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Article from Bloomberg.

China’s reduction in reserve requirements for banks, the first since 2008, may signal government concern that a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy is deepening.

Reserve ratios will decline by 50 basis points effective Dec. 5, the central bank said on its website yesterday. The move may add 350 billion yuan ($55 billion) to the financial system, according to UBS AG.

A report due today may show that China’s manufacturing contracted for the first time since February 2009, and the nation’s stocks had their biggest decline in almost four months yesterday. Premier Wen Jiabao aims to sustain the economic expansion as Europe’s debt crisis saps exports, a credit squeeze hits small businesses and a crackdown on real-estate speculation sends home sales sliding.

“The deceleration of growth may have become faster than expected on increased external uncertainty, a sagging property market” and difficulties for smaller companies, said Liu Li- gang, a Hong Kong-based economist with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. who previously worked for the World Bank. The manufacturing report may be “worse than expected,” Liu said.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index may dip to 49.8 for November, a level marking a contraction, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 18 economists. That data is due at 9 a.m. local time today. Consumer price gains eased to 5.5 percent in October, compared with a government target of 4 percent, as exports rose the least in almost two years.

Joint Action

The policy move yesterday came two hours before the U.S. Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the monetary authorities of the U.K., Canada, Japan and Switzerland said they were cutting the cost of emergency dollar funding to ease strains in financial markets.

Spurring lending in China, the nation that contributes most to global growth, may boost confidence as Europe’s crisis worsens. Stocks and the euro rallied after the moves.

China is at “the beginning of monetary easing,” said Qu Hongbin, a Hong Kong-based economist for HSBC Holdings Plc, adding that “aggressive” action is warranted. While more reserve-ratio cuts may follow, interest rates may remain unchanged until inflation is below 3 percent, he said.

The latest change means that reserve requirements for the biggest lenders will fall to 21 percent from a record 21.5 percent, based on past statements.

‘Liquidity Crunch’

Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. said that the timing of the Chinese announcement “could be linked” to the move by the Fed and others. In October 2008, China cut interest rates within minutes of reductions by the Fed and five other central banks as the global financial crisis worsened.

“Some form of coordination may have gone into this,” said Ken Peng, a Beijing-based economist at BNP Paribas SA. “But I think China is pretty urgently in need of a reserve ratio requirement cut anyway — otherwise, we’d have a liquidity crunch in the New Year.”

Barclays Capital yesterday forecast at least three more reserve ratio cuts by mid-2012 and said two interest-rate reductions are likely next year.

Yesterday’s move may have been partly a response to inflows of foreign-exchange drying up, according to UBS’s Hong Kong- based economist Wang Tao. Central bank data released this month suggested that capital has been flowing out of China.

Growth is slowing across Asia, the region that led the world recovery, with India today reporting its economy expanded the least in two years and Thailand cutting interest rates. In China, the clampdown on property speculation has added to the threat of a deeper slowdown after a 9.1 percent expansion in the third quarter that was the smallest in two years.

Home Sales

Property risks are “overshadowing” the outlook as falling sales threaten to trigger developer collapses, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this week. Agile Property Holdings Ltd. (3383), the developer in which JPMorgan Chase & Co. owns a stake, has said it will stop buying land until at least February and is slowing construction at some projects.

October housing transactions declined 25 percent from September and prices fell in 33 of 70 cities, according to government data. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.3 percent yesterday after Xia Bin, an academic adviser to the central bank, said credit should remain “relatively tight” and people shouldn’t hope for a reversal of housing market curbs.

China hasn’t raised interest rates since July, the longest pause since increases began in October last year. Benchmark one- year borrowing costs stand at 6.56 percent. The last interest- rate cut was in December 2008, during the global financial crisis.

Premier Wen Jiabao said last month the government will fine-tune economic policies as needed to sustain growth while pledging to maintain curbs on real estate.”

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Here is a article from Financial Times.

“Moody’s Investors Service fired off a warning on Wednesday that the triple A sovereign credit rating of the US would come under pressure unless economic growth was more robust than expected or tougher actions were taken to tackle the country’s budget deficit.

In a move that follows intensifying concern among investors over the US deficit, Moody’s said the country faced a trajectory of debt growth that was “clearly continuously upward”.

Steven Hess, senior credit officer at Moody’s, said the deficits projected in the budget outlook presented by the Obama administration outlook this week did not stabilise debt levels in relation to gross domestic product.

“Unless further measures are taken to reduce the budget deficit further or the economy rebounds more vigorously than expected, the federal financial picture as presented in the projections for the next decade will at some point put pressure on the triple A government bond rating,” the rating agency added in an issuer note.

This week, the White House forecast a $1,565bn budget deficit for 2010, which represents 10.6 per cent of gross domestic product and is the highest such ratio of debt to GDP since the second world war.

While the budget gap is forecast to fall to about 4 per cent by 2013, it is based in part on economic growth not falling below government expectations, Congress agreeing to tax rises and a spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending.

Crucially, projections of the overall debt-to-GDP ratio for the US are seen rising from 53 per cent in 2009 to 73 per cent in 2015 and 77 per cent by 2020.

Moody’s, however, says this understates the overall US debt level.”

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Here is an Bloomberg article we found noteworthy.

“Taxpayer losses from supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will top $400 billion, according to Peter Wallison, a former general counsel at the Treasury who is now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The situation is they are losing gobs of money, up to $400 billion in mortgages,” Wallison said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The Treasury Department recognized last week that losses will be more than $400 billion when it raised its limit on federal support for the two government-sponsored enterprises, he said.

