Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have an op ed in today's Wall Street Journal to outline the aims of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue which kicks off today. Key excerpt:
"To keep up with these changes that affect our citizens and our planet, we need to update our official ties with Beijing. During their first meeting in April, President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao announced a new dialogue as part of the administration’s efforts to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with Beijing. So this week we will meet together in Washington with two of the highest-ranking officials in the Chinese government, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, to develop a new framework for US-China relations. Many of our cabinet colleagues will join us in this 'Strategic and Economic Dialogue,' along with an equally large number of the most senior leaders of the Chinese government. Why are we doing this with China, and what does it mean for Americans?2. CHINA TO LAUNCH ARABIC-LANGUAGE TV STATION IN MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
Simply put, few global problems can be solved by the US or China alone. And few can be solved without the US and China together. The strength of the global economy, the health of the global environment, the stability of fragile states and the solution to nonproliferation challenges turn in large measure on cooperation between the US and China. While our two-day dialogue will break new ground in combining discussions of both economic and foreign policies, we will be building on the efforts of the past seven US administrations and on the existing tapestry of government-to-government exchanges and cooperation in several dozen different areas.
At the top of the list will be assuring recovery from the most serious global economic crisis in generations and assuring balanced and sustained global growth once recovery has taken hold. When the current crisis struck, the US and China acted quickly and aggressively to support economic activity and to create and save jobs. The success of the world’s major economies in blunting the force of the global recession and setting the stage for recovery is due in substantial measure to the bold steps our two nations have taken.
As we move toward recovery, we must take additional steps to lay the foundation for balanced and sustainable growth in the years to come. That will involve Americans rebuilding our savings, strengthening our financial system and investing in energy, education and health care to make our nation more productive and prosperous. For China it involves continuing financial sector reform and development. It also involves spurring domestic demand growth and making the Chinese economy less reliant on exports. Raising personal incomes and strengthening the social safety net to address the reasons why Chinese feel compelled to save so much would provide a powerful boost to Chinese domestic demand and global growth."
The AFP reported on Saturday that China Central Television launched an Arabic-language channel which will air in the Middle East and Africa.
"Beijing is carrying out a multibillion-dollar effort to raise the profile of its state media abroad by expanding CCTV, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily and the official Xinhua News Agency.It also has plans for a Russian language channel. (h/t Sky Canaves at China Journal.)
The effort has a budget of 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion), according to a report last month by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
The Arabic channel will carry news, feature stories, entertainment and education programs and will gradually expand its offerings, CCTV said. The network already broadcasts in English, French and Spanish as well as in Mandarin."
3. FIRST PUBLIC PRESIDENT-TO-PRESIDENT EXCHANGE BETWEEN BEIJING AND TAIPEI IN 60 YEARS
Weiyi Lim at Bloomberg reports that China’s President Hu Jintao sent a message congratulating Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on his election to the head of the Kuomintang Party. It was the first public exchange between the leaders of mainland China and Taiwan in 60 years.
4. PETROCHINA BUYS 70.13% OF SINGAPORE PETROLEUM COMPANY
Norazlina Juma'at at Platts reports that PetroChina International on Friday announced it had increased its holdings of Singapore Petroleum Company to approximately 70.13% of the shares outstanding.
"On June 21 PetroChina had completed a deal to buy 45.51% in SPC from Singapore's Keppel Corp. for just over $1 billion and had launched an offer for all remaining shares."SPC operates one of the three major refining projects in Singapore, which is a major trading and shipping hub for petroleum products in the Asia Pacific. The city state's total refining capacity is about 1.3 mb/d. SPC owns 50% of Singapore Refining Company Private Limited which has a 50% stake in the 273.6 kb/d refinery joint venture with Chevron on Jurong Island.
5. INDIA LAUNCHES FIRST INDIGENOUS NUCLEAR POWER SUBMARINE FOR SEA TEST
Voice of America reports that India has launched its first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, the Arihant or "Destroyer of Enemies," for sea trials in the Bay of Bengal. The Arihant was built with the assistance of Russia, has a crew of about 100 men, and will be armed with ballistic missiles.
"India already has fighter aircraft and missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. If all goes well with the trials, the Arihant will give India an underwater ballistic missile capability after the tests are conducted.Galrahn at Information Dissemination comments:
After launching the submarine, Prime Minister Singh said 'we do not have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone.' But he said that the sea is increasingly becoming relevant in the context of India's security interests, making it necessary to 're-adjust our military preparedness to this changing environment.'"
