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Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by thetrader.


Nothing new in these videos, but as always, it is good reviewing what risk is about. A few videos with the master of Black Swans and Risk, Nassim Taleb. Videos click here

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, challenged Europe’s leaders to prepare a 10-year vision for the euro and put growth at the centre of eurozone policies, a tacit criticism of efforts so far by the EU to create a fiscal union to accompany their single currency. Urging a revival of efforts in the 1990s, when he was head of the Italian treasury and the foundations were laid for the launch of Europe’s monetary union in 1999, Mr Draghi’s call hinted at ECB frustration over the loss of political momentum behind Europe’s economic integration.

Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 assault on the US, spent his final years fretting about how to keep his global terror network alive, planning big attacks and obsessing over minute bureaucratic details, scrutinising the resumés of candidates seeking promotion within al-Qaeda. In a letter from 2010 from his Pakistan hideout one of 17 missives released on Thursday by a privately funded institution within the West Point military school bin Laden demands to see the “detailed and lengthy” resumé of Anwar al-’Awlaki.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s hopes of re-election suffered a further knock when the leader of France’s centrist party shifted his support to the Socialist challenger already buoyed by a strong performance in the campaign’s only head-to-head television debate. François Bayrou, a former centre-right minister who came fifth in the first round of the presidential election with 9.1 per cent of the vote, announced on Thursday evening that he would vote for François Hollande, the Socialist frontrunner. He said Mr Sarkozy had become “obsessed” with immigration.

Labour on Thursday night took control of big cities such as Birmingham, Southampton and Derby with the party on track to win back hundreds of seats across England and Wales in local elections. The opposition also took smaller urban centres like Cambridge, Exeter and Plymouth outside their traditional heartlands. However, fears remained among senior Labour figures that the night would be tarnished by Ken Livingstone’s expected failure to unseat Boris Johnson as mayor of London.

Facebook expects to hit a valuation of as much as $95.9bn when it debuts on Wall Street this month, the social networking company said, as it moved into the final stages of the most hotly  anticipated share sale since Google’s initial public offering eight years ago. The company also put an unusually wide price range on its shares, with a value of only $86bn at the midpoint. That is well below the $100bn widely anticipated in the markets and left some investors and analysts questioning whether Facebook’s IPO will live up to the high hopes aroused in the build-up.

The big dilemma for smokers is normally over health or habit: whether to give up is the key question rather than which brand of cigarette. But if the Indian government has its way, those who prefer foreign brands like Marlboro and Benson & Hedges may no longer have that choice. According to the Economic Times, two years after the government banned foreign direct investment in cigarette manufacturing, Delhi is considering curbing imports, though it won’t likely concede to the full ban that the Consortium of Indian Farmers has demanded, for fear of violating WTO obligations.
Asian stock markets were mostly lower Friday in cautious trade ahead of the U.S. payrolls data later in the global day, with property counters capping Chinese bourses as a major developer Thursday reported falling sales. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6%, South Korea’s Kospi Composite declined 0.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.7%, China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.1% and India’s Sensex slipped 0.4%.

Greece’s election on Sunday is expected to usher in such political instability that officials from the country’s major parties are planning another possible election within months. That, in turn, could threaten the viability of Greece’s latest bailout package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and aggravate the euro zone’s financial woes. A nation eager to punish its political establishment for Greece’s financial and economic meltdown is set to give the country’s two major established parties a drubbing this weekend. Even before the first vote is cast, senior officials from both parties say privately that any new coalition government between the conservative New Democracy and the center-left Socialists, known as Pasok , could be short-livedand that more elections will be needed soon.  Many of these party officials expect elections by the fall. Some, especially in New Democracy, say fresh elections could happen as early as June.

Two consecutive quarters of a contracting U.K. economy has rekindled hopes that the Bank of England will turn the stimulus taps back on. Fading hopes of more so-called quantitative easing have been key to the recent poor showing of U.K. government bonds, or gilts, relative to German debt. But if investors expect U.K. bonds to make up lost ground should the BOE return to QE, they may be disappointed. Few analysts see further easing in the cards this month, despite the increasingly gloomy economic picture, even if they believe more stimulus is likely later in the year. Members of the BOE’s rate-setting body, the Monetary Policy Committee, poured cold water on hopes of further bond buying at their meeting in early April, when a larger-than-expected majority voted not to extend quantitative easing. And they may be reluctant to change their minds so soon.

