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Some Hot Topics for this Week

US President Barak Obama says, “our economy moving in right direction.”


President Barack Obama said Saturday the US economic recovery is moving "in the right direction" with a million jobs created or saved thanks to the government's stimulus policies.  "Today, I am pleased to offer some better news that, while not cause for celebration, is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction," the president said in his weekly radio address.

"We can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion." Obama said.

The US Commerce Department reported last week that the economy grew at a annual rate of 3.5% in Q-3 after four consecutive Quarters of contraction, signaling the economic recession that began in December 2007 was over.

In a separate statement, the White House said the US government's US$787B stimulus plan that was launched in February had saved or created more than 1 million US jobs. The overall job losses in the USA have totaled 7.2M since the downturn began in December 2007.

The US Unemployment rate hit a new 26-year high of 9.8% in September. Some analysts said that the October report due next week could show unemployment climbing to the double digit level.

 While highlighting fresh signs of economic recovery, Mr. Obama stressed that the country still has "a long way to go before we return to prosperity." "We will likely see further job losses in the coming days," Obama said. "But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing.”



California’s 4th largest bank was taken over by regulators on Friday; business as usual

In the 4th largest takeover by regulators in the US this year, the Los Angeles’ HQ’d California National Bank was acquired by regulators Friday night; its business will go on as usual.

The acquisition took place as the 68 branch California bank suffered from hefty loss in buying preferred shares issued by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It was taken over by the US Bank unit of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.

U.S. Bancorp, with its assets of US$19.4B at the end of September, had agreed to assume the deposits and most of the assets of the banks.

The California National Bank's branches, which are located in Los Angeles and Orange counties, were open for business on Saturday as usual.

The bank has assets of US$7.8B and US$6.2B in deposits. The failure will not incur losses to depositors, according to bank regulators.


Barcelona, Spain hosts Climate Change talks this week

This week, Barcelona is the host city for the final round of talks on Climate Change before the Convention of Parties (COP-15 meeting) to be held in Copenhagen in December.

The delegates in Barcelona will discuss the text of the texts of two previous working groups with the aim of drawing up a further text that will hopefully lead to a final agreement in Copenhagen.

The purpose is to try to work within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the industrialized counties beyond Y 2012.

The talks will be divided into five blocks, each dealing with a different aspect of the problems faced.

These areas are: Shared vision, adaptation, mitigation, financing and the transfer of technology.

Among the difficulties faced is that of to what levels greenhouse gases should be cut. Developing nations such as China and India have agreed to cut emissions by 40% of their 1990 levels by Y 2020. EU nations meanwhile have promised to reduce their emissions by 20%.

However, that percentage could increase if the USA, and possibly Japan are willing to make a commitment to even higher cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is hoped the new US administration will be more willing than that the former US President Bush’s government and there are hopes of a better understanding between the USA and China.

Over 4,000 delegates and observers will descend on Barcelona for the talks, which will begin on November 2nd and continue through November 6th.

Brazil plans to authorize foreign currency bank accounts

Brazil's Central Bank plans to authorize the opening of bank accounts in foreign currency in a bid to slow the sharp rise of its Real against the US$, officials said Saturday.

The opening of foreign currency bank accounts would avoid the appreciation of Real which resulted from the strong inflow of foreign capital into Brazil's robust emerging economy, Brazilian newspaper O Globo quoted officials of the Brazilian monetary authority as saying on Saturday.

According to reports, the Brazilian finance ministry is also ready to approve a decree authorizing the Sovereign Fund, sourcing from the budget surplus, to purchase US$’s. The reduction in transaction costs would "lessen the pressure" in the exchange system, authorities said.

Brazil's currency recorded an appreciation of 0.95% in October and a cumulative appreciation of 24.67% in 2009. Since October 30, 2008, The Real has accumulated a gain of 16.62%.

A steady rise in its rate of inflation rate shows that Italy is out of crisis

The steady rise in Italy's inflation rate is the proof that the country is finally out of recession, Italian Statistics Office ISTAT said in a preliminary report published last Friday.

According to ISTAT's calculations, for a 3rd consecutive month in October consumer prices have soared, gaining 0.5% from September and 0.4% from a year earlier, local media reported.

The rise in inflation is the last of a series of optimistic economic signs demonstrating how the country has exited the global downturn.

On Oct. 15, the Bank of Italy announced that Italy had emerged from the worst recession since World War II. The economy has expanded about 1% with a considerable rise in export demand, reaching in August a record gain in industrial output.

Over the past weeks, government and institutional representatives have praised Italy's positive performance vis-à-vis the financial crisis.

Last Thursday, Italy's central banker, Mario Draghi, announced that" the most acute phase of the crisis was over," expressing doubt however on a certain economic recovery without the implementation of new financial rules.  Draghi's warning was repeated on Friday by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who urged the rapid adoption of "structural economic reforms" to sustain the country's industrial growth.