House Lashes Out at China
Bill Would Give U.S. Power to Levy Tariffs Over Cheap Yuan; Senate May Balk.
The measure would allow, but not require, the U.S. to levy tariffs on countries that undervalue their currencies, which makes their goods cheaper relative to American products. A majority of Republicans lined up with Democrats to pass the bill on a 348-79 vote, highlighting lawmakers' long-simmering frustration with Chinese trade practices as well as their sensitivity to the faltering U.S. economic recovery with an election looming.
The vote marks the strongest trade measure aimed at China to make it through a chamber of Congress after more than a decade of threats by lawmakers. But despite the broad support Wednesday, dim Senate prospects make it unlikely the measure would become law this year.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said Thursday it would be a breach of World Trade Organization rules to conduct antisubsidy investigations based on exchange-rate concerns, according to the official Xinhua news agency. He said China is willing to take joint actions with the U.S. to help balance trade flows between the two countries, but he said China doesn't undervalue its currency to obtain a competitive advantage.
In a rare showing of bi-partisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to support a bill that puts pressure on China to let its currency rise faster. Video courtesy of Reuters.
.Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, on Wednesday criticized the House vote for politicizing the issue. He stressed the importance of trade relations between the two countries and urged lawmakers to "refrain from making excuses for practicing trade protectionism against China, so as to avoid further harming the overall China-U.S. economic cooperation and their trade relations."
The Obama administration didn't endorse the measure, nor did it work with House negotiators out of concern for being tagged as secretly approving of the move. Nevertheless, the bill gives the White House another tool to pressure China to boost the value of its currency, the yuan.
Vote: Should the U.S. levy tariffs on imports from countries with undervalued currencies such as China?
.Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has already tried to use the threat of congressional action to press China to let its currency appreciate.
"Today's vote clearly shows lawmakers have serious concerns about this issue," a Treasury spokeswoman said. "The President and Secretary Geithner share those concerns."
The administration also is expected to use multilateral pressure, as European and Asian countries are likely to complain about Chinese currency practices at a Washington meeting of the International Monetary Fund next week, and a summit of the leaders of the Group-of-20 industrialized and developing nations in mid-November in Seoul.
China generally links its currency tightly to the dollar. Many economists have long viewed the rate as undervalued, giving Chinese exporters a big boost competing in the U.S. market and putting pressure on American steelmakers and machine-tool producers, among others. In June 2010, China said it would allow the yuan to float more freely, but it since has gained just 2% against the dollar.
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.The Obama administration faces election-year pressure to act. China is increasingly coming up in both parties' campaigns, as a sort of shorthand for worrisome foreign influence. In their recently released "Pledge to America," for example, Republicans say the U.S. shouldn't "borrow 41 cents of every dollar we spend, much of it from foreign countries, including China."
Democrats have accused Republicans of abetting outsourcing and the trade deficit. Rep. Mark Schauer, a Michigan Democrat in a tough race, is airing an ad against his GOP opponent that says, "Tim Walberg made it way too easy for companies to outsource our jobs to China. That's wrong. I'm fighting to end outsourcing, and making sure we create jobs here, not China."
Mr. Walberg said the ad misrepresents his position.
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Strong Dollar Takes Toll on Aussie Films. Access thousands of business sources not available on the free web. Learn More .The parties' divisions remained on display in their response to Wednesday's vote. "Real action is now being taken in Congress to stand up for American workers and businesses," said House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin of Michigan. But GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas warned against "precipitating a trade war at a time when we're in tough economic times."
The move comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-China relations, with clashes over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea and wrangling over a number of trade issues, from glossy paper to tires to chicken.
Under the measure approved Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce would be directed to consider whether Beijing's currency practices amount to an unfair subsidy to Chinese companies in cases brought by their competitors. If Commerce were to make such a finding, it could assess levies on goods imported from China or other countries with undervalued currencies.
But the measure, which was revised in a Ways and Means Committee vote earlier this month, doesn't require Commerce to make such a determination. The change in language, said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer at White & Case, gives the administration "a way to say no" to U.S. industries and could signal to China that Washington isn't looking to declare a trade war over currency practices.
