Italian 5- and 10- year debt yields fall to record low

“Italy saw borrowing costs fall to the lowest levels on record at an auction of five-and-ten-year government bonds on Wednesday, as investors continued to gauge the health of the euro zone’s third-largest economy.  Italy’s Treasury sold €2.5 billion worth of ten-year debt at an average yield of 2.6%, down from 2.81% at a similar auction last month.  Rome also sold €3 billion of five-year debt at an average yield of 1.2%, compared to a yield of 1.35% in June.”

Italian economy minister delays goal of repaying state’s commercial debts

“The Italian state owes some 75 billion euros to private suppliers. The unpaid bills have starved companies of cash and triggered layoffs, factory closures and bankruptcies.  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised in March to pay back all the debt arrears by July. Within a week he put back the target date to September.  The government is finding it hard to tackle the problem because of public finance constraints, inefficiency, uncertainty over exactly how much is owed and a reluctance on the part of some public bodies to acknowledge their debts.  Italy is aiming to raise 8-10 billion euros from privatizations over the next two years to help cut its public debt.”

Bank of America to Pay $17 Billion in Justice Department Settlement

Bank of America Corp. is set to pay a record settlement of nearly $17 billion over its mortgage lending as early as Thursday, capping a legal odyssey that has dogged it since the depths of the financial crisis.  More than $1 billion of the payout from the Charlotte, N.C., bank could go to a handful of states, according to a person familiar with the deal.  The settlement amount is the largest ever reached between the U.S. and a single company, and is approximately equal to the bank’s total profit for the past three years. Bank of America has spent more than $60 billion on legal woes stemming from the financial crisis, and the latest settlement would push the tab to close to $80 billion.”

Russia diverts pension savings to plug budget hole for second year

“All obligatory pension contributions would be directed to finance the redistributive state pension system in 2015, including funds originally earmarked for private management. Russia imposed a freeze on defined pension contributions to private fund managers in 2014, diverting around 243 billion roubles ($7 billion) into state coffers.  Earlier on Tuesday Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper said President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had already agreed to extend that freeze, despite opposition from the Ministry of Finance and other economic policymakers.  The extension into 2015 would provide around 300 billion roubles for the budget next year.”

Tanzania Readies Rules to Open Stock Market to Foreigners

“Tanzania is studying proposals by the country’s stock market regulator to scrap limits on foreignshare ownership, providing a further spur to Africa’s best-performing equities gauge.  Plans by the Capital Markets and Securities Authority to change rules that cap foreign holdings of listed companies to 60 percent are with Tanzania’s Finance Ministry for approval. The amendments are expected to be implemented by the end of this year, he said.  The 11-member Tanzania Share Index gained 50 percent in 2014, the most among 17 African gauges tracked by Bloomberg, with Tanzania Breweries Ltd., National Microfinance Bank Ltd., and Tanzania Cigarette Co. leading the advance.”

Congress slams Fed’s permanent crisis lending proposal


“A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday urged the Federal Reserve to restrict its crisis lending programs for big banks.  Congress approved billions of dollars in 2008 to stabilize banks. In addition, the Fed launched its own programs, such as an overnight loan facility for primary dealers.  In all, the Fed provided more than $13 trillion to banks that relied on emergency lending programs for an average of 22 months, the letter said. ‘These loans were another bailout in all but name,’ the lawmakers said.  The group criticized rules the Fed proposed in December 2013 to implement the Dodd-Frank requirement that emergency programs provide liquidity to the entire financial system, not failing banks.”,0,2845782.story

Venezuela’s gold reserves fall 24% in 18 months

“Venezuela is the Latin American country with the highest exposure to gold prices, as gold bars represent 71% of the country’s reserves.  The high share of gold in the Venezuelan reserves is not the result of an increase in the amount of gold bars; they remain at 11.8 million troy ounces, just like in the first half of 2007, but they gained relevance because cash reserves in US dollars plummeted to minimal levels.  Over the last eight years, the BCV has transferred USD 47 billion to the National Development Fund (Fonden). This fund is the mechanism government uses to cover expenditures and investments. The operation reduced the amount of cash reserves to less than USD 2 billion.”

Gas In Egypt Is 78 Percent More Expensive Now Than Last Week

“The anger stems from a controversial decision by the government of Egypt’s new president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to cut energy subsidies in order to address the country’s staggering deficit.  Egypt spends a quarter of its budget on a subsidy system that discounts basic necessities for its citizens. But three years of political turmoil has devastated the crucial tourism industry and scared off foreign investment.  The new price hikes on fuel — which came into effect over the weekend — are between 40 and 78 percent. The government is also raising electricity prices, with plans to end power subsidies in five years. Taxes on beer doubled and also increased on cigarettes.”

9 NYC Stores Fined for Propping Air-Conditioned Doors Open [2010]

“Nine stores in Manhattan and the Bronx have been hit with $200 fines for leaving their doors open on hot days in the hope that the escaping cool air will lure sweaty customers. They are the first fined as part of a new law passed in 2008.  Last year, only warnings were given out. Fines start at $200, and go up to $400 for any further infractions. The legislation states that any business larger than 4,000 square feet or part of a chain with five or more stores in the city must keep doors closed when using an air-conditioning system.  A digital thermometer read a refreshing 79 degrees 10 feet away from a Zara’s on 17th Street and Fifth Avenue, despite it being a muggy 97 degrees two blocks away.”

Egypt battles energy crunch with ban on too-cold air conditioners

“Egypt, grappling with an energy crunch, will enforce a ban on the production and import of air conditioners that can be set lower than 20oC, aiming to reassure citizens and industry hit with power cuts and fuel shortages.  The ban on air conditioners outside the government’s specification will contribute to ‘easing the burden on Egyptian families,’ the minister added.  Long lines at gas stations and power cuts fuelled popular anger against president Mohamed Morsi ahead of his ouster by the army last summer.  He said the government will make a bigger push to distribute smart cards for fuel to cut smuggling and black market selling of gasoline.”