State elections in Germany this month will be an early test of whether Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition can survive in office beyond 2013. The hopes of her coalition’s junior partner, the Free Democrats, to stay in the national parliament after next year’s general election depend largely on whether a 33-year-old state party leader can spark a comeback by helping the FDP win seats in a regional election on May 13. The FDP, which supports free markets and low taxes, has traditionally been a kingmaker in German politics. The party scored a strong 15% of the vote in the last national election in 2009, making a center-right coalition government led by Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats possible.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is preparing to roll out a bond-trading platform on which it will charge lower fees than on typical bond trades, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could help retain customers tempted by rival trading venues being set up by BlackRock Inc. and others. The New York securities firm has been developing an electronic platform called GSessions over the past year, according to a person familiar with its plans. The idea is to bring together clients who want to buy or sell specific corporate bonds at certain times, a process known as “crossing
Home-sales activity in major Chinese cities surged over the extended holiday weekend, beating expectations as property developers offered discounts to attract buyers, and signalling what some experts saw as big turnaround in Chinese real estate. The number of home sales jumped 46% during in the last two days of April, compared to a similar two-day period a year earlier that marked part of the May Day holiday weekend, according to Citigroup Global Markets, which compiled the data on 11 major mainland Chinese cities, excluding Beijing.

The U.S. likely added more jobs in April than it did in March, economists say, but the pace of hiring is too slow to make a big dent in the nation’s high unemployment rate. The economy gained 163,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained flat at 8.2%, according to analysts polled by MarketWatch. Hiring tailed off sharply in March, based on the government’s preliminary estimate released one month ago. The U.S. added just 120,000 jobs in March vs. a monthly average of 246,000 during the December-to-February period. Most economists believe one of the warmest winters on record boosted employment at the start of 2012. Companies that normally lay off some workers during the colder months, such as construction firms, kept them on payrolls. And other companies hired earlier than they usually do in a new year.

Average interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages hit record lows in the most recent Freddie Mac survey of conforming rates, released on Thursday. Rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84% for the week ending May 3, down from 3.88% last week and 4.71% a year ago. Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.07%, down from 3.12% last week and 3.89% a year ago.  Meanwhile, rates on 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.85%, unchanged from last week and down from 3.47% a year ago. And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs also hit a record low at 2.7%, down from 2.74% last week and 3.14% a year ago.
The Reserve Bank of Australia cut growth and inflation forecasts as weak job and housing markets keep price gains in check, and as the local currency slid toward its biggest weekly drop of the year. “Labor market conditions have continued to be on the soft side to date, with large increases in employment in mining and some service industries roughly offset by declines in the manufacturing, hospitality and retail sectors,” the central bank said today in its quarterly monetary policy statement. “A recovery in housing construction is unlikely in the near term.”

India’s quest for natural resources to power its growing economy and compete with China has met the enemy: Its own red tape. Thwarted by lengthy bureaucratic delays for approvals, Indian state companies have lost out on or walked away from at least seven purchases of overseas coal and mining assets in the last two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. They have completed just a single overseas deal between them in that time
Oil supply will be more than sufficient to meet demand this year and beyond, OPEC‘s Secretary General said on Thursday, but added the price of fuel is being driven higher by speculation. “There has been no shortage of oil in the market. Producers have been able to meet consumer needs,” Abdullah al-Badri told an energy conference. “We also see this as being the case for the rest of 2012 and the foreseeable future.” Oil prices surged in March to $128 a barrel, the highest level since 2008, because of concern about possible supply shortages. Prices have since fallen back and brent crude was trading around $118 on Thursday.
Risto Siilasmaa, the chairman of embattled mobile giant Nokia, has told exasperated shareholders that the company does not require more change – it just needs to be “Finnish to its core”.  Mr Siilasmaa, a software entrepreneur, who took the helm at Nokia’s annual meeting in Helsinki on Thursday, said the company’s fall from grace had been hard to deal with “as Finns”, but that it was already on course for a turnaround. “It’s no secret that Nokia is going through a very difficult period. It’s difficult for us as shareholders, it’s difficult for employees and as Finns, but I’m certain we have the right team, the right strategy and increasingly the right products to emerge as a successful company,” he said. “I don’t think any new change is required as we are going through a transformation period already.”

