Rebbeca Wilder at News N Economics notes that unemployment continues to grow quickly in the G7, which should damper consumption:
However, Helder Marinho and Andre Soliani at Bloomberg reported that Brazil's June jobless rate in six main metropolitan areas fell to 8.1% from 8.8% in May.
"Policy makers cut the so-called Selic rate by a half-point to a record 8.75 percent yesterday and said that level was adequate to spur growth and bring inflation back to target.
The drop in the jobless rate 'indicates how strong the domestic market is,' Pedro Tuesta, senior economist for Latin America with 4Cast Inc., said in a telephone interview. 'It reinforces the idea the bank should stop cutting rates.'"
"Annual inflation, as measured by Brazil’s IPCA index, slowed to 4.8% in June, down from 5.2% in May and the lowest since March 2008. Policy makers last month reaffirmed that they seek to slow inflation to 4.5% by year-end."Average wages, however, are not keeping pace with inflation.
2. ICELAND FORMALLY APPLIES FOR EU MEMBERSHIP
Karl Ritter at the Associated Press reports that Iceland formally applied for membership in the EU today.
"'To be frank with you, if we would get a rotten deal on the fisheries, the Icelandic people would get quite angry,' Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said after presenting the EU application to his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt. Sweden currently holds the EU presidency.3. UK RETAIL SALES UP 1.2% IN JUNE FROM MAY, 2.9% YOY, GOVT ANNOUNCES £1.1 BN PLAN TO ELECTRIFY MORE OF ITS RAIL SYSTEM
'This is not only an issue of economics. It is also an emotional issue. It is also an issue that is related to sovereignty,' said Skarphedinsson, a former fisherman."
Svenja O’Donnell at Bloomberg reports that UK retail sales rose 1.2% in June from May, and 2.9% from June 2008.
"Sales at food stores increased by 0.7%, while they rose 1.6% at non-food retailers, the statistics office said. Textile, clothing and footwear shops saw sales increase for the first time in three months, by 4.7%."Meanwhile, Nicholas Winning at the Wall Street Journal reports that the UK has announced plans to spend £1.1 billion ($1.81 billion) on electrifying two rail routes.
"The works represent the first big electrification of the rail network since the 1980s and will increase the proportion of electric rail journeys in the UK to 67% from 60%, the government said."4. RUSSIAN MINISTERS TO CONSIDER 0% TAX ON INITIAL MINERAL EXTRACTION IN THE BLACK SEA AND SEA OF OKHTOSK, BUT WARNS MOL THAT IT HAD BETTER COMPLY WITH LICENSING IN SIBERIAN FIELD
Kate Mackenzie at FT Energy Source reports that Russian ministers today will discuss setting a zero rate of taxation for mineral extraction for the initial stages of development in the Black Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
"The tax breaks will apply until accumulative output reaches 20 million metric tons (~ 144 million barrels) at Black Sea fields and 30 million metric tons (~210 million barrels) in the Sea of Okhotsk, off Russia’s Pacific Coast. Alternatively, the zero rate may be applicable for 10 years or 15 years for fields being developed under combined exploration and production licenses, according to the statement."Though I feel sure that it will be tempting enough to make some majors bite, the problem is that when the price of oil rises, Moscow will likely take measures to re-nationalize production at the fields, given their view of their strategic value. Meanwhile, Stephen Bierman and Edith Balazs at Bloomberg report that Mol--Hungary's largest refiner--pledged to meet all requirements in the license terms of a Siberian oil-production venture with OAO Russneft.
"'Mol always acts in accordance with the rules of the Russian Federation and the company will do everything on its part to fulfill all the requirements described in the license agreement,' Mol said today in an e-mailed statement.5. BIDEN CALLS ON RUSSIA TO REMOVE TROOPS FROM GEORGIAN BREAKAWAY REGIONS, BUT ALSO INDICATES THERE IS NO MILITARY OPTION FOR THEIR REMOVAL
On July 2 Russia’s subsoil agency, Rosnedra, gave the Zapadno-Malobalykskoye LLC oil venture six months to correct violations relating to its drilling plan and its use of so-called associated gas, Larisa Kalacheva, a spokeswoman for Russneft, said today. 'The time allotted to correct license infractions is very tight,' she said. 'Action is needed.'
