In Brief – N.12 – May 3, 2015

In an interview with the Financial Times, the Japanese head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao has dismissed China’s move to establish a rival, saying the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was years away from parity in resources or potential impact.

The Central Bank of China announced that it will cut its bank reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by 1 percentage point to fuel more lending into a slowing economy. The People’s Daily said the cut will release 1.2 trillion yuan ($194 billion).

Good Q1 2015 for JP Morgan too: “this was our strongest quarter in many years with improved performance across most areas of the firm. It reflects our ongoing strategy to build platforms for growth while maintaining a prudent risk profile and disciplined expense management,” James P. Gorman, Chairman and CEO said.

After Google, it’s now the turn of Russia’s energy giant Gazprom to be in the eye of the storm with the European Commission (EC) about to send a formal statement of objections regarding antitrust charges and accusations of illegal abuse of Gazprom dominant position in Europe’s gas market.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter Ashlee Vance wrote in a book that Google could have bought Tesla for $6 billion in 2013 but the deal finally didn’t take place. It is unclear who or why the deal never concretized, but Tesla was looking for financial support for its production expansion as it was apparently on the verge of bankruptcy.

India’s Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley called for caution in Washington DC saying that “the growth in some advanced countries has not improved as much as we had anticipated. Emerging market economies face a high risk of negative spill-overs from unconventional monetary policy actions of advanced economies.”

“The Shanghai Composite Index is up 94 percent over the last 12 months and some $4 trillion has been added to the total market value – now $7.3 trillion,” a blog post titled China’s Long-Term Play by the US Department of Commerce underlined.

By 2050, between 63 and 83 million people in the Latin American region will be at risk of not receiving an adequate pension, unless pension systems are reformed and efforts are made to increase formal sector employment, according to a joint report released at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the OECD.

Saudi Arabia has halted airstrikes in Yemen on midnight of April 21, 2015 while naval blockade continued. Saudi coalition spokesperson said that, after a thousand people dead, a new stage has begun in the operations, reported Pakistan-based Dunya News.

“I believe ISIS is our greatest enemy right now,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russian radio stations. “As far as (relations with the) United States are concerned, these are state issues, these are issues of the world order, which have to be resolved through talks,” Lavrov added.

OAO Gazprom considered the claims brought by the European Commission (EC) to be unsubstantiated after the adoption of “statement of objections” on antitrust charges. “Operation of Gazprom Group on the EU market, including applicable principles of gas pricing, meets the standards that are used by other producers and exporters of gas,” the communiqué said.

US existing-home sales jumped in March 2015 to their highest annual rate in 18 months, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, commented.

“For the moment I’d say the delivery of the Mistrals (to Russia), in the context we all know, isn’t possible. (…) If the boats aren’t delivered, I don’t see how they could be paid, this is quite a simple principle. (…) Among the different hypotheses, you’d have reimbursement or payment,” French President François Hollande said.

Petrobras presented a loss of $7.18 billion in 2014, in part due to the charges of the Federal Police’s “Operação Lava Jato” anti-corruption investigation. However the group’s oil and natural gas production (in Brazil and abroad) rose by 5% in relation to 2013, reaching an average of 2.699 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe) in 2014.

Since Rouhani administration took office in 2013, Iran’s Finance Ministry wrote, European countries has started to revise their attitude towards the Islamic Republic, with a significant increase in the number European trade delegations visiting Iran.

UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has handed Deutsche Bank AG a $340 million fine, its largest ever for LIBOR and EURIBOR-related (collectively known as IBOR) misconduct. “This case stands out for the seriousness and duration of the breaches by Deutsche Bank,” FCA official Georgina Philippou said.

“One economic uncertainty stands out, that of continuing UK membership of the EU,” HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint told CNNMoney after he warned the bank could move its HQ out of the UK because of “the regulatory and structural reforms which have been put in place post crisis.” The HSBC has 8,500 employees in London’s Canary Wharf, its biggest office worldwide.

Greece’s is in the eye of a possible new financial storm, yet it does not have adequate online communication means for its policies to be better understood by media and the public opinion. For instance, the press room of Greece’s Ministry of Finance is rather incomplete if not empty. Greece should dedicate a bit more means for its online communication.

EU leaders agreed to mobilize all efforts at their disposal to prevent further loss of life at sea and to tackle the root causes of the human emergency. “The problems we face will not be met with solutions if we deal only with illegal immigration,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Violent riots are extending between demonstrators and law enforcement forces in Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi where opponents to the candidacy of Pierre Nkurunziza for a third mandate went on the streets and protested.

Saudi Arabia finally continued military air strikes in Yemen although it announced its end. With Riyadh’s massing special troops at the border with Yemen, there is fear that the situation degenerates further between the Saudi Kingdom and the Iran-backed Houthis.

French company Capgemini’s stock skyrocketed 7 percent after it announced it will acquire US-based rival IGate and increased revenue by 10.5 percent in Q1 2015 thanks to strong growth in North America.

China now has the second-largest wine-growing area in the world after Spain, pushing France into third place, according to figures released by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). However France remains the biggest producer and seller of wine in the world.

Sudan‘s President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected with 94.5 percent of a vote boycotted by major opposition parties. Simultaneously, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev won re-election with 97.7 percent of the vote after facing no real challenge from his two rivals.

Riots and looting erupted in Baltimore, USA, after Freddie Gray‘s funeral, causing scenes of civil war and prompting a state of emergency and a city-wide curfew. 25-year-old Gray died a week after his arrest by police forces.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that the first edition of the Russia-Vietnam industrial exhibition will be held next November.

Twitter Inc. tumbled around 18% after the early leak of disappointing Q1 2015 results well below Wall Street expectations. One the same day, Twitter acquired marketing technology company TellApart.

Iranian personnel boarded the Maersk Tigris container ship, a Marshall Islands-flagged commercial vessel. Shots were fired across its bridge, said the US DOD.

On the occasion of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s State Visit to the USA, he and his counterpart Barack Obama stressed the strength of their two countries’ alliance.

US-based XPO Logistics will acquire a majority interest in Norbert Dentressangle, a France-based leading global provider of contract logistics with 662 locations and approximately 42,350 employees.

President François Hollande announced 3.2 billion euros more for France’s defense budget for the next four years, totaling around 31.5 billion euros per year, nuclear forces non-included.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to propose rules to require companies to disclose the relationship between executive compensation and the financial performance of a company.

PIMCO announced that Dr. Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Fed), will serve as a senior advisor to the firm, contributing his economic expertise and insights to the firm’s investment process.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is one of two lead investors in a $50 million funding round for bitcoin startup Circle Internet Financial Ltd, valuing Circle at around $200 million.

Qatar decided to acquire 24 Rafale aircraft to equip its Air Force. The contract is to be signed on May 4, 2015 in Doha in the presence of French President François Hollande.

UK election enters its final week. Latest poll from IPSOS Mori showed a clear boost for PM David Cameron and put Conservatives at 35%, Labour at 30%, and UKIP at 10%.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had what he called a “frank conversation” on Iran talks, region and beyond at the NYU. He also battled with US Senator Tom Cotton on Twitter.

General Motors (GM) announced it will invest $5.4 billion in US plant improvements during the next three years, including details of $783.5 million for three Michigan facilities.

Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to decline for a fifth consecutive year – dipping below 1 percent in 2015 – although there are clear differences along North-South lines, the IMF said.

Finally, officially because of “internal issues”, because of special treatment he allegedly was refused according to media, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not visit Russia.