Katie Paul

Stories by Katie Paul

  • Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, April 23

    Reconsidering the Reconsideration of Aid: Two recent books have put aid to Africa on trial, arguing that it often does more harm than good. The idea has become vogue in the do-gooder zeitgeist, but Johannesburg-based Greg Mills says it's not the whole story.Another One on the Up: Credit Suisse joined Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in returning to profitability. The Swiss bank posted a quarterly profit of $1.7 billion after having lost over $5 billion last fall and shed some 5,100 jobs.World's Biggest Frenemies: Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen editorializes that China and the U.S. form a de facto G-2 and have no choice but to get along. He lays out some points of commonality where they might get the ball rolling.Polyannas vs. Cassandras: Lex wonders why the IMF insists on being such a sourpuss while politicians are doing their darndest to promote a recovery story.Don't Tread on Me: Fed up with countries like China and Japan dumping cheap imports that hinder...
  • The Consumer Is Fickle

    As promised, here's a more well-digested take on the Nielsen consumer trend report. The basics: Nielsen aggregated consumer trend data from 11 major GDP countries to come up with the key performance indicator (KPI) chart at left (tip for how to read the thing: the greener, the better). The index was weighted based on dollar sales and unit sales, but also took into account things like how often people were shopping, how much they were buying each time, to what extent they were buying generic brands, and how confident they were that the end is near (in a good way). See all those gray horizontal arrows? Nielsen VP James Russo sees them as a sign that we're either at or very close to a bottom in the recession. Consumer spending is leveling off from its massive drops--in fact, in Germany, it even rose slightly. It's not because people are suddenly buying up Porches again. Rather, they're snatching up essentials in bulk. "The big thing is that we're not seei...
  • Today in Colorful Ways to Follow the Money

    Nielson is out today with two reports on global consumer behavior, with some potentially happy news for the US. I'll post more info on their findings shortly, but I think this is a sufficiently clear, handy presentation of global stimulus dollars that it deserves a look on its own. Pretty incredible that South Africa is pumping a full 38 percent of its GDP into its economy, no? It makes our 5.5 percent look meager by comparison, alarmingly close to a trillion bucks though it may be.
  • Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, April 22

    Banks with Chutzpah: Treasury is up for a fight on the Detroit front, after banks and other lenders came back with a meager counteroffer on canceling most of Chrysler's debt. Word on the street is that the big dogs--JP Morgan and Citi--were convinced by the little guys to be more aggressive. Apparently they didn't get the memo about not biting the hand that feeds.And the (Closest Thing We Have to a) Winner Is...: Mohamed El-Erian is very much looking forward to the release of the results from bank stress tests. He lays out five ways they ought to go down.German Toxic Waste Seeking Dump: Merkel is getting moving on a plan to take care of banks' toxic assets, which will most likely end up in a series of bad banks rather than one centralized dumping ground. Analysts expect the plan to come together by the summer. Platinum Concerns: After the polls close and celebrations die down in South Africa, the new government will inherit big troubles in the country's huge...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Tuesday, April 21

    You know it's been a bad year when the word profit sets off waves of cynicism. NPR puts it all in perspective--the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.Recession Nostalgia: Having declared the financial misery of the last two years over, the chairman of London & Oxford Capital Markets lays out all the benefits of the recession we'll miss once it's gone. Lower prices, home-grown veggies, and leisure time make the cut. Mass foreclosures are mysteriously absent...A Graying Dragon: Remember China's draconian population control measures? Not only did they spell bad news for baby girls, but also for a society that will see the elderly account for 30 percent of the population by 2050. The coming retirement avalanche puts additional weight behind efforts to expand China's social safety net.Playing Oil Hardball: OPEC leaders are making noise about cutting supply after months of weak prices, accusing consumer countries of stockpiling. That...
  • No Parody Please, We're British

    Someone at the Financial Times has caught a serious case of the sillies. The Lex column, in case you are not a regular reader (and for shame, sir!), bills itself as FT's "agenda-setting column on business and financial topics." But yesterday, dear friends, the lords of finance behind Lex were concerned not with property and commerce, but with skewering President Barack Obama in an awkwardly hysterical fake speech. Excerpts: Phew, we’ve been busy! It looks like my administration has been doing a million things at once – but I promise we’re in control. First, let’s agree blame for this meltdown lies equally with Wall Street, Washington and Main Street. But mostly Wall Street. Let me be straight: we will spend and save at the same time. My word! Whatever was in the tea at the G20 summit must have made its way over to the Southwark Bridge. Next thing you know, headlines like "New era dawns: minds blown" will start hitting the front page. Wait, ?
  • The Rest Are Rising...