Tensions between Mol and the Russian government have increased since Moscow-based OAO Surgutneftegaz bought a 21.2% share in the Budapest-based refiner in March. Mol called the move hostile and has barred the Russian company from participating in corporate meetings."
Philip P Pan at the Washington Post reports that in Tblisi today Vice President Joe Biden urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the breakaway regions of Georgia.
"'What we can do is make clear to the whole world, and to the Russians particularly, that we stand with you, and that if they fail to meet their commitments, that it is a problem for them,' Biden told the children, referring to a ceasefire agreement that the Georgia and the United States say Russia is violating.However, earlier in the day in a speech before the Georgian parliament, Biden said there was "no military option" for Georgia to regain sovereignty over the breakaway regions.
'A lot of you think maybe Russia did what they did, and they paid no price,' Biden added. 'They paid a pretty big price already diplomatically. The countries that surround Russia, even those that have been very, very loyal to Russia in their freedom, are now saying very harsh things.'"
6. CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTRY TO LAUNCH CHINESE / ENGLISH WEB SITE, CENTRAL BANKS OF CHINA, JAPAN, AND SOUTH KOREA ATTEND FIRST TRIPARTITE MEETING
Tini Tran at the Associated Press reports that the Chinese defense ministry will launch an official web site in both Chinese and English on August 1.
"The Web site appears aimed at reassuring Asian and Western nations that the PLA is becoming more accessible to the outside world, experts told the China Daily.(h/t Sky Canaves at China Journal.) Meanwhile, the first tripartite meeting of the central banks of China, Japan, and South Korea took place today in Shenzhen.
'As more attention is being given to online information, the Chinese army has moved one step forward in its public diplomacy,' Professor Li Xiguang, dean of Tsinghua University's journalism school, was quoted as saying.
The Web site's launch 'is a major step for the PLA to open up to the outside world,' Sr Col Huang Xueping, deputy director of the ministry's information office, said in an interview with the newspaper. The office was only set up last year.
The site will 'cover a large amount of information,' featuring regular activities and background of the Chinese military."
"On December 10, 2008, in order to strengthen their mutual cooperation and communication and better safeguard economic and financial stability in the region, the three central banks jointly announced the establishment of a formal Tripartite Governors’ Meeting mechanism, based on the existing dialogue, which will take place once a year."(h/t Rebecca Wilder at News N Economics.)
7. CLINTON SAYS US PREPARED TO EXPAND COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH MYANMAR IF THEY RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONERS
Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post reports that Secretary Clinton told the media that the US was prepared to expand its commercial and aid relationship with Myanmar if it were to release political prisoners, and specifically Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
8. AHMADINEJAD APPARENTLY DEFYING LOTR CALL FOR HIM TO WITHDRAW VP NOMINATION, IRAN SAYS IT HAS FOUND 46 OIL FIELDS IN THE CASPIAN
Ali Akbar Dareini and Lee Keath at the Associated Press report that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has apparently chosen to defy the Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, who has called upon the president to withdraw his choice for first Vice President,Ahmadinejad's son-in-law.
"Arguing for a further chance to make his case, Ahmadinejad said, 'there is a need for time and another opportunity to fully explain my real feelings and assessment about Mr Mashai.'"Dareini and Keath observe
"Now Khamenei is facing tests to his authority on two fronts. One is from Ahmadinejad, the other is the open defiance from the reformist opposition, which has continued its campaign against Ahmadinejad despite the supreme leader's declarations that the election dispute is over."I would put it more as tests of authority from those who see the representative elements of the Constitution in their best interests and those who see it as protecting the vested interests of the old guard, but the point is salient nonetheless. Meanwhile, Xinhua reports that Iran's Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari has reportedly said that Iran has identified 46 oil fields in the Caspian Sea, of which eight are ready for exploitation immediately. (h/t Leanan at the Oil Drum.)
