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EXPERIENCE - KNOWLEDGE - INTEGRITY: 25 years of experience in media production; newspaper, magazines, radio, tv, web-publishing, multimedia and corporate communications . Also experienced in starting new business, management and consulting. Areas of expertice: Economic- and financial journalism,... More
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  • Extreme Climate Turn Norway Into A Blowtorch

    This may very well be a strange side effect of the global climate change. Extreme dry weather this winter have turned the cost of Norway into a hazardous area that may ignites and burst into flames in a matter of seconds. Right now firefighters are trying to save another village from total destruction as nearly 100 buildings are lost, but still hey are not able to control the wild-fire. Only one week ago 40 buildings were lost when another small Norwegian village suddenly burst into flames.

    "Our theory is that sparks from power lines has started the fire, but that's what we're going to find out."

    Trude Skogen

    (click to enlarge)

    Criminal investigators are now arriving the burned-out village, Flatanger, Norwegian Broadcasting (NYSE:NRK) reports Tuesday night. Increasing wind in the area have made the fire even more difficult to manage and it is now threatening almost 140 buildings.

    "We have begun questioning already. Tomorrow, crime technicians and tactical investigators will arrive to continue the research. Our theory is that sparks from power lines has started the fire, but that's what we're going to find out," police prosecutor, Trude Skogen, says.

    Sparks from power lines? You mean those wires hanging over my head right now?

    This seem to be the case, based on eye witness reports.

    Løøsly hanging power lines may have come in contact with each other and produced sparks that may have ignited the extreme dry grass, moss and heather below. Strong winds may have created the scary blowtorch effect.

    State meteorologist confirms that the winter have been extremely dry along the Norwegian cost this year. Areas, usually covered in snow this time of year, is currently being blow dried in a way I have never seen before.

    Another on of those "small prints" on the "Big Wall"?

    If there's anyone out there, who lives in another part of the world, but have seen or experienced something similar, please let me know.

    Photos from:

    nrk.no

    andrssa.no

    ONE WEEK AGO:

    Something similar happened in the village, Lærdal, on the western coast of Norway. 40 buildings were lost.

    (click to enlarge)

    Related by econoTwist's:

    Jan 28 4:56 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Another Stress Test - Another Media Circus

    Hmm..Must be that time of year, or something.. Anyway - European bankers are gearing up for another stress test. Yes, their third. But, hey! This time they promise to get it right. The ECB has even hired the best external stress tester in the business to do the job. US-based financial consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, a company who has a proven track record for coming up with the right numbers. However, not always the most accurate ones.

    "This is the last opportunity to reestablish confidence in the European banking system."

    Jörg Asmussen

    (click to enlarge)

    Stress testing of European banks is actually one of the most entertaining parts of the financial crisis. It's almost hilariously funny to watch the troubled bankers desperately trying to cork a Swiss cheese with a soft gun - the holes just multiply and keeps getting bigger.

    For every "the worst is over" statement, the laughter grows... We've gone from booing to cheering...

    And the preparations for stress test #3 are also promising.

    Last week the ECB announced that it had hired the US-based consultancy firm, Oliver Wyman, to conduct the test. These guys are no strangers to the European stress testing.

    • In 2006, it famously said the Anglo-Irish Bank was the best bank in the world. Three years later, the bank had to be nationalised and almost bankrupted the Irish state, which then needed a euro zone bailout.

    The EU observer writes:

    "The worry in euro zone central banks, according to one insider, is that if banks are reviewed too thoroughly and their problems exposed, they will stop lending and revive the financial crisis."

    Thanks for carving it out, but I think we kinda guessed that already.

    But there's another factor in play this time.

    You see, the ECB is planning to step up to the role as EU's chief supervisor next year and I believe they want to know what they're supposed to supervise.

    The ECB plans to put 130 major European banks to the test before it assumes regulatory supervision of the institutions in the fall of 2014.

    "This test is not a threat," says Jörg Asmussen, former state secretary in the German Finance Ministry, now a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank (ECB).

    "But after two failed stress tests, this is the last opportunity to reestablish confidence in the European banking system."

    I'm sorry, but I think that ship sailed the moment you signed the deal with Oliver Wyman, Mr. Asmussen.

    Additionally, many substantial estimates have already been made over the potential magnitude of the gaps the test will uncover.

    SPIEGEL Online reports that Deutsche Bank estimates that Europe's banks will need €16 billion in additional capital.

    Depending on which criteria the ECB applies in its tests, the gap could be much bigger.

    The Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, has just estimated that the seven largest German banks alone need an additional €43 billion in capital to satisfy the new international capital

    I don't think any stress test dares to go higher than those figures!

