President Asif Ali Zardari’s government needs about £3 billion to avoid defaulting on outstanding debts. So far, a tour of friendly capitals by Shaukat Tareen, the country’s senior finance official, has failed to raise this sum.
Although Mr Tareen has visited both America and China – Pakistan’s two key allies – a bail-out on a sufficient scale has not yet been agreed. Moody’s, the international ratings agency, has downgraded Pakistan’s standing.
The country’s allies, including Britain, will be joining a “friends of Pakistan” meeting in Abu Dhabi next month when more aid might be agreed. In the meantime, Mr Tareen is believed to be seeking immediate help from the IMF.
Short selling is basically the practice of selling borrowed shares, with the intention of purchasing them back later at a lower price. It amounts to a placing a bet on the share value dropping, is a favoured move of hedge funds, and has been recently blamed for much of the current economic mayhem.
However, when last Sunday Porsche tersely announced that, in addition to its 44% of Volkswagen‘s shares, it had secured 31% through cash-settled call options, the invisible hand of the market gave those short-sellers an atomic wedgie:
Since the German state of Lower Saxony holds just over 20% of VW, Porsche’s disclosure meant that, in fact, there were only 5% of VW’s shares left on the market, whereas traders were shorting for about 13% of those shares. This set off the “Mother of All Short Squeezes“.
Traders scrambled to buy those few shares to cover their short positions, sending the share price of VW upwards to ridiculous heights, and completely distorting the German blue-chip index DAX.
Today, Porsche eased the pressure on the short-sellers by releasing 5% of VW’s shares. Coincidentally, this also probably bagged them enough billions (never mind street cred) to finance their whole takeover operation. Suddenly, even hedge fund managers are clamouring for more disclosure and regulation in the markets. They aren’t meeting much sympathy.
It wasn’t until after Sunday’s Sen. John McCain rally at the University of Northern Iowa that the 19-year-old Center Point-Urbana graduate found out how much fun she was having.
Andersen, a UNI sophomore, was “just being silly” when she put her hair up in a Gov. Sarah Palin-like “poof,” donned glasses similar to those the Republican vice presidential nominee wears and talked her way on to the stage where McCain delivered his speech.
She isn’t sure McCain even noticed her, but photographers and videographers did. Soon, images of Andersen peering over McCain’s shoulder were all over networks and the Internet. Before the rally was over, Andersen’s dad received a call from a friend who had seen her on MSNBC.
The hot-button issues of CEO pay and the Wall Street bailout may soon collide with the real world of Wall Street bonuses, taxpayer and shareholder anger over the financial crisis, and a Treasury secretary with deep roots on Wall Street. And that collision could be loud and ugly.
The first salvos were fired late Tuesday when Rep. Henry Waxman, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, disclosed that he sent letters to the first nine major banks set to receive a capital injection from the government, seeking information on their compensation and bonus plans for 2008 and other years.
“The corporate community doesn’t seem to get it,” says a seething Nell Minow, founder of the Corporate Library, which focuses on corporate governance issues. “If the corporate leaders don’t come to the American people with some accountability, they are going to find themselves in a world of pain. Congress will set CEO pay.”
In a statement about his inquiry, Rep. Waxman’s cites reports about billions in bonuses and quotes an unnamed analyst as saying: “Had it not been for the government’s help in refinancing their debt, they [the companies] may not have had the cash to pay bonuses.”
In the good old days, a question to tech support got you a exhaustingly correct answer.
The number that stood out for me in the Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability Report, which I would not recommend to those of a nervous disposition, is its estimate that £5,000bn has implicitly or explicitly been made available by central banks and governments since April 2008 to support wholesale funding by banks.
That is a genuinely big number. It’s equivalent to about a sixth of the total annual economic output of the whole world.
So to put it another way, we as the taxpayers of the world are funding our banks to the tune of one-sixth of everything we produce.
Blimey, if I may be so bold.
Audience members escorted out of Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., campaign event in Cedar Falls questioned why they were asked to leave Sunday’s rally even though they were not protesting.
“When I started talking to them, it kind of became clear that they were kind of just telling people to leave that they thought maybe would be disruptive, but based on what? Based on how they looked,” Elborno said. “It was pretty much all young people, the college demographic.”
Elborno said even McCain supporters were among those being asked to leave.
“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said. “They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.”
Also, an amateur used an iPhone (and a telescope) to capture this image of Jupiter:
Sure, it’s not the best, but c’mon, it was taken with an iPhone.
We live in the future. Still no flying cars, but we live in the future.
Burried deep inside the War Crimes Detainee bill recently passed by the House, is a provision that would pardon President Bush and his administration for violation of the Geneva conventions. Some of these crimes are violations punishable by death.
President Bush seeks to Pardon himself and his administration in advance for violating the Geneva Conventions in an effort to avoid possible prosectution in the future.
I’m sympathetic to Eskew and Wallace, and not just because they’re decent people. They’ve held their tongue from leaking what a couple of McCain higher-ups have told me—namely, that Palin simply knew nothing about national and international issues. Which meant, as one such adviser said to me: “Letting Sarah be Sarah may not be such a good thing.” It’s a grim binary choice, but apparently it came down to whether to make Palin look like a scripted robot or an unscripted ignoramus. I was told that Palin chafed at being defined by her discomfiting performances in the Couric, Charlie Gibson, and Sean Hannity interviews. She wanted to get back out there and do more. Well, if you’re Eskew and Wallace, what do you say to that? Your responsibility isn’t the care and feeding of Sarah Palin’s ego; it’s the furtherance of John McCain’s quest for the presidency.
On the other hand, it had to be hard for Sarah Palin—who has achieved all she’s achieved with a highly personal touch—to take all this ridicule under an enforced gag order. After being introduced to the world as one of the “Team of Mavericks,” she’s admonished not to be one. She’s being called out by some McCainites for not cleaving to all of the senator’s positions. The Republicans who fawned over her superstar looks are now shocked—shocked!—to learn that her much-admired wardrobe has been purchased with RNC funds. I’ve heard from one well-placed source that McCain has snubbed her on one long bus ride aboard the Straight Talk Express, to the embarrassment of those sitting nearby. It has surely been implied to the governor that she should be eternally grateful to have been plucked from obscurity. And yet the high water mark of John McCain’s campaign for the presidency unquestionably began on September 3, when Palin gave her nomination speech—and ended precisely twelve days later, when McCain went off-script—I have that on the authority of the person who participated in the writing of said script—and told an audience that he still believed the fundamentals of the economy were strong.
While John McCain cancelled one event in Pennsylvania owing to the foul weather, Barack Obama paid tribute to more than 9,000 hardy supporters who turned out at an outdoors rally, despite freezing rain and driving winds
from math import * def f(x): return int(round(96.75 -21.98*cos(x*1.118) 13.29*sin(x*1.118) -8.387*cos(2*x*1.118)\ 17.94*sin(2*x*1.118) 1.265*cos(3*x*1.118) 16.58*sin(3*x*1.118)\ 3.988*cos(4*x*1.118) 8.463*sin(4*x*1.118) 0.3583*cos(5*x*1.118)\ 5.878*sin(5*x*1.118))) print "".join([chr(f(x)) for x in range(12)])