China critics in the Senate plan to press for legislation when lawmakers return to Washington after the elections, but that would involve a separate proposal and the window for legislation to move before year-end is expected to be brief.
The House is set to pass legislation that would pressure China to increase the value of its currency and lead to additional duties on goods from that country. John Bussey, Rebecca Blumenstein and Dennis Berman discuss.
.If Republicans win control of the House, priorities could change. Even Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee who supported the bill said the U.S. should instead be more aggressive in pursuing alleged Chinese trade violations with the World Trade Organization, rather than taking on Beijing unilaterally. "To those who continue to oppose this bill, I say this: This bill is not on my trade agenda," said Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, the top GOP member of Ways and Means.
Mr. Camp also plans to press for Washington to revive bilateral-investment treaty talks with Beijing. Republicans have also called for the U.S. to move more quickly on new trade pacts.
Even so, the heat will remain on Beijing over trade. Although Chinese officials regularly say they don't act in response to threats of pressure, that hasn't been the case recently. In June, shortly before an earlier G-20 summit, China said it would end its two-year-old practice of tying the yuan tightly to the dollar.
When the yuan's value barely budged, the U.S. dispatched White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers to Beijing in September to warn of political consequences. Since then, the yuan has risen 1.7%, and about 2% overall since the June announcement.
But predicting Beijing's reaction is always difficult. A coalition of three dozen U.S.-based trade associations warned in a letter to Congress that the measure could produce a backlash against U.S. companies. In Beijing, The American Chamber of Commerce in China also opposed such legislation, which it said "puts at risk thousands of existing export-related jobs."
—Andrew Batson contributed to this article.
Molycorp, which mines of a group of metals known as rare earth elements used in hybrid vehicle batteries, wind turbines, compact fluorescent light bulbs, magnets for electric vehicle motors, consumer electronics and other technologies, filed with regulators Friday afternoon to raise up to $350 million in an initial public offering.
Demand Response as the Back Door Smart Grid? Mobile Operators’ Strategies for Connected Devices Why Texas is the Smart Meter Market to Watch Is the Opt-Out Model the Future of Home Energy Management? Rare earth elements (REEs) aren’t actually as uncommon as the name implies. Some of them are about as abundant as industrial metals like nickel, copper, zinc and lead. For comparison, the two least abundant REE (thulium and lutetium) are almost 200 times more common than gold. What is rare is for these metals to become concentrated in deposits that are easy to tap, and as a result, most of the world’s supply comes from just a few sites. Molycorp controls one of them.
Using proceeds from the IPO, Molycorp plans to modernize and expand its Mountain Pass, Calif. rare earth project, and also acquire a rare earth metals and alloys producer. The Mountain Pass project has been around for more than a half century (at times owned by Chevron), and Molycorp calls it the largest, most fully developed site of its kind outside of China — a country that accounts for all but about 5 percent of the world’s REE output.
Some of the world’s largest known deposits of REE are located stateside, but the U.S. has been importing most of its REE from China since the 1990s, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The prospect of China’s government limiting exports of the metals, Lux Research analyst Jacob Grose has told us, “is indeed a concern for the hybrid vehicle industry.”
That’s because rare earths are used in nickel metal hydride batteries, like those in the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. “Even though…hybrids use only a fraction of the worldwide output of these metals,” Grose explained, “if there is a shortage and prices rise, it will definitely lead to cost increases in today’s hybrids.”
The supply shift traces back partly to new Chinese companies coming online and ramping up production, helping to drive down prices to a point where U.S. companies have found it difficult to compete. But Molycorp itself also had a role in the shift: The company stopped removing ore from the Mountain Pass site in 2002 after it had problems with radioactive waste spilling into a nearby lake and the company’s permit expired.
Molycorp notes in its prospectus today that it secured a 30-year permit in 2004, and it plans to re-start mining operations at Mountain Pass in late 2010, reaching full-scale production (40 million pounds of finished rare earth products per year) in 2012.
The company, which reportedly needs to raise $450 million to $500 million to start mining fresh ore again, recognizes that it will need to bring down costs. According to today’s filing, Molycorp plans to implement new production technologies, developed in-house, that it claims will reduce the amount of water, energy and raw materials that go into its operations, as well as the amount of waste water that comes out.