The U.S. seized the two mortgage financiers in 2008 as the government struggled to prevent a meltdown of the financial system. The debt of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks grew an average of $184 billion annually from 1998 to 2008, helping fuel a bubble that drove home prices up by 107 percent between 2000 and mid-2006, according to the S&P/Case- Shiller home-price index.

The Treasury said on Dec. 24 it would provide an unlimited amount of assistance to the companies as needed for the next three years to alleviate market concern that the government lifeline for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest source of money for U.S. home loans, could lapse or be exhausted.

Lax regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the mortgage companies taking on too many risky loans, Wallison said.

“It turns out it was impossible to regulate them,” he said. “They were too powerful.” He said no one knows how much will be needed to keep the companies solvent.

From 1990 to 1999, Wallison served on the board of directors of MGIC Investment Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage insurer, including a stint on the audit committee, according to Bloomberg data and company filings.”

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Here is a good blog article from The Telegraph.

“Watch out. This may be just the beginning. In the scale of things, the debt problems of Dubai are little more than a flea bite. Dubai’s sovereign debts total “just” $80bn, which counts for nothing against the trillions being raised by advanced economies to plug fiscal deficits.

Small wonder, though, that this minor tremor has sent such shock waves around the wider capital markets. The fear is that threatened default in this tiny desert kingdom is just a harginger of things to come for government debt markets as a whole. According to new estimates by Moody’s, the credit rating agency, the total stock of sovereign debt worldwide will have risen by nearly 50 per cent between 2007 and 2010 to $15.3 trillion. The great bulk of this increase comes not from irrelevant little states like Dubai, but from the big advanced economies – America, Europe, and Japan.

Perversely, they are for the time being beneficiaries of the “flight to safety” that trouble in Dubai has sparked. Government bond yields in the major advanced economies have fallen in response to the crisis in the Gulf. If experience of the banking crisis, when investors removed their money from one bank only to find that the one they had put it into looked just as dodgy, is anything to go by, this effect will not last.”

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Here is a story from the Powerline Blog.

“I’ve assumed that the profligate spending and borrowing planned by the Democrats in Congress and the White House will run up a debt that we and our children just can’t pay, so, in the time-honored tradition of banana republics, the Obama administration or its successors will inflate our currency and repay its creditors (China, mostly) in devalued dollars. Thus, I’ve been buying gold. I’ve assumed that an actual default by the United States government is unthinkable.

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, however, disagrees. He writes: Why Default on U.S. Treasuries Is Likely. HIs thesis is that times have changed, and it isn’t so easy to inflate our way out of debt:

Many predict that…the government will inflate its way out of this future bind, using Federal Reserve monetary expansion to fill the shortfall between outlays and receipts. But I believe, in contrast, that it is far more likely that the United States will be driven to an outright default on Treasury securities, openly reneging on the interest due on its formal debt and probably repudiating part of the principal.

Hummel explains that most money is now created privately by banks and other institutions, not the government, so that “[o]nly in poor countries, such as Zimbabwe, with their primitive financial sectors, does inflation remain lucrative for governments.”

A steep tax increase won’t really work for the Obama administration either. ”

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Ponzi schemes have a way of ending unhappily.

Here is a article from Forbes.

“In the last few months the world economy has been saved from a near-depression. That feat has been achieved by a range of extraordinary government stimulus measures: In the U.S. and in China, and to a lesser extent in Europe, Japan and other countries, governments have pumped liquidity, slashed policy rates, cut taxes, primed demand and ring-fenced and back-stopped the financial system. All of this has worked, but at a cost. Governments have been spending and borrowing like never before. The question now is: how do they stop?

This is not a simple problem. Restore normality too soon and the risk is that a weak recovery will double dip into a second and deeper recession. Restore it too late and inflation will already be ingrained.

Consider how much has been committed and how much has been spent. In the U.S. alone, when you add up the government’s liquidity support measures, its re-capitalizations of banks, its guarantees of bad assets, its extension of deposit insurance and guarantees of unsecured bank debt, at least $12 trillion has been committed, and a quarter of that has already been spent. Along with the rise in spending there has also been a very large fiscal stimulus, pushing the federal budget deficit to 13% of gross domestic product this year. (Next year, on current plans, the deficit will fall back but still amount to 10% of GDP.)

Not all the measures adopted appear on the budgetary bottom line. As well as monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, the U.S. and other governments have resorted to unconventional measures to ease monetary conditions. In the U.S., Japan and the U.K., real interest rates have been pushed down to zero, and governments have resorted to buying long-dated securities, the goal of which–only partially achieved–was to hold down long-term interest rates.”

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Here is an excellent article from Chris Martensson.

“And now it turns out that 47% (!) of the bonds that were taken by the primary dealers in that auction have been quietly bought by the Fed and permanently secreted to its balance sheet.

They didn’t even wait a full week!  A more honest and open approach would have been for the Fed to simply buy them outright at the auction but this way, using “primary dealers” and “POMOs” and all these other extra steps the basic fact that the Fed is openly monetizing US government debt is effectively hidden from a not-too-terribly inquisitive US press and public.

The speed of the shell game is accelerating.

This immediate repurchase of newly auction bonds by the Fed tells us that demand for these bonds is not nearly as high as advertised, and that things are not quite as strong as represented.

And oh, by the way, don’t expect any stock market weakness while so many billions are being shoveled out the Fed and into the pockets of the primary dealers.  They’ll have to do something with all that freshly minted  cash…..”

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