Royal Bank of Scotland will on Friday confirm it has all but repaid the £163bn in emergency loans it received from British and US taxpayers during the financial crisis. The part-nationalised lender, which is 82pc state-owned following a £45bn taxpayer bailout, will complete the loan repayments next week.  An announcement will be made during the company’s first-quarter update on Friday, where RBS’ pre-tax losses are expected to fall below £50m. The figure will compare favourably with the £106m loss it made during the first quarter of 2011. RBS received £75bn from the Treasury’s credit guarantee scheme and the Bank of England’s special liquidity scheme. It was also handed £36.6bn in emergency liquidity assistance from the Bank and about $84.5bn (£52.2bn) from the US Federal Reserve.
The UK economy is set for virtual stagnation in 2012 after four years of “unprecedented” weakness, a leading forecaster has warned. The report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) came amid signs of slowing momentum from services firms, which account for more than three-quarters of the economy. NIESR is braced for “close to zero” growth, another jump in unemployment to 9 per cent almost 3 million and far higher than expected borrowing. The forecaster is pencilling in public borrowing of £120.6bn next year.
Global food prices measured by the Food Price Index fell three points, or 1.4 percent, from March to April, but still at a relatively high level of 214 points, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Thursday. The fall was the first after three consecutive months of increases and although the index is significantly down from its record level of 235 points in April 2011, it is still well above the figures of under 200 which preceded the 2008 food crisis, said the Rome-based UN agency. The index published in the latest FAO Food Outlook noted that the prospects for the second half of this year and into the next indicate generally improved supplies and continuing strong demand.

Hong Kong’s total retail sales value in March was provisionally estimated at 36.6 billion HK dollars (about 4.72 billion U.S. dollars), increasing 17.3 percent over a year earlier, the city’s Census and Statistics Department announced here Thursday. After netting out the effect of price changes over the period, the volume of total retail sales increased 13.4 percent in March compared with a year earlier, the department said. The relevant components of the Consumer Price Index are used as deflators. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in February increased 15.6 percent year on year to 33.8 billion HK dollars, while the volume of total retail sales increased 10.1 percent.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Latin America reached a record of 153.45 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, representing 10 percent of the total global flows, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said Thursday. The figure was well above the previous record of 137.001 billion dollars registered in 2008, the commission said. In 2010, the region received 120.88 billion dollars, while in 2009 the international economic crisis caused a drop in investment to 81.589 billion dollars, according to the ECLAC. Brazil was on the lead, receiving 66.66 billion dollars, amounting to a whopping 43.8 percent of the total, the commission said in its 2011 report.
The expansion of China’s non-manufacturing sector slowed in April as demand from the construction and service industries moderated, statistics released on Thursday showed. The Purchasing Managers’ Index in the non-manufacturing sector, an indication of operating conditions, declined to 56.1 last month from 58 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a release.  “China’s non-manufacturing economy maintained steady growth in April,” Cai Jin, deputy chairman of the CFLP, said in a statement.  An expected increase in investment and consumption was likely to accelerate the expansion of non-manufacturing activity this month, Cai said.
About 60 per cent of India’s rural population lives on less than Rs 35 a day and nearly as many in cities live on Rs 66 a day, reveals a government survey on income and expenditure.
“In terms of average per capita daily expenditure, it comes out to be about Rs 35 in rural and Rs 66 in urban India. About 60 per cent of the population live with these expenditures or less in rural and urban areas,” said Director General of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) J Dash in his preface to the report. According to the 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010, all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was Rs 1,054 and urban areas Rs 1,984.
South Korea’s exports to China are expected to grow faster starting in May, as Chinese manufacturers have stepped up their production, a report said Friday. “The gradual improvement of the Chinese economy and a recovery in demand among domestic manufacturers will lead to a better environment for South Korean exporters,” said Yu Sin-ik, an economist for HMC Investment Securities Co. He explained that China’s manufacturing sentiment for April rose slightly despite global economic uncertainty, indicating the Chinese makers of processed goods will likely continue to increase their restocking.
Growing confidence in African economies has more than doubled foreign direct investment into the continent over the last decade, said a survey released Thursday. “Growing optimism and confidence among international and African investors has led to significant inward investment into Africa over the last decade,” according accounting firm Ernst & Young. Investment from across the world surged from 339 projects in 2003 to 857 in 2011. Growth in intra-African investment was being led by the regional powerhouses of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

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