"This beings India closer to becoming the first nation in decades to develop a nuclear triad, and the first nation to do so in the Indian Ocean area. While this development does not shift any balance of power in the region, it certainly gives both Pakistan and China something to think about. There is something else though, it will also give India a case for becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a discussion the current permanent five members are not looking forward to."6. RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH PATRIARCH IN KIEV TO TRY AND MEND RIFT WITH UKRAINIAN METROPOLITAN
Maria Danilova at the Associated Press reports that the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill led a prayer service in Kiev today in part of a 10-day visit intended to mend the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and a breakaway Ukrainian Orthodox church.
"Currently, Ukraine's main Orthodox church answers to Kirill, but a breakaway church that has proclaimed itself independent from Moscow in the 1990's has been gaining popularity and political support in this predominantly Orthodox country of 46 million.
[Ukrainian President Viktor] Yushchenko, who has sought to break free from Russia's centuries-old political dominance and integrate with the West, has appealed to the spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox believers, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, to recognize a local Ukrainian church that would be independent of the powerful Moscow patriarchate.
Bartholomew, who visited Kiev last summer, has not given a clear response.
Kirill is to meet with Yushchenko later in the day. He told reporters after the prayers that he had no immediate plans to meet with the representatives of the breakaway church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate."
7. TURKMENISTAN SAYS IT WILL HONOR DECISION OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION COURT'S RULING ON CASPIAN BORDER WITH AZERBAIJAN
John Roberts at Platts reports that Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov on Friday officially asked foreign minister Rashid Meredov to file a request before an international court of arbitration asking it to settle a long-standing dispute between Ashgabat and Baku on their Caspian borders.
"'The issue of demarcation of the sea bed and the sea's mineral resources between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, as well as the definition of median line there, remain unresolved for a long time due to Azerbaijan's specific position,' Berdimukhammedov [reportedly said on Saturday].Any planned natural gas pipeline that would traverse the Caspian would theoretically at least require the demarcation and sea bed issues resolved previous to construction. One potential pipeline to be routed through the Caspian is Nabucco. Worth reading in full.
'Turkmenistan will be ready to accept any ruling to be issued by the International Court of Arbitration on this issue,' he said.
In its first response to the Berdymukhammedov declaration, Azerbaijan made no direct reference to arbitration, but the statement from deputy foreign minister Xalaf Xalafov to Azerbaijan's ANS television Saturday that Baku would defend its position could be interpreted as an indication that it was prepared to submit its case to arbitration."
8. 80-90% VOTER TURNOUT REPORTED IN KURDISH REGIONAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS THIS WKEND
Ben Lando, Serage Malik, Rawsam Latif and Istifan Braymok at Iraq Oil Report that turnout in the Kurdish Regional Government's elections this weekend was at, according to early estimates, between 80 and 90% of eligible voters.
"To be sure, there have been complaints, during the campaign and at the polls, and it’s up to the Independent High Electoral Commission in the coming days to determine how serious they are. Preliminary results are expected by Sunday, and final results certified by the IHEC within five days. But in a region specifically and in a country generally where the challenger has seen bullets and prison instead of campaign flyers, the general sentiment is forward looking."9. IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS CRITICIZE PRESIDENT'S RELUCTANCE TO IMMEDIATELY HONOR LOTR'S INSTRUCTIONS, SOME CALL FOR VOTE OF CONFIDENCE
Press TV reports that more than 200 members of Iran's parliament, the Majlis, have called upon President Ahmadinejad to "fully and promptly comply with the Leader's instructions."
"[T]he president's reluctance to reverse the decision [to appoint his son in law first Vice President] was called into question even by his own ministers. As a sign of protest, three of the ministers--Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad-Hassan Saffar-Harandi and Labor Minister Mohammad Jahromi--walked out of a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.Article 136 of the Constitution requires the President to call for a vote of confidence at the Majlis is half or more of his cabinet is replaced.
Although news broke out that the Ahmadinejad administration had sacked the ministers, the government moved to clarify the issue after a senior member of parliament suggested that the administration had lost its legitimacy with the measure as it had removed too many Cabinet members during the first Ahmadinejad tenure.
