans no longer represent the largest ethnic group in the United States, as they did at the time of WWII.)
3. JOSCHKA FISCHER TO ADVISE NABUCCO
Der Spiegel reports that former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has taken a job as a consultant to the Nabucco gas pipeline project.
"Fischer has joined the €7.9 billion ($11.1 billion) project as a political adviser, primarily to ensure that Turkey remains on board--but also to manage relations with other countries affected by the pipeline, including transit countries Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary."
"Ironically, Fischer's new position puts him across the fence from [ex-Chancellor Gerhard] Schröder, his former political partner from 1998-2005, when a coalition government of Schröder Social Democrats and Fischer's Greens called the shots in Berlin. Just weeks after losing his chancellor job to Angela Merkel in the 2005 elections, Schröder took a position as chairman of the board of a Gazprom consortium currently building a natural gas pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea from Russia to the northern German coast. Called Nord Stream, the 1,220 kilometer long pipeline is scheduled for completion in 2012 and is estimated to cost some €7.4 billion."4. IRAQI OIL MINISTER FACES CRITICISM IN IRAQI PARLIAMENT
Samuel Ciszuk at IHS Global Insight reports that Iraqi oil minister Hussein al-Shahristani testified before the Iraqi Parliament on Tuesday and Thursday, meeting a barrage of criticism.
"[Chairman of the parliamentary Oil and Gas Committee, Ali Hussein Balou, led the assault on the oil minister’s policies, saying that the parliament would 'totally reject' the contracts unless it was allowed to ratify them, adding that 'we will not allow the Oil Ministry to move ahead, ignoring parliament and signing contracts in the first bidding round, since they are illegal and unconstitutional'. The outlook for the future was perhaps even more menacing, with Balou—from the Kurdish minority that is claiming full autonomy over its oil industry and reserves—promising that the fight would continue even if the licenses were awarded. 'If [Shahristani] dares to sign these contracts, he must assume responsibility for the consequences', Reuters quoted him as saying."The energy committee issued a summons for the oil minister to appear in May--see Daily Sources 5/18 #4--and parliamentarians have been openly calling for his resignation since--see Daily Sources 5/21 #6.
5. QATAR AGREES TO SUPPLY PAKISTAN WITH 1.5 MILLION TONS LNG/YEAR
Chris Stanton at the Nation reports that Pakistani and Qatari officials yesterday concluded a preliminary agreement to ship 1.5 million tons of LNG a year to Pakistan.
"Pakistan had originally sought 3.2 million tonnes, but Qatar could not provide that amount, [Asim] Hussain [a petroleum and natural resources adviser to the Pakistani government] said. Pakistan regularly suffers power cuts because it has inadequate supplies of gas to fuel power stations.The proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (or just Iran-Pakistan pipeline) remains bogged down--presumably the problem remains a question of the price Pakistan would pay for the gas.
The country faces a gas shortage of about 192 million cubic feet per day (cfd), according to estimates released earlier this year by the ministry of petroleum resources. That amount will grow to 507 million cfd next year and reach 3 billion cfd by 2015.
The volumes of LNG under discussion yesterday would work out to about 200 million cfd."
6. QATARI PM AND CHIEF OF EGYPTIAN INTELLIGENCE MEET IN RIYADH
Khaled Omar Abdel Halim at Almasry Alyoum reports that Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani told al-Jazeera that he had met with Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, in Riyadh for talks mediated by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
"Hamad denied any rift between Egypt and Qatar. He said the tension between the two countries was caused by some Egyptian officials, who follow the principle of 'either you are with me or you are against me.' He also accused some American officials of trying to exploit their failure by showing incomprehensible sensitivity towards Qatar and all its initiatives. And he expressed that he cannot identify the next steps to bring the two countries closer to each other."He also denied any link between the Hezbollah cell in Egypt and Qatar. (h/t Michael Collins Dunn at MEI's Editor's Blog.)
7. ISRAEL GRANTS PALESTINIAN SECURITY FORCES MORE FREEDOM TO OPERATE
Isabel Kershner at the New York Times reports that Israel has agreed to give Palestinian security forces more freedom to operate in the cities of Ramallah, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jericho.