    Some good news today for anyone holding emerging markets equities: JP Morgan's chief emerging market strategist in Hong Kong is expecting stocks in the 23-country benchmark to surge a whopping 39 percent this year, according to a report he released today. He's feeling so good about prospects for the developing world, in fact, he argued that they may be better off than they were before Lehman tanked last summer. ...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, April 16

    Phew! We at the WON blog congratulate you on making it through a particularly taxing tax season.No Más: Spain's central bank chief says on any further fiscal stimulus, arguing the injections have reached a point of diminished returns. Unemployment in Spain is already at 15 percent and expected to worsen, making it the highest rate in the 27-country European Union.Monroe Doctrine, Kaput: China steps up its game in Latin America, where it is the second-biggest trading partner, a move one analyst says is possible because of the lack of attention shown during the Bush administration. That is likely to be on Obama's mind when he meets with LatAm's leaders this weekend, especially since, as we learned recently, the Chinese are not the only ones eyeing the region's markets.Foreclosure Tempest: The U.S. foreclosure floodgates opened in March as moratoriums expired. One out of every 159 households got hit with a foreclosure filing. It's not letting up anytime soon;...
  • Breakfast Buffet: Tuesday, April 14

    Want a 22,000% Rate of Return on Your Investment?: Hire a lobbyist.Down and Out in Germany: Some in the German government are thinking about setting up state-funded companies in which other firms can "park" their "redundant" workers while they ride out the recession. Read it along with this NYT analysis of the decline of Germany's automobile manufacturing industry.Dumb Wars: The FT's Clive Crook dissects the US war on drugs and concludes it is "criminally stupid." Considering that decriminalization could bring in an extra $100 billion each year, he says, it's high time someone at the White House took a serious look at overhaul.IMF Loosens Up: In an effort to remove the borrowing "stigma" that soured relations with many emerging markets, the IMF is doing away with its strict structural reform requirements. Countries in need of funds will now be able to continuing borrowing from the IMF even if they have not yet implemented all...
  • Breakfast Buffet, TGIF, April 10

    All Dug Up and Nowhere to Go: U.S. farm exports are feeling the recession's squeeze this year, a big shift for farmers who benefited from the rest of the world's perfect storm last year. While agricultural land prices in the States have remained solid (as we learned here a couple of weeks ago), the dollar's rise and world demand's slump have cut both the volume and the price of food exports--prompting worries that 45,000 jobs could be lost.Untouchable Engines of Growth: India's legions of Mushahar, or untouchables, may be the very folks keeping the country's economy from falling into the global recession pit, the WSJ says. Investments in rural states in recent years have equipped "Old India" to buoy stalling growth in new sectors like information technology and securities trade.Nukes and Terrorism, So 2008: Pentagon officials held the first-ever war game to prep for economic warfare, the Politico reports. Rather than bullets and bombs, the...
  • Seriously, Who Runs Security at the Economic Club?

    Code Pink strikes again! This time while Larry Summers is trying to talk about policy choices and deflation at the buttoned-up Economic Club of Washington, D.C. But it sounds like they run out of steam after about fifteen seconds, probably because they didn't expect to be onstage for any longer than that (reasonably enough).
  • Why the Fed Is Like an Experimental Teenager

    Besides the economic forecasts, which seem to get bleaker by the minute, the big news to come out of the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes today was that board members were divided on plans to pump money into the system by buying up mortgage and Treasury securities. (They ultimately did, by the way--more than $1 trillion of them).Paul Ashworth, an economist with Capital Economics, called it a "scatter gun" strategy; fire enough bullets and one of them will probably hit the target. "One [FOMC] member only wanted to buy mortgage-backed securities and another member only wanted to buy treasury-backed securities, so the collegial thing to do was to say, OK, we'll just buy both," he said. He then gave the plan another nickname I liked even less: the experimental teenager approach.But experimental or not, the minutes show that certain members of the board were pushing for even more purchases of long-term assets, so it wouldn't be surprising to see...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, April 8