    A comparison with the United States gives indications on how bad shape the Europeans really are in.

    US financial groups are reporting record profits, while banks in the euro zone have lost more than €80 billion ($108 billion) in the last two years. In the United States, 10 times as many ailing banks were closed and balance sheets were more consistently relieved of bad debt than in the euro zone.

    The European leaders seem to have failed to adequately address their banking crisis.

    But they won't give up!

    So, what can we expect in the next 8 to 10 months?

    My guess is - for what it's worth - and based on the pattern of previous stress tests, is that we will see a slow, dramatic build-up. with ECB'ers and politicians lining up to give their pledges about the truth and nothing but the truth, followed by a series of suspicious leaks, causing some market turmoil and a little bit of liquidity squeeze, and by this time next year the ECB will take on the European banking supervision with a huge off-balance sheet and the uncertainty of the euro zone bank sector will be unchanged.

    And finally we start all over again with stress test #4.

    We can party for ever!

    Full history of European bank stress testing:

    Oct 04 2:08 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Welcome To Watergate Hotel, Mr. President

    I hope you will enjoy your stay. Oh, and I hope you don't mind a few bugs in the bedroom, after all, they're harmless, right? Speaking of hope, I really hope you are able to leave the Watergate Hotel with a little bit more dignity than some of our former residents, you know, like President Clinton and President Nixon

    (click to enlarge)The legendary Watergate Hotel in Washington

    (Whilst is is now a term synonymous with corruption and scandal, in 1972 the Watergate was one of Washington's plushest hotels. It also houses office complexes and residential apartments. In more recent times, Watergate has been home to former Senator Bob Dole and was once the place where Monica Lewinsky laid low as the liaison that led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment became news. It was here that the Watergate Burglars broke into the Democratic Party's National Committee offices on June 17, 1972.)

    What I have been suspecting for a while is now being confirmed by German website SPIEGLE Online. Current US President, Barak Obama, used the governments data surveillance program to manipulate the second election process in his favor. With all due respect, Mr. President, I think that is cheating.

    Here's what Gregor Peter Schmitz at DerSPIEGEL writes:

    Obama recruited the smartest people from Google and Facebook to categorize American voters by up to 500 different personal proclivities. His IT foot soldiers were able to determine their age, gender, education and favorite beer or magazine - they even data mined their online surfing habits. By hunting voters with algorithms, they were able to create profiles so complex that they could address them in a precisely targeted manner. Obama's election workers knew exactly which doors they needed to knock on in swing states and where canvassing would be pointless.

    FULL STORY@SPIEGEL Online.

    (click to enlarge)

    If this turns out to be accurate, it is almost the same thing as former US president, Mr. Richard Nixon, did back in June 1972 when he authorized a break-in at the Washington Hotel, housing the Democratic Party's National Committee offices.

    The burglars stole information from President Nixon's opponents and used it to gain leverage during the ongoing presidential campaign, resulting in a landslide victory in November the same year. President Nixon tried to cover up the burglary (like Clinton tried to cover up his affair with Ms Monica Lewinsky), but as we all know; some snowballs can not be stopped once they start rolling.

    And this snowball has the potential of a bomb.

    Social Blowback

    "We do not spy on you people!" sound just as good as "I'm not a crock" or "I did not have sex with that woman". The two last statements have made ground for many great jokes; the US surveillance program is about to make Mr. Obama the prime target for entertainers around the world.

    The Rolling Stones gave a concert in Washington recently, just a few kilometers away from the White House. "I don't think President Obama is here, but I'm sure he's listening in," the Stones frontman quipped from stage.

    (click to enlarge)Click to watch on YouTube

    Obama's social media strategists are about to experience their toughest test so far if this issue goes viral charged with negativity towards the president and his administration. Barack Obama's strong present in the social media may backfire, seriously.

    (click to enlarge)

    .

    (click to enlarge)

    Cover-ups

    The one thing that could make this case any worse, is evidence of some kind of cover-up operation. Including evidence of lying or misleading the US Congress and the American people.

    Up until now, the US president have tried to make the whole matter seem insignificant. However, the questions will be tougher, the pressure will be harder, and a political "soft landing" is just as unlikely as an economical "soft landing." At one point the President will have to sort this out, both domestically and internationally,

    That will be crucial when it comes to defining Mr. Barack Obama's role in history. When it comes to the expectations of great changes for common people, I'm sorry to say, but that hope is gone.

    econoTwist's

    The Watergate Chronicles.

    Jul 03 2:18 PM | Link | Comment!
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