In Brief – N.14 – May 31, 2015

We will implement in full our purchase program as announced and, in any case, until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation,” said ECB President Mario Draghi about the QE started on March 1, 2015.

“If the Greek government thinks it should have a referendum (about the Grexit), then it should organize a referendum,” said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. “Maybe this would be the right measure to let the Greek people decide,” he added.

According to a Russian official, “consultations are being held currently with France on settling the situation (about the cancelled delivery of 2 warships Mistral).” Paris’ proposal to pay back up to €785 million would have been rejected by Moscow.

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos is being criticized because he gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Cyceon remembers he was a communication director for the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and a co-star in exceptional documentary film The War Room (1993).

Airbus, Finmeccanica and Dassault Aviation welcomed the signature of the trinational declaration of intent by Germany, Italy and France for the European MALE drone development.

“It is (…) not clear that the ability to lower key ECB rates deep into negative territory would by itself help ensure a faster return to growth in the euro area,” said Benoît Cœuré, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is not ready to pull the plug on Greece – not yet at least, wrote the New York Times (NYT).

US housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April 2015 and permits soared, offering a glimmer of hope for an economy that is struggling to regain strong momentum after a dismal first quarter.

According to a research note released by Deutsche Bank, if the Federal Reserve, led by Chair Janet Yellen, decides to push back an initial rate hike past September 2015, it ultimately could hurt stocks.

$545 million: UBS AG has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud for conduct in the LIBOR matter, pay a $203 million fine to the US DOJ and accept a three-year term of probation. UBS will also pay a penalty of $342 million to the Fed and has agreed to undertake a series of remedial measures.

Japan, the world’s 3rd-biggest economy, said its economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 2.4 percent annual rate in January-March 2015, thanks largely to a rebound in housing construction.

Over half the accounts of UK customers of the Israeli contracts for difference (CFD) company Plus500 have been suspended on alleged concerns that the accounts may be used for money laundering.

One more alert after shares in China’s solar energy company Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd. whose meteoric rise had troubled market analysts, nearly halved in value during its annual shareholders’ meeting in Hong Kong.

Patrick Drahi’s group Altice has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 70 percent of the share capital in Suddenlink, the 7th largest US cable operator with 1.5 million residential and 90,000 business customers.

The Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a sizeable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Osama Bin Laden.

North Korea (DPRK) said it can conduct “any underwater operation with world-level strategic weapons capable of striking and wiping out in any waters hostile forces.”

Have the 4 years since the sovereign debt crisis led to nothing? German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) he can’t say Greece won’t default this time.

Chinese professors among 6 defendants charged with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions for benefit of People’s Republic of China.

No permission will be given to (the opposite party to the nuclear talks) for inspecting any of the military sites as well as for interviewing nuclear scientists and (scientists in) other sensitive disciplines,” said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“The problem with the Ukraine crisis emerged because Ukraine started a rapprochement with the EU in a situation where the EU categorically rejected our arguments about Ukraine’s obligations as part of the CIS,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The US Treasury Department has targeted an Iraqi airline, a Syrian businessman, and his Emirati company for providing support to a designated Iranian airline.

China and Colombia signed 12 agreements, including deals in infrastructure construction and more cooperation in industrial capacity. Bilateral trade has grown from $22 million in 1980 to $15.6 billion in 2014.

Structural and cyclical policies – including monetary policy – are heavily interdependent,” explained Mario Draghi, President of the ECB. “Potential growth is today estimated to be below 1% in the euro area and is projected to remain well below pre-crisis growth rates.”

China and Brazil issued a joint statement to further facilitate bilateral trade after talks between visiting Premier Li Keqiang and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

US online distribution group Amazon told the AFP that it will now pay taxes in every European country where it is active. Now one may wonder to what extent previous years helped the group to prevent real competition from emerging.

Podemos, the Spanish version of anti-austerity party Greece’s Syriza, has given the Conservatives of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy a tumble although it won in 11 out of 13 provinces. The left-wing coalition will now head cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

Our government cannot – and will notaccept a cure (austerity) that has proven itself over 5 long years to be worse than the disease,” wrote Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

China’s government will cut import taxes on consumer goods by more than 50% on average in a bid to boost consumer spending.

China and Chile signed a host of cooperation deals on May 25, 2015 including a multi-billion US dollar currency swap pact.

“The four installments for the IMF in June 2015 are $1.8 billion. This money will not be given and is not there to be given,” Greek Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told.

While undervaluation of the Renminbi (Yuan) was a major factor causing the large imbalances in the past, the IMF’s assessment now is that the substantial real effective appreciation over the past year has brought the exchange rate to a level that is no longer undervalued.

Gaza’s economy is on the verge of collapse as youth unemployment remains the highest in the region at 60 percent, said a World Bank report.

Income inequality has reached record highs in most OECD countries and remains at even higher levels in many emerging economies.

The 34 Member countries of the OECD decided to renew Secretary-General Angel Gurría’s mandate at the helm of the organization for the period 2016-2021.

2014 was in many ways another year of profound change at the IOR (Istituto per le Opere di Religione, Vatican Bank) with net profit in 2014 rebounding to €69.3 million from €2.9 million in 2013.

The Republican-led US Senate gave President Barack Obama a victory when it passed the Trade Promotion Authority bill, the so-called “fast-track” for the TPP.

According to a report by KKR, the BRICS have endured over the past 5 years some of the greatest absolute multiple compression as investors have become disillusioned with – among other things – excessive government intervention, declining returns, weakening currencies, and unorthodox monetary policy.

“The economy is (complicated) by both internal and external factors. At the same time, (…) a change in the ruble exchange rate enhances the competitiveness of Russian goods in terms of pricing, thereby opening up an opportunity to take over new niches both nationally and internationally,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The IRS announced that criminals used taxpayer-specific data acquired from non-IRS sources to gain unauthorized access to information on approximately 100,000 tax accounts. This data included Social Security information, date of birth and street address.

Despite uninterrupted economic growth for 25 years and no recession following the financial crisis, Poland has voted for change by electing conservative candidate 43-year-old Andrzej Duda as its next president.

According to Iranian official sources, Japan’s Ambassador to Tehran Koji Haneda told Iran’s media that Japanese companies are currently studying the potentials to make investments in Sistan and Baluchestan.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu tweeted that “as horrific as ISIS is, once Iran, the preeminent terrorist state today, acquires nukes, it’ll be a 1000 times more dangerous than ISIS.”

From a period of low growth, high inflation and shrinking production, the Narendra Modi’s government has not only strengthened India’s macro-economic fundamentals, boasted an official communiqué, but has also propelled the economy to a higher growth trajectory. India’s GDP growth rocketed to 7.4%, which is the fastest among all the large economies of the world.

“(We want) the challenges of (the Arctic) economic development and social cohesion (to be) addressed in a creative, sensitive, responsible way,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said as the US took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

War against ISISis not classic warfare, and this is not guerrilla warfare,” Iraqi President Fuad Masum said in an interview with VOA. “This is a new war, one that relies on roadside bombs, booby-trapped houses, and explosive-filled bulldozers to attack. Iraq needs time to be able to fight this type of war,” he explained.

According to Cyceon, the likelihood of a definitive agreement between Iran and the P5+1 is lower than what it was just after the Lausanne “historic agreement”, because the Obama administration has much difficulty to convince Israel and its Arab allies on the one hand, and Iran’s hardline conservatives demand “fair and positive US involvement” in the Middle East.

Besides, Wendy Sherman, the lead US negotiator in the Iran nuclear talks and the third highest official at the US State Department as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, will be leaving her post when the talks end.