    Under the (Black) Sea: Italy and Russia cemented ties with a flurry of business deals yesterday, including a $4.1 billion sale involving Gazprom, Russia's national oil giant. Vladimir Putin watched over the dealings. Silvio Berlusconi was set to attend, but instead remained in earthquake-hit Italy. At a time when most European countries have cooled relations with Russia, the transaction strengthens a partnership planning to jointly construct a pipeline underneath the Black Sea.Nuclear Finances, Busted: A New York-based prosecutor has issued a 118-count indictment of the head of a Chinese firm for using front companies and aliases to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran--essentially, using the U.S. banking system to facilitate the sale of materials used to build nuclear weapons. Iran is (perhaps not incidentally), a major supplier of oil and gas to China. It could be a sticky spot for Hillary Clinton, who has been cozying up to Chinese offficials.Making the Rich Pay: The...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Monday, April 6

    Newsweek's daily serving of news and view from around the world:Obama's Budget Conundrum: Think the G20 was a big deal? Not compared to the U.S. budget debate, says FT's Clive Crook, and he's not happy with Congress. They've all but nixed the main revenue-raising idea, while ensuring the most expensive proposal--health care reform--will pass with or without Republican support. As is, a budget gap would remain ten years out.Inflation in an Emerging Market, Like the U.S.: Over at the Baseline Scenario, Simon Johnson reasons that the IMF's concerns about inflationary pressures in middle-income emerging markets could also apply for the American economy.Beating the Treasury War Drums: Banks' board members could be next to get the ax from the federal government, Tim Geithner warned in an interview with CBS on Sunday. He also described GM's restructing plan as "not quite there yet."China's Smooth Operating: Bob Samuelson says China is...
  • So That's What the Bended Knee Thing Was About...

    Let the blame games begin: Phillip Swagel, formerly the assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy under Hank Paulson, is out with a 50-page memoir on how the whole economic mess went down behind the scenes. The WSJ has very good cliff notes here, though you should absolutely check out the essay itself (here's the PDF).But there's more to that story. Wealth of Nations' own Mike Hirsh actually talked to Swagel for his column this week. In the process, he learned that Geithner's new plan for toxic legacy assets had its roots in an idea Warren Buffett proposed to Paulson back in October, backed by PIMCO's Bill Gross and Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein. But Paulson rejected the idea, instead placing his bets on fast-track capital injections as the financial world crumbled around him. Why does this matter now? Mike says the issue goes straight to the heart of a still-unresolved philosophical divide--even within the Obama administration--over just how...
  • G20 Statement Cheat Sheet

    You've probably heard by now that the G20 reached a consensus, and we bet you're probably sneaking clandestine glances at the news when your boss isn't watching. We applaud that. Because we don't want you to get caught, we've pulled out the two juiciest clauses from the plan for a quick read. Big questions for now: What about stimulus coordination? And where in the world is all of this money coming from? FT has its suspicions that the world's currency printing presses will be getting quite a workout soon. More to follow......
  • Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, April 2

    April 2, aaaaand we're back to reality. Here's Newsweek's daily serving of news and views from around the world, G20-style.Let the Games Begin!: Starting off with a mea culpa press conference wasn't enough to get Obama off the hook. Resistance to U.S. plans is coming in from all directions, but especially from a newly chummy France and Germany, who are calling for regulatory overhaul. As the WSJ put it, Obama had an easier time with former Cold War combatants than he's having with his allies. Their best bet for consensus is on tax havens. Yikes.G20's Dirty Little Secret: No, seriously, it gets worse. FT's wicked smart Gillian Tett writes that the G20 big dogs are (shock!) failing to address the crisis-causing elephant in the room: toxic assets. As she quotes one anonymous "senior global policy official" griping: "The Americans are hiding behind stimulus and the Europeans are hiding...
  • Holas, Salaams, and a Touch of Drama

     I had my eye on the second Arab-South American summit taking place in Qatar yesterday, and not just for the entertainment value (though, given the personalities involved, that sure earned it some bonus points). But since the media reports coming out of Doha were all focused on those big personalities, I decided to ask Bertrand Delgado, a senior economist at Nouriel Roubini's RGE Monitor, about what he was seeing on the econ front....
  • G20 for Dummies. Yes, There Are Pictures.

