Monday, April 19, 2010

SEC votes 3-2 and it's off to the races!!

When news broke that the SEC had only voted 3-2 to go after Goldman the market lemmings jumped back in with both feet pushing Goldman and the markets into positive territory. As others have noted though, this move happened despite the fact that credit default swaps on Goldman - basically insurance on Goldman's future ability to survive became more expensive.

The Citigroup profit certainly didn't hurt the momentum game, but again, the story at Citigroup is not about profits and losses it's about the accounting games that can be played now that losses can be ignored indefinitely. I'd expect some more rational thinking on Citigroup to make its way onto the Street over the coming days (ironically, Goldman is still negative on Citi and has them rated underperform :)

On a related topic Greece continues to teeter on the brink and no one seems to be watching. I found it very interesting that some of the big boys that made some serious ducats off the Greek and Dubai mini-debt panics are rolling the dice on ........ France! It seems like a stretch to me, but frankly about 3 yrs ago - Lehman, Merrill, Bear Sterns, and AIG all going POOF! seemed pretty improbable.

Well, at least Europe will reopen for business tomorrow. I've found the whole "closing of airspace" to be a bit drastic since it seems to be based on a single event back in 1982. I imagine there will be some sleepless nights for airline CEOs until all of those European flights are back on the ground.

However, it's interesting to see that Europeans still have a healthy perspective of what you have to do to earn a vacation.....Brussels declares holidays are a human right.

"An overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.

Tajani, who unveiled his plan last week at a ministerial conference in Madrid, believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.

Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”.

Tajani’s programme will be piloted until 2013 and then put into full operation. It will be open to pensioners and anyone over 65, young people between 18 and 25, families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances and disabled people. The disabled and the elderly can be accompanied by one person.
In the initial phase, northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe and vice versa. Details of how participants are chosen have not yet been finalised, but it is expected the EU will subsidise about 30% of the cost.

Tajani’s spokesman said: “Why should someone from the Mediterranean not be able to travel to Edinburgh in summer for a breath of cool, fresh air; why should someone from Edinburgh not be able to travel to Greece in winter?”

Stat of the day: India's mobile subscribers totalled 563.73 million at the last count, enough to serve nearly half of the country's 1.2 billion population.

But just 366 million people - around a third of the population - had access to proper sanitation in 2008, said the study published by the United Nations University, a UN think-tank.

"It is a tragic irony to think in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones," so many people "cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet," said Zafar Adeel, the UN University director.


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