1.G8 countries – of the 8 nations (actually reduced to G7 as Western sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine have been extended for another six months) only Canada and Germany continue with a triple A rating from all the three leading U.S. credit rating agencies, since Moody’s and Fitch downgraded Britain to Aa1, downgrading Standard & Poor’s Britain after its vote to exit the EU by two notches from AAA, cutting Moody’s and Fitch France credit rating to Aa1 and Standard & Poor’s further to AA, lowering Standard & Poor’s credit rating of the United States 1 notch to Aa1.
2.Currency composition of official foreign exchange reserves – 2014: Dollar 62,3%, €uro 22,6% (declining), Pstg 4%, Yen 3,9%, CHF 0,1%. Other currencies like the Australian, the Canadian and the New Zealand Dollar increased their participation. BIS sees Dollar reserve role as secure but set to shrink, from 65% and 70% to 50% and 60%.
3.SSFI program was established to provide stability and prevent disruptions to financial markets from the failure of institutions that are critical to the functioning of the U.S. financial system. The only participating institution getting money through this program was American International Group/AIG keeping it from collapsing, calling the Treasury later the program ‘AIG Investment Program’. The G20 group created the Financial Stability Board/FSB in an ambitious effort to strengthen international prudential standards in response to the financial crisis. The full range of its resolution powers specified in the Key Attributes are available to resolution authorities with responsability for the resolutions of banks that could be systemically significant or critical in the event of failure: Crisis Management Group/CMG, Institution-Specific Cross-Border Cooperation Agreements/COAGs, Recovery and Resolution Plans/RRPs. Meanwhile Europe is launching the ECB as banking supervisor for the Euro-zone, planning a rigorous asset review exercise, which is likely to put pressure on national supervisors outside the banking union countries to be equally, shaping EBA’s ongoing work of monitoring risk weights and any action it takes. Additionally and complying with Basel III big European and U.S. banks will be placed under stricter capital requirements. G20/FSB developed a policy framework and critical policy measures to address the systematic and moral hazard risks associated with systematic important financial institutions/SIFIs, targeting full implementation for 2019.
4.G8 – group of eight leading industrialized nations, representing around 15% of the world population and two-third of the global output, holding Russia the every 12 months rotating presidency this year, replacing Britain January 01, 2014, announcing to host the G8 summit 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, set for June 4th-5th, after holding the Winter Olympics there. As Ukraine crisis deepens Western countries decided not to attend a preparation meeting for the planned G8 summit in Sochi, announcing EU members of the G8 group to pull out of all preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi, threatening President Obama to ‘isolate Russia’, kicking the country out of the G8 group of leading economies, but opposing Berlin that. The Group of seven leading industrialized nations/G7 is considering meeting in the near future, a move that would exclude Russia, which joined what became the G8 in 1998, saying G7 in a statement that referendum on Crimea’s future is a violation of international law, declaring Crimea independence from Ukraine after official referendum results showed 96,77 of Crimean voted to join Russia, signing President Putin Crimea annexation treaty, calling Crimea an ‘integral’ part of Russia, defying U.S. and EU sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans on officials from Russia and Ukraine, warning Ukraine that conflict with Russia has entered into a ‘military stage’, reaching relations between Russia and the West their lowest point since the end of the ‘Cold War’, planning Ukraine under pressure from Russian troops and local forces to abandon Crimean bases. Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on nine U.S. officials and lawmakers, signing Putin final Crimea reunification treaty, while Ukraine signed an association agreement with the EU. G7 nations announced that the summit meeting planned for Sochi will now be held in Brussels, without Russia, suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course, saying G7 energy ministers will also meet to discuss ways to bolster the countries’ collective energy security, considering the great dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies in nations like Germany and Italy, getting EU about a third of its natural gas supplies from Russia. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly affirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and deemed the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation illegal, announcing the IMF bailout program for Ukraine unlocking amounts to $27 Billion over the next two years. President Putin called President Obama to discuss U.S. proposal for a diplomatic solution to Crimea crisis, urging Obama to withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian border, saying Russia it has no intention to invade eastern Ukraine, warning European leaders of gas supply cuts over Ukraine’s $2,2 Billion gas debt, accusing the U.S. that Moscow is using energy as ‘tool of coercion’. G7 powers used the first meeting without Russia in 17 years to warn Moscow of further hard-hitting sanctions, demanding that Putin must recognize and negotiate with the new Poroshenko Government in Kiev, stop the flow of weapons from Russia into Ukraine and induce the rebels to lay down their arms. Ukraine signed a historic association agreement with EU, after Georgia and Moldova ratified similar deals, alarming Moscow concerned about losing its influence over former Soviet republics.