9. MOODY'S UPGRADES PHILLIPINE SOVEREIGN DEBT
Karl Lester M Yap at Bloomberg reports that Moody's rating on Philippine sovereign debt was raised to Ba3 from B1, the highest the country has received in more than three years.
"'The upgrade was prompted by the relatively high degree of resiliency exhibited by both the country’s financial system and external payments position in face of the global financial and economic crises,' Moody’s said. 'International reserves of the central bank are at a historical high and exceptional policy measures have not been required to shield the banking system.'10. MEXICAN IMMIGRATION TO THE US HAS SLOWED MARKEDLY SINCE 2006, BUT EMIGRATION BACK TO MEXICO HOLDING STEADY
Philippine international reserves climbed to a record $39.56 billion in January, as rising remittances sent home by citizens abroad countered collapsing exports. Higher debt ratings reduce the cost of borrowing, making it easier for the Philippines to sell debt to fund government spending plans."
In a report released yesterday, the Pew Hispanic Center concluded that:
"The flow of immigrants from Mexico to the United States has declined sharply since mid-decade, but there is no evidence of an increase in Mexican-born migrants returning home from the US.
Survey data from the US and Mexico reveal a large flow of migrants back to Mexico, but the size of the return flow appears to be stable since 2006."
(h/t Conor Dougherty at Real Time Economics.)
11. NAR ANNOUNCES THAT EXISTING HOME SALES ROSE 3.6% IN JUNE FROM MAY, DOWN 0.2% YOY; MEDIAN PRICES DOWN 15.4% FROM JUNE 2008
Maya Jackson Randall at the Wall Street Journal writes that the National Association of Realtors announced that existing home sales in June rose 3.6% from May, but are still down 0.2% from June 2008.
"Foreclosures and short sales reflect 31% of sales in June. Distressed property sales have pushed prices lower, year over year. The median price for an existing home last month was $181,800, a 15.4% decrease from June 2008."Meanwhile, the Department of Labor announced today that seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ended July 18 were
"554,000, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 524,000. The 4-week moving average was 566,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's average of 585,000."12. USDA REPORT CONCLUDES FARMERS SITTING ON GOLD MINE IN CARBON OFFSETS INCLUDED IN CLIMATE BILL
Keith Johnson at Environmental Capital writes that a new report from the Agricultural Department concludes that farmers stand to make a fortune from the carbon offsets included in the climate bill.
"To wit: Farmer’s incomes will take a hit in the short term, falling by 1% through 2018. Things will get worse by 2027 (a 3.5% decline) and even worse by 2048 (a 7.2% decline.) That’s because things like fuel and fertilizer will cost more under the climate bill.Today's must read. The USDA report itself can be found here.
But farmers’ net incomes will keep rising, because they will be literally standing on a gold mine in the form of carbon offsets, which will become increasingly valuable. The goods:
'EPA’s analysis projects annual net returns to farmers of about $1-2 billion per year from 2012-18, rising to $20 billion per year in 2050. USDA’s analysis strongly suggests that revenue from agricultural offsets (afforestation, soil carbon, methane reduction, nitrous oxide reductions) rise faster than costs to agriculture from cap and trade legislation. It appears that in the medium to long term, net revenue from offsets will likely overtake net costs from HR 2454, perhaps substantially.'
It might be even juicier; the EPA’s Ms. Jackson estimated the value of agricultural offsets at more than $3 billion in 2020.
And wait—there’s more. '[W]e believe our analysis is conservative--it’s quite possible farmers will actually do better,' Secretary Vilsack said.
That’s because farmers also stand to make a fortune off of other government energy policies, such as ambitious mandates for renewable energy and biofuels that will create lucrative, mandatory markets for crops and even agricultural waste."
13. OCCIDENTAL FINDS SIZABLE NEW OIL FIELD IN CALIFORNIA
The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that Occidental has announced a significant oil and gas find in Kern County, California.
"The company said in a statement that it believes there are between 150 million and 250 million gross barrels of oil equivalent reserves within the area. Approximately two-thirds of the discovery is believed to be natural gas.That represents about 1.8-3 global days of oil demand.
Occidental holds an approximate 80% stake in the property, with Chevron Corp. holding the remaining interest."