Only the intelligence minister has been removed, said an official working for the presidential office.
The dismissal has intensified pressures on Ahmadinejad by parliament members who contend that the ninth government is obliged to seek a new vote of confidence in its remaining 7 days in office.
According to parliament Vice Speaker Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, all Cabinet sessions of the current government are 'illegal' until the official second-term inauguration of the president."
10. KUWAIT, QATAR, BAHRAIN LINK ELECTRICITY GRIDS
Miriam Amie at Platts writes that KUNA reported today that Sunday Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain successfully linked their electrical power grid networks.
"Over a decade ago, the six GCC states agreed at a summit to set up the power grid to cope with the regions rapidly increasing electricity consumption. Draws on electrical power stations throughout the GCC increase dramatically during peak usage times in summer between April and September.11. DECOUPLING WAS ALWAYS A MYTH, ARGUES WÄLTI
The estimated $1.4 billion electrical network is being initiated one year later than previously expected.
Earlier this month, five of the GCC states, except Oman, signed a power trading agreement setting terms between transmission system operators, and power procurement companies for the purpose of exchanging or trading electrical power."
Sébastien Wälti at VoxEU argues that the notion that the developing economies were decoupling from the developed economies was always a myth, and that the process of globalization leads, intuitively even, to greater business cycle synchronization.
"Figure 2 shows that the degree of business cycle synchronicity between emerging markets and advanced economies has not decreased in recent years. The evidence on individual emerging markets shows that there is no country (except for Peru) which reports a general decline in its degree of synchronicity with all four groups of advanced economies."12. IEA OIL DEMAND FORECAST AHISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP TO GDP PREDICTION
Mark Shenk at Bloomberg notes that the most recent IEA forecast of a 1.7% increase in oil consumption in 2010 does not fit the historical relationship between GDP growth as forecast by the IMF and oil consumption.
"[T]he IEA’s projections for oil demand growth will trail the World Bank’s forecast for GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, the least in 14 years. Since 1997, oil use has followed GDP by an average of more than 2 percentage points and in 2006 the spread widened to 3.9 percentage points."
"'There’s been a remarkable correlation between GDP and oil demand growth,' said Edward Morse, head of economic research at LCM Commodities LLC in New York. 'The IEA numbers are implausible.'"(h/t Joshua Keating at the FP Morning Brief.)
13. NEW SINGLE FAMILY HOME SALES DOWN 21.3% (±11.4%) FROM JUNE 2008
Barry Ritholtz at the Big Picture reports that US Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that sales of new one-family homes were up 11.0% (±13.2%) in June from May, which is statistically insignificant. They are down 21.3% (±11.4%) from June 2008, which is statistically significant.
14. 80% OF DERIVATIVE ASSETS AND LIABILITIES HELD BY 5 FIRMS (ENERGY FIRMS USING DERIVATIVES MOSTLY FOR HEDGING) PER FITCH REPORT
In a story picked up on in the econoblogosphere over the weekend, David M Katz at CFO.com wrote on July 24 that a Fitch Ratings report released a week prior to his story indicated that about 80% of derivative assets and liabilities are held by five firms--JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley.
"Those five banks also account for more than 96% of the companies' exposure to credit derivatives.It is rather hard to disaggregate hedging from speculative use of derivatives by major energy firms, I would be rather interested to see the methodology for that in this report.
About 52% of the companies reviewed disclosed there were credit-risk-related contingent features in their derivative positions. Such features require a company to post collateral or settle outstanding derivative liabilities if there's a downgrade of the company's credit rating.
The Fitch analysts also found that just 22 companies disclosed the use of equity derivatives. Just six nonfinancial firms--IBM, General Motors, Verizon, Comcast, Textron, and PG&E--reported exposure to share-based derivatives.
For the report, the rating agency reviewed first-quarter 2009 filings of the companies, which come from a range of industries and represent almost $6.4 trillion in aggregate outstanding debt. The companies also recorded a total notional amount of derivative positions of more than $296 trillion.
Unlike the financial firms, which both use derivatives and issue them for profit, nonfinancial companies seem mostly to use derivatives just to hedge specific risks, according to Fitch. While 'derivatives trading by utilities and energy companies appear to be very limited,' for instance, 'most of the companies reviewed in both industries report the use of derivatives for hedging commodity risks,' the report found."