4a)Significance of suspending G7 nations their participation in the G8 until Russia changes course: Russia, now the sole remaining member of the G8, considers the group of eight/G8 ‘as an informal club’, saying its mission is over because all the economic and financial problems are now discussed in the group of twenty/G20, retaining Russia its membership. Most European countries remain too fragile to cut off important investment and trade sources, warning, like big EU companies, of imposing stricter trade and financial sanctions on Russia. So far the EU, concerned of Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas supply, has imposed limited sanctions on Moscow, including travel bans and asset freezes. German Chancellor Merkel, worried that economic sanctions against Russia would negatively affect Germany’s economy, said the Ukraine crisis should be resolved by political means without imposing economic sanctions on Russia. The United States and EU sanctions are especially designed to hurt President Putin’s inner circle, having of course also negative effects on Russia’s weak economy, but continued Western diplomatic pressure and already agreed sanctions may convince Moscow to ease its grip on Ukraine, allowing finally a peaceful settlement with pro-Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine, not ending Putin’s outright annexation of the strategic Black Sea Peninsula Crimea, he considers historically important as part of Russia.
4b)The next G7-summit will take place in Germany June 7 and 8, 2015, and German Chancellor Merkel considers that actually President Putin’s participation seems to be unlikely. EU ratified a new round of asset freezes and travel bans against 19 Ukrainian separatist and Russians, which will come into effect February 16, 2015, regardless of the latest ceasefire deal of Minsk, signed by pro-Russian rebels, and starting at 00:01 local time on February 15, 2015. The truce will be monitored by the OSCE, warning European leaders that Russia faces additional sanctions if the Minsk peace agreement is not respected, saying Ukrainian President Poroshenko there is ‘a long way to go to peace’. France’s President disclosed that EU sanctions against Russia could be loosened step-by-step in exchange for compliance with the Minsk peace agreement. German Chancellor Merkel said that there would be not any Group of 8 meetings with Russia as long as it fails to comply with basic common values of democracy and states based on rules of law. Hours after Germany’s Foreign Minister suggested Russia could be readmitted to the G8, a senior Russian official appeared to rebuff the notion, saying Moscow would rather work with emerging economies than the rich nation’s club, from which it was suspended following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. G7 leaders agreed to keep sanctions against Russia in Place until PM Putin and Moscow-backed separatists fully respect a ceasefire negotiated in Minsk in February 2015, warning they could escalate sanctions if needed, claiming Russia also Kiev must still fully implement the peace deal. Russia’s PM Medvedev said his country is in a new Cold War with the U.S. and its allies, even as Russia, Europe and the U.S. are suggesting to seek cooperation to end Syria’s civil war, resolve the armed stand-off in eastern Ukraine and make progress toward lifting European economic sanctions against Russia. The G7 summit 2016 in Japan without China and Russia on board left the question open if such a reduced G7 can tackle today’s problems, although some observers defended that like-minded countries are better able to prepare for decisive meetings, such as G20 summit 2016 in China of leading and developing countries, agreeing a common line. German Economy Minister Gabriel urged in June 2016 to quickly allow Russia to rejoin the G7 and turn it back into G8, saying: ‘Russia is an important global player and not a regional power’.
5.ICBC, the world’s biggest bank with a Tier 1 capital of $160.646 Billion per mid-2013, reached an agreement with Standard Bank Group Limited, UK, regarding the sale and purchase of shares in Standard Bank Plc, the largest African Bank, acquiring 60% of existing shares in SB Plc for around $770 Million, having a call option to increase its shareholding to 80% in the future and a put option to buy all of the shares of SB Plc.
6.Germany will hold G7/G8 Group’s presidency 2015, planning and hosting the summit 2015, followed by Japan in 2016.