After completing its modernization and expansion efforts — upgrading equipment, setting up capacity to produce some of its own raw materials, and installing a natural gas co-generation power plant at the Mountain Pass site, for example — Molycorp anticipates its biggest operating costs will be natural gas and labor.
According to Molycorp’s filing today, it saw $28.6 million in losses last year, more than double its $14.1 million loss in 2008. Sales reached $7.1 million in 2009, when Molycorp’s mining was on on hold but it was able to sell manufactured products and feedstocks stockpiled from earlier mining campaigns.
Graphics courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey
中国は、人民元切り上げで国際社会、とくにアメリカの要求に震えている。“日本の領土を侵略する。それも、米軍の基地のある沖縄や尖閣諸島に迫っている”とゲーツも、ヒラリーも受け取っているから、さあ大変だ。このあたりから、中国はその経済力も、軍事力も下げていく。当たり前だよ。アメリカには、“America is exception”EXCEPTIONALISMというという伝統的な思想があるのだ。「世界の平和も戦争も、アメリカが決める」という。つまり、中国の身勝手な主張などに目もくれない、、、好戦的なチャイニーズは世界に嫌われた。そして、日本ばかりか、世界と対決している。つまり、中国は正念場を迎えている。だが、日本政府が中国を思いやる必要はないよ。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナWen Warns 20% Yuan Gain Would Cause ‘Major’ Upheaval.
By Ye Xie
Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said a 20 percent rise in the yuan would cause severe job losses and trigger social instability, putting the nation on course for a clash with U.S. lawmakers demanding a stronger currency.
“We cannot imagine how many Chinese factories will go bankrupt, how many Chinese workers will lose their jobs, and how many migrant workers will return to the countryside” should China acquiesce to demands for a 20 percent to 40 percent gain, Wen said in New York yesterday. “China would suffer major social upheaval.”
The yuan has appreciated about 2 percent against the dollar since June 19, when the central bank said it would pursue a more flexible exchange rate after keeping the currency at about 6.83 versus the U.S. currency for almost two years. The yuan gained 0.1 percent to 6.7079 per dollar on Sept. 21, the strongest level since the central bank unified official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993.
“To make a call for a currency to be revalued in the near term by up to 40 percent is something that only someone who isn’t familiar with the economics of exchange rates would say,” said Glenn Maguire, a Hong Kong-based economist at Societe Generale SA. “It’s just not that feasible for something like that to happen so quickly.”
The yuan’s value isn’t causing the U.S. trade deficit with China or fueling unemployment and there is no basis for a “drastic appreciation” in the currency, Wen said in an evening speech at an event co-hosted by the National Committee on U.S.- China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council.
President Barack Obama earlier this week said China is keeping the currency cheap to aid exports.
The currency is “valued lower than market conditions say it should be” and that gives China “an advantage in trade,” Obama said Sept. 20 at a town-hall discussion on jobs and the economy in Washington. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday it will meet Sept. 24 to consider legislation to push China to raise the value of its currency.
“The main cause of the U.S. trade deficit is not the exchange rate of the Chinese currency, but the structure of investment and savings,” Wen said at a meeting with U.S. business leaders, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, in New York yesterday. “China doesn’t pursue a trade surplus intentionally.”
The U.S. trade deficit with China is widening at a time when Obama is confronted with an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent and the threat for his Democratic party to lose seats heading into the November elections. China ran up a $119 billion trade surplus with the U.S. in the first half of 2010, putting it on course to exceed last year’s total of $227 billion, figures from the U.S. Commerce Department show.
With the “U.S. having outsourced all its manufacturing capacity and production to China, the policy response of getting the currency to appreciate dramatically, or put up tariffs, would ultimately mean the welfare loss is more likely to be in the U.S. than China,” Societe Generale’s Maguire said.
China’s exports are focused on labor-intensive manufacturing, and “the U.S. has long since stopped producing many of these products,” Wen said. “If the U.S. doesn’t import from China, it will import from somewhere else.”
The two countries should instead focus on boosting exports to China, Wen said, calling on the U.S. to ease restrictions on the sale of some goods. The Chinese government is committed to boosting domestic consumption to help rebalance trade, he said.
