In Brief – N.2 – December 14, 2014

Warning sign for consumer confidence? 2014 Black Friday sales seem disappointing especially for online shopping. According to the US National Retail Federation (NRF), the sales decreased by 5.2 percent year-on-year.

The Swiss rejected by 78% of the vote the proposals from the right-wing People’s Party to double gold reserves of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and to curb by 3/4 annual resident immigration on environmental considerations.

Government of Japan’s debt rating was downgraded from Aa3 to A1 with stable outlook by Moody’s, mainly because of heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals while the JPY is at a lowest against the USD.

Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline will be terminated. “We couldn’t get necessary permissions from Bulgaria, so we cannot continue with the project,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin while on an official visit to Ankara.

Ashton B. Carter, former deputy defense minister is likely to get the Pentagon’s top job. As an expert in military bureaucratic and industrial issues, he stands a very good chance of being confirmed by the Republican Senate by January 2015.

Following the sacking of two centrist ministers including Tzipi Livni by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, early parliamentary elections will be held in spring 2015. Netanyahu seeks to end the “ungovernable” cabinet he led since March 2013.

Why France and not Turkey? While France is undergoing intense pressure from US and NATO allies over the Mistral contract with Russia, Turkey seems free to do whatever it wants… with Russia.

Former Governor General of Canada and of Haitian descent, Michaëlle Jean is the first female ever to be appointed as Secretary-General of La Francophonie. French as a language will become, like English, a strategic issue within the next 30 years.

Strong warning from Athens where the stock market slumped 6% in the morning on Dec. 9, 2014 lest the presidential election on Dec. 17, 2014 either disrupts or reverses the course of reforms.

Some said Brazil is the place where to invest in 2015, others said it’s better to flee sooner than later. In the end, rien ne va plus! in the very fragmented BRICS.

By testing strong supports, analysts are wondering if European stock markets are on the starting blocks for a Christmas rally, like most of the years except 2011.