7.Fannie Mae – financial sanctions: The Federal Housing Finance Agency filed in 2011 claims against 18 major financial institutions relating to U.S. residential mortgage-backed securities offerings between 2004 and 2007, remaining settlement of 7 suits against various institutions pending, after the latest $9,33 Billion agreement with Bank of America covering $57,5 Billion of private-label residential mortgage-backed securities bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
8.BASEL III banking standards – to make financial markets more secure BASEL III is rising global minimum capital standards or levels of minimum common equity to risk weighted assets to 7% and for systemically important banks to 9,5%, complaining especially JP Morgan Chase that rules are not in ‘America’s interest’ and that the U.S. should not submit any more to BASEL rules. The Fed approved final U.S. rules implementing BASEL III capital frame work in July 2013, making the U.S. version of BASEL III due to an enhanced supplementary leverage ratio for covered bank holding companies and their insured depositary institution much stricter for larger U.S. banks than their European competitors and could present a disadvantage for U.S. banks, as U.S. regulators are lobbied to reduce the U.S. requirements. You find more BASEL III comments in: http://1read.me
8a)JP Morgan Chase – living will – for the 8 biggest U.S.banks capital ratio – Tier 1 capital (predominant common shares and retained earnings, perhaps some equity, like nonredeemable preferred shares) will have to be 9,5% to risk-adjusted assets, and new rules could raise the minimum capital ratio for the biggest banks from 9,5% to 11,5%, proposing the Fed regulations against banks that are still thought to be too big to fail in favor of smaller less complex banks. JP Morgan seems to be already at 9,8%. The leverage ratio, seen by the Fed as a crititical backstop to the risk-based capital requirements for banks that rely on risky short-term funding, assets to Tier 1 capital on a bank’s balance sheet (including also off-balance sheet exposures), maintaining a minimum of 5%, while FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to maintain a minimum of 6%, and by 2018 banks must rely more on funding sources such as shareholder equity rather than borrowing money. JP Morgan is predicted to have a shortfall under the new standards of $15,6 Billion. But most banks are already on track to comply and could meet requirements by retaining earnings or could shrink or restructure some assets to reduce capital needs. FDIC insurance covers eligible savings of up to $250.000 per depositor, per insured bank for each account ownership category. Letting banks issue against uninsured deposits over the $250.000 limit so-called contingent capital bonds, bonds that a point of a crisis would be automatically transformed into riskier share equity, would mean to transform creditors into owners of a bank.
9.UK Financial Investment Ltd. (UKFI) – manages the British Government’s investments in the Royal Bank of Scotland/RBS, Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds) and UK Asset Resolution Ltd. (UKAR), acting on behalf on HM Treasury, its sole shareholder.
10.Algeria -FDI above US$ 2 Billion each year since 2012, mainly in the hydrocarbon sector, as the country’s economy is heavily dependent on the petroleum industry. (Algeria: 15th place in terms of proven oil reserves in the world and 10th place in the world of proven gas reserves). Observers are reporting many corruption scandals involving foreign companies, although they consider the climate for international firms considering direct investments is stabilizing.
11.Chase Bank open Sunday in New York, Downtown, Flushing Main St. 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, San Francisco, Union Square, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, other branches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago may also be attending on Sunday, in Miami Chase branches seem to be closed on Sunday.
12.Founders Federal Credit Union, Lancaster, South Carolina, SC 29720 – like all U.S. Federal Credit Unions it is a not-for-profit institution owned by its members, committed to serve its members financial needs, governed by a board of volunteers. The National Credit Union Administration/NCUA, an independent U.S. Government Agency, regulates, charters and insures the Nation’s Federal Credit Unions, which have to demonstrate high standards of safety and soundness in its operations.
13.U.S. bank political appointment – President Obama nominated Allan Landon, a former community banker and Chief Executive of the Bank of Hawai, actually partner of private investment fund Community BanCapital, to a seat on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Board, responding calls for a greater voice for Main Street in the central bank’s deliberations, concerned that Wall Street holds too much sway.
14.G7 thinking of punishing further Russia../go to 4b).
15.Founders Federal Credit Union/go to 12.
16.Chase Bank, release levy/go to smallbusiness.chron.com/remove-bank-levy-4059.html and to smallbusiness.chron.com/dispute-bank-levy-37255.html
17.Banco Santander, the Euro-zone’s biggest bank, targeting lending push after 4thQ. 2014 profit jump, facing its U.S. unit setbacks in its U.S. operations, remaining under pressure from regulators, after a former Banco Santander SA executive has been indicted for insider trading.