New York Meeting
Wen is scheduled to meet Obama today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Wen said he expected the meeting to improve trust. China has invited U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to visit, he said.
“I am sympathetic to the Chinese argument that the exchange rate doesn’t explain all the problems of the trade imbalance, but it contributes to the problems,” said Mark Dow, who helps manage $3 billion at Pharo Management LLC in New York. “Obama is becoming impatient. They are forced to be more vocal. Obama isn’t ready to expend his political capital to buy time for China to move its currency.”
The Chinese yuan rose 21 percent between July 2005 and July 2008, when the government halted its advance to protect exports during the global financial crisis.
The economic imbalance China is facing is “hardly avoidable in any country’s development,” Wen said yesterday, adding that China’s trade surplus as a percentage of its economy has been declining in recent years, and that both his country and the U.S. must reject trade protectionism.
Yesterday’s meeting also included PepsiCo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi and two former Treasury secretaries, Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who helped re-establish diplomatic ties between China and the U.S. under President Richard Nixon, was the moderator.
Differences with the U.S. are “very easy to resolve,” when compared with “the challenges that Dr. Kissinger faced in those early days,” Wen said.
China needs to take “very aggressive” measures to adjust its economy, Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, said at the meeting. The country needs to improve social security to reduce excess savings, Roach said. Increased Chinese demand would in turn help U.S. exports and jobs, he said.
“The currency fix will not work, despite what you hear from a lot of famous economists and politicians,” Roach said. “It didn’t work for Japan in the late 1980s. It didn’t work for the U.S. when the dollar fell 23 percent on a trade-weighted basis since early 2002.”
China’s surplus in its current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, narrowed to 2.2 percent of gross domestic product in the first half from 9.9 percent in 2008, Wen said yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ye Xie in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org
Japan's new foreign minister gets tough on China
By MARI YAMAGUCHI
The Associated Press
Friday, September 17, 2010; 7:50 AM
TOKYO -- A security expert and China hawk, Japan's new foreign minister has already taken a tough stance toward Beijing amid escalating diplomatic tension over a territorial dispute between the two Asian giants.
Seiji Maehara, the former transport minister and most prominent symbol of change in Prime Minister Naoto Kan's new Cabinet announced Friday, will also become the point man for Japan on the nettlesome issue of relocating a controversial U.S. Marine base on Okinawa.
The Cabinet reshuffle comes after Kan, a fiscal disciplinarian who took office just three months ago, won a divisive Democratic Party leadership election Tuesday and promised to use his victory to push ahead with efforts to cap spending, create jobs and build party unity.
Kan retained the ministers for the key Cabinet posts of finance and defense, but changed 10 of the 17 positions.
Maehara takes over the Foreign Ministry at a delicate time in relations between China and Japan, the world's No. 2 and No. 3 economies. Tensions have flared over the collision last week of a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol vessels near uninhabited, disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Beijing has harshly criticized Japan's arrest of the fishing captain, saying it could hurt bilateral ties, while Japan has defended its right to hold him custody while they decide whether to charge him with obstructing the coast guard's public duties.
Maehara, a telegenic 48-year-old, has taken a strong stance toward China on the matter, saying China's claims to the islands are illegitimate.
"Territorial problems do not exist in the East China Sea," he told a news conference Tuesday, when he was still transport minister. "We will simply take a rigid and resolute response in order to firmly defend Japan's sovereignty, while we take strict measures based on our domestic law. It's as simple as that."
On Thursday, Maehara flew to southern Ishigaki island, where the arrested Chinese captain is being detained. He inspected patrol boats and visited coast guard personnel to praise their efforts to seize the captain.
Maehara has been known to warn against China's increased military presence in the region, saying in a 2005 speech to fellow members of parliament that "We can control (China's) expansion in its force only if we act firmly and resolutely."
He has called China "a threat," saying that the country has developed missiles capable of reaching Japan and conducted maritime surveys around the Japanese waters. He has also said that deciding whether to establish friendly relations with China would be "Japan's major diplomatic test," highlighting the countries' dispute over undersea gas fields in the East China Sea.
Angered over the collision, China has said it is postponing talks with Tokyo on developing those undersea resources.
"Maehara is probably temperamentally or ideologically not inclined to succumb to Chinese pressure," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. "He'll probably stick to his guns, though I am sure he will try not to further escalate the tension."