    China's proposing wacky currency schemes. Brazil's playing cheap racial politics cards. Gordon Brown's going on a whirlwind global tour, while getting smacked around by both his hosts and his own country's rep in the European parliament. Saudi Arabia's holding out on IMF funding because its leaders feel they haven't been properly thanked for stabilizing oil prices. And Argentina's bringing up the Falkla--I mean, the Malvinas. Again. Even though everyone else has made it rather plain that they couldn't care less.With everyone looking to get their cut at this week's G20 summit, it's useful to step back and take a tally of the demands each country brings to the table--which is why I think this interactive wishlist from the FT is so nifty. It's been pretty simple to track the big themes of the past few weeks' pre-summit politicking: developed countries are treading mighty carefully, while rising economies are looking for any...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Tuesday, March 31

    Newsweek's daily serving of news and views from around the world.The Odd Couple at the Helm: He's vain. She's no-nonsense. He's hyperactive. She's measured. He likes government. She likes markets. But although they're producing very different national responses, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are cobbling together a marriage of circumstance for the euro zone to resist American calls for more spending.China Steps Up to the IMF Plate: The IMF has never been a favored organization in the People's Republic, but Chinese leaders are willing to hand over funding in exchange for a bigger share in decision-making. Securing those funds could be the big achievement of the G20. But the EU commissioner for external affairs, representing countries that would lose influence, is telling Beijing that this week is not the right time to discuss the matter.Time for a Plan B, America: Peterson Institute economist Adam Posen takes to the Daily Beast today, likening...
  • Lula Laying on the White Guilt

    We learned this morning that Brazil's President Luiz Inacio da Silva has blamed the entirety of the world's financial woes on a bunch of "white, blue-eyed" bankers. "This crisis was caused by no black man or woman or by no indigenous person or by no poor person," he said, standing right next to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and promising to make the fast-approaching G20 conference "spicy."...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Friday, March 27

    Newsweek's daily serving of news and views from around the world.So, About That Good Governance...: For the past few years, China's no-strings-attached investments had flooded Africa, replacing risk-averse Western investors in the scramble for resources. But with global commodities prices tumbling and the continent's chaos increasing, Chinese companies are starting to look for more security for their money.Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Alan Greenspan writes in the FT that banks should not be allowed to grow too big. He recommendeds graduated capital requirements to keep them honest.Responsibility to (Not) Protect: What do steel pipes, toys, and oil have in common? They are all subject to new tariffs introduced during the downturn. A new WTO report warns that this year's steady buildup of protectionist measures around the world is threatening to "slowly strangle" free trade and undercut stimulus spending.If the IMF's Walls Could Talk: A must-read from...
  • Breakfast Buffet, Thursday, March 26

    Newsweek's daily serving of news and views from around the world.Geithner Tightens the Knot on Wall Street: Geithner is expected to come out today with yet another announcement about a new program, this time a sweeping expansion of federal regulation of the financial system. One agency--probably the Fed--gets control of the regulatory bodies, which supposedly will be reformed themselves in coming months.Brazil and the Future of the Economy: President Luiz Inacio da Silva opines in the FT that a new economic order will emerge out of the present unpleasantness, and he hopes it will be free of the "dogmas" that long characterized policy prescriptions for countries like his.Containing the Developed World's Storm: George Soros writes of why and how the IMF and the G20 might protect the developing world from the "storm created in the developed world." He advocates long-term strengthening of the IMF.The Winter of Czech Discontent: Czech Prime Minister Mirek...
  • I Bite My Thumb at You, Sir!

    Gordon Brown gets publicly filleted by EU parliamentarian (and instant blogohero) Daniel Hannan, who dubs him the Devalued Prime Minister. Awwwww, snap!
  • Today in Excellent Questions for Timothy Geithner

    "Just how much do you want to gut-punch Paul Krugman?"Daniel Drezner over at Foreign Policy wanted to throw this one into the queue for CFR's live blogospherically interactive interview with the Treasury secretary this morning. Sadly, though, he resisted the temptation.
  • Breakfast Buffet, Wednesday, March 25

    Newsweek's daily serving of news and views on the economy from around the world. Mehs on Obama's Press Conference: WaPo's editorial captures the CW on the president's performance defending his budget in prime time last night. Media flacks were roundly befuddled by their colleagues' lack of attention to foreign policy questions. In case you forgot, the U.S. is still fighting two wars.Brazil's Problem with Rosy Glasses: After President Lula da Silva's projection that the global economic crisis would produce only a "ripple" in Brazil proved false, the WSJ says he is under fire for disingenuously cheerleading to keep investors from pulling out.Arab Unity, Delayed: Five Gulf states have abandoned their plans to develop a shared currency by 2010, long considered an untenable deadline, says Kuwait's Al-Watan.Toyota, anyone? Anyone?: Japanese exports plunged by about half in February, a record decline for the world's second-largest...
  • The Girly Men of Wall Street

    Are you stark raving mad at Wall Street? Nothing like a little emasculation to cheer you up. NEWSWEEK's own Daniel Gross weighs in on the Geithner plan and wonders where the hell all the capitalists have gone.