"The Israeli military also recently removed several significant checkpoints inside the West Bank, in line with a policy of easing movement and improving daily life for the Palestinians so long as calm prevails."8. 4 NIGER DELTA MILITANT GROUPS AGREE IN PRINCIPLE TO ABUJA'S AMNESTY OFFER; MEND ATTACKS OFFSHORE WELL HOURS AFTER OFFER MADE
Austin Ekeinde at Reuters reports that four militant groups have indicated that they want to meet with representatives of the government to discuss the details of the recent amnesty offer made by Abuja.
"Representatives of Ateke Tom, Farah Dagogo, Soboma George and Boyloaf--key leaders of armed gangs behind some of the most spectacular attacks--said they wanted to meet [President Umaru Yar'Adua] to work out details of the deal.The four groups are from the states of Rivers and Bayelsa and all have ties to MEND, the umbrella militant organization. Meanwhile, Dulue Mbachu at Bloomberg reports that MEND said it had blown up an oil well in Shell’s Afremo offshore field hours after the amnesty offer made by President Yar'Adua. The attack was
'We accept peace as encapsulated in the said offer of amnesty,' they said in a joint statement.
'Depending on the outcome (of the meeting with Yar'Adua), the leaders will then announce when they will begin to hand over the arms and munitions in their possession to the federal government,' the statement said.
Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike, said the security forces would observe a cease-fire and respect all the terms of the amnesty. But he warned the army would respond if attacked."
"in response to 'a punitive' raid by the military on Agbeti community in Delta state, Jomo Gbomo, the spokesman for the group, also known as MEND, said in an e-mailed statement today."The FT has a cool interactive map of the Niger Delta and its key oil and gas infrastructure here:
9. BRAZIL'S CENTRAL BANK CUTS FORECAST FOR 2009 GDP TO 0.8%, UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS SLIGHTLY
Andre Soliani and Iuri Dantas at Bloomberg report that Brazil's central bank cut its forecast for GDP growth in 2009 to 0.8% from 1.2%.
"'Consumption, which accounts for the bulk of aggregate demand, is relatively resilient,' policy makers said in a quarterly report released today. 'Monetary policy, without hurting the commitment to the inflation target, and fiscal policy tend to help the recovery of economic activity.'"The national statistics agency announced yesterday that the unemployment rate in the six main metropolitan regions fell in May to 8.8% from 8.9%.
10. PDVSA TO ISSUE $3 BILLION IN DOLLAR DENOMINATED BONDS TO COVER DEBTS
Dulue Mbachu at Bloomberg reported yesterday that PdVSA will sell as much as $3 billion in dollar denominated zero-coupon bonds to cover its obligations, per a statement by central bank President Nelson Merentes.
"No investment bank from outside Venezuela is involved in the bond placement, Merentes said. Local investors will be able to buy the bonds at the official exchange rate of 2.15 bolivars per dollar ... .11. US PERSONAL INCOME UP 1.4% IN MAY FROM APRIL, PERSONAL SAVINGS AT HIGHEST RATE SINCE DEC 93
Buyers will only be able to trade the bonds in the local market, according to the company statement. The minimum purchase is $2,000 per investor."
Jeff Bater at the Wall Street Journal reports that personal income rose by a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.4% in May from April, per the Commerce Department.
"Disposable personal income in May--income after taxes--jumped 1.6%, driven by the aid package President Barack Obama signed in February to spur the economy. Disposable income rose 1.3% during April.The price index for personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy rose by 1.8% in May year over year. Core PCE climbed 0.1% in May from April.
Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 6.9% in May, the Commerce Department said. It was 5.6% in April and 4.3% in March.
The 6.9% rate was the largest since 7.6% in December 1993."
12. INTERACTIVE TIME LINES OF FINANCIAL CRISIS FROM THE NY FED
The NY Fed published a useful interactive time line of the financiaL crisis and the international response. It also published one for the US. (h/t James Hamilton at Econobrowser.)