18.HSBC Japan Index Fund Accumulation C. is a fund launched in 1989 with a size of Pound Sterling 279 Million, available in a regular savings plan by investing just Pound Sterling 25 per month, deducting charges from income, investing the fund in companies that make up the FTSE Japan Index providing long-term capital growth.
19.Credit Repair Organizations offering help to boost your credit score and clean up your credit report, working under the ‘Credit Repair Organization Act’, a title of the ‘Consumer Protection Act’; there are many credit repair companies and there are lots of scams. Select a company with a good reputation and money-back guarantee, like SkyBlue Credit Repair, Lexington Law, Credit Repair.com, related with TransUnion.
20.Fed’s QE ended completely October 2014, remaining pending rate hike, which likely happens in the second half of this year. Go to 1read.me/U.S./EU/Euro-zone Economies: United States of America, where you will find more explanations.
21.The NFIP was launched in 1968 and Congress passed a number of laws to strengthen the program. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Water Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, making additional program changes to other aspects of the NFIP.
22.BRIC currency reserve pool $100 Billion – go to 1read.me/BRICS – Countries.
23.Countrywide Financial – has been purchased by BofA – go to U.S.Banks, 1read.me
24.Countrywide mortgage assistance – homeloanhelp.bankofamerica.com – home loan assistance – check my loan status.
25.Lloyds TSB – UK Government’s privatization plan delayed as shares in the bailed-out bank are trading below the Government’s break-even price, falling below 69p, ordering to sell the share whenever the price is above 73.6p, the level at which the state bailed out Lloyds in 2008; small investors may be granted a discount of 5p. In the wake of the ‘Brexit’ vote Britain’s Government has scrapped plans to sell stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds in 2016, leaving disposal plans until 2017 at the earliest.
25.a)Lloyds share savings plan maturing June 2016 – oil price declines, oil-related default fears, growth concerns and a general aversion to lower-quality bonds have combined to produce high-yield bond price declines, putting pressure on the banking sector; still ECB considers European banks far more solid than a few years ago as they have significantly strengthened their capital positions; Lloyds is attempting to streamline its business as it prepares to return fully to the private sector; the British Government has reduced its stake from more than 40% to less than 10%, with a deadline of June 2016 being set to complete the task of offloading the taxpayer’s interest; that selloff is now officially on hold and postponed until markets have calmed, as shares fell as low as 60p. and even after rising to 62.4p. the stock remains well below the Government’s bailout breakeven price of 73.6p.; full year result of the bank is due in March 2016, eventually including an additional allocation for compensation claims relating to payment protection insurance mis-selling by another 2 Billion pounds, putting in doubt hopes for a special dividend payout; however an expected positive result of Lloyds, half way through a bigger plan to close 200 branches and cut 9.000 jobs to reduce costs and take more of the business online, could put Government’s sales plans back on track; stock markets likely remain volatile in 2016, following the economy, continuing China as the epicentre of current market instability.
26.BlackBerry’s transformation into a cross-platform, security-focused software and services company advanced, reporting for the third quarter ended November 28, 2015 total revenue of $557 Million, up 14% over the previous quarter, growing the software and services revenue 183% year-over-year and 119% quarter over quarter.
27.Bank of America Merrill Lynch – one of the five largest investment banks in the U.K. paying no corporation tax at all in 2014, despite booking billions of pounds in profits, by using tax breaks and offsetting previous losses against any gains. The bank has about $8 Billion in tax assets to use against tax following the $34 Billion of losses it incurred in the U.K. in 2007 and 2008. However tax regime is changing fast and being forced to adopt to a more fit-for-purpose model, forcing foreign companies to pay more tax. BofA will post a $600 Million pretax write-down in the 4thQ. 2015 as it redeems $2 Billion of trust preferred securities, paying holders 7% to 7,28%, tied to its 2009 acquisition of Merrill Lynch, expecting to realize cash savings from lower funding costs as a results of the redemption.
28.EMU Direct Governments – predominantly in Euro denominated sovereign bonds with a maturity of up to 10 years of the European Economic and Monetary Union/EMU countries, comprising actually 16 nations of the Euro-area; representative indices available measuring the performance of Euro-denominated Government debt of EMU nations: CITI EMU Government Bond Index/EGBI 1-3 years, Schroder International Selection Fund, SISF Euro Government Bond, Bank of America Merrill Lynch EMU Direct Government Index.