An expert in defense and diplomatic issues, Maehara has served on parliamentary and party panels on the U.S-Japan security alliance and other military and strategic issues. He replaces Katsuya Okada, who was moved to the No. 2 post in the ruling party.
Maehara made a splash soon after becoming transport minister last fall by suspending a massive dam project that the Democrats considered a prime example of wasteful public works spending under the long-ruling conservatives whom they overthrew last year.
Despite strong local pleas to keep the project going, Maehara stood firm.
On the spat with China, Kan said Tokyo will take steps firmly under Japanese law and that both countries should make an effort to develop "strategic and mutually beneficial relations."
Associated Press Writer Malcolm Foster contributed to this report.
Riches Trump Glory In China-Japan Spats
“昨年、日本企業は、＄３８２・ビリオン（３８兆２千億円）を中国市場に売っている。実際、中国で売れる自動車のトップを三種の日本車が占めている。日本は中国に直接投資する国では第三番目なのだ。中国経済の成長に、日本のカネと技術は大きな位置を占める。その意味で言えば、尖閣漁船船長逮捕で北京が騒ぐのはバカバカしい。上海万博で日本のセニアが演奏することになっていたが、招待を中止したり。温家宝首相は「日本企業の払う給料は低い」と批判した。日本政府は北京が日本の国債を買うことに頭痛を抱えている。だが、長年の悪感情にも拘わらず、日中経済関係は頑丈になっている。２００５年、反日デモが中国各地で発生した。北京の日本大使館の窓が投石で壊された。だが、日本の対中国直接投資は、その年、最高を記録した”と、WSJの記者は、「日中関係の最大要素は経済関係である」としている。伊勢爺もそう思うが、すると、大声を上げた中国政府は振り上げた拳をどう納めるんだろうね？ これ、どう見ても中国の負けだわな（笑い）。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナ
By JAMES SIMMS And ANDREW PEAPLE
Two headlines appeared in the same week: Nissan Charges Ahead in China; China Suspends Talks With Japan. So much for economic ties leading to better foreign relations.
But will worsening foreign relations affect those economic ties? They haven't in the past.
To Japan, China's markets matter too much: The nation is Japan's biggest two-way trading partner. Japanese companies generated $382 billion in sales there last year, according to trade ministry data. Three of China's top-selling car brands this year are Japanese.
The relationship goes both ways, of course. Japan was the third largest source of foreign direct investment into China last year, Chinese government figures show. Beijing needs that capital and technology to stoke growth.
In that context, much of Beijing's retaliation for the detention of a fisherman by Tokyo has an air of the absurd: It has suspended ticket sales for planned Shanghai performances by an aging Japanese boy-band, for example.
For sure, both Japan and China have more substantial economic issues to resolve. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has criticized the low salaries paid to Chinese workers by Japanese companies. Tokyo has been bothered by China's increased purchases of Japanese government bonds.
But along with China's growth has come the development of an economic relationship that has proved durable despite a long history of animosity. The language might be strong, but it's worth remembering that even in 2005, when relations were last at their nadir—and when stone-throwing protesters broke windows at Tokyo's embassy in Beijing—Japanese investment into China hit a record.
Write to James Simms at email@example.com and Andrew Peaple at firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Reserve won't help, won't explain why
As expected, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee met today, and decided against doing anything further to stimulate the economy. But it's worth reading their news release explaining -- or, more accurately, not explaining -- why.
Paragraph one: Everything is terrible. "The pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months. Household spending is increasing gradually, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software is rising, though less rapidly than earlier in the year, while investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak. Employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. Housing starts are at a depressed level. Bank lending has continued to contract, but at a reduced rate in recent months."
Paragraph two: We admit everything is terrible. In fact, it's so terrible that it means we're failing our mandate. "Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to remain subdued for some time before rising to levels the Committee considers consistent with its mandate."
Paragraph three: We're not going to do anything further to improve the economy. "The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings."
Paragraph four: But that doesn't mean we won't do more at some future date. "The Committee will continue to monitor the economic outlook and financial developments and is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate."
Logically, this does make sense. The Federal Reserve believes that economic conditions are so grim that they're not fulfilling their mandate. They believe that is more they can do, and they warn they might do it soon. Just not yet.
Escaping Double Dip to Growth Recession Means No Jobless Relief
By Rich Miller and Joshua Zumbrun
Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke pulled out all the stops to avert a depression last year. Now he and his colleagues must decide how to respond to the risk of a growth recession in 2011.
The possibility of a sub-par expansion poses a dilemma for the central bank’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee when it meets tomorrow. While the economy isn’t so weak that it’s clearly in need of more monetary stimulus, it may not be strong enough to keep unemployment from increasing.
Twenty seven of 58 economists polled by Bloomberg News this month see growth in 2011 below the 2.5 percent to 2.8 percent pace Fed policy makers peg as the long-term trend. Twenty eight see the jobless rate rising above last month’s 9.6 percent sometime in the next nine months. That combination would constitute a growth recession.
“When you’re in a crisis, your mandate’s a little different and you’re not debating things,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Chicago-based Mesirow Financial Inc., who attended the Fed’s annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last month. “When you’re in the no-man’s-land” of a “post- crisis economy, it’s a lot harder.”
The Fed’s difficulties are compounded by the fact that it has already cut the overnight interbank interest rate to near zero and FOMC members are divided about the costs and benefits of further easing through unconventional policies such as buying more bonds and increasing its $2.3 trillion balance sheet.
The Fed “is more split than I can ever remember,” said Laurence Meyer, a Fed governor from 1996 to 2002 who is now senior managing director of St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers.
While policy makers aren’t likely to adopt any new initiatives at their meeting tomorrow, they probably will announce a major asset-buying program in January, said Ethan Harris, head of developed-markets economic research at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research in New York.
That would push the yield on 10-year Treasury notes below 2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, he said. It stood at 2.74 percent at 4:41 p.m. on Sept. 17 in New York, according to BGCantor Market Data.
Lower yields would make investments in shares of companies that pay dividends more attractive, said Jerry Webman, chief economist and senior investment officer at OppenheimerFunds in New York, which manages more than $155 billion.
“One of the things we’ve been doing is encouraging investors in this environment to look at stocks with rising dividends,” he said.
He pointed to Cisco Systems Inc., which said on Sept. 14 that it plans its first shareholder payout this fiscal year. The San Jose, California-based company is the world’s largest maker of computer-networking equipment.
The late Solomon Fabricant, a professor of economics at New York University, coined the term growth recession to describe an economy that isn’t expanding fast enough to keep unemployment from rising. The minutes of the Fed’s last meeting, on August 10, suggested the central-bank staff didn’t see that happening next year. While lowering its forecast for the balance of 2010, the staff foresaw “a moderate strengthening of the expansion in 2011” that would reduce the jobless rate. Fed officials will present an updated forecast at tomorrow’s meeting.
Growth decelerated to an annualized 1.6 percent in the second quarter from 3.7 percent in the first and 5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the Commerce Department in Washington.
The pace of the expansion “recently appears somewhat less vigorous than we expected,” Bernanke said in an Aug. 27 speech at Jackson Hole. “Although output growth should be stronger next year, resource slack and unemployment seem likely to decline only slowly.”
Continued high joblessness -- the unemployment rate has been at or above 9.5 percent for more than a year -- is taking a toll on the economy and consumer spending.
“Our customer remains challenged,” William Simon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, told a Goldman Sachs global retailing conference in New York on Sept. 15. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has “to figure out how to deal with what is an ever-increasing amount of transactions being paid for with government assistance.
‘‘You need not go farther than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month,’’ Simon said. ‘‘About 11 p.m. customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items -- baby formula, milk, bread, eggs -- and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight when government electronic benefits cards get activated, and then the checkout starts.’’
Job, Skills ‘Mismatch’
Some Fed policy makers have voiced doubts about how much the central bank can do to spur growth and lower unemployment. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota blamed much of the joblessness on ‘‘mismatch problems,’’ with many Americans lacking the skills to fill jobs that are available.
Such problems ‘‘do not strike me as readily amenable to the kinds of monetary-policy tools currently available to the Fed,’’ he said in a Sept. 8 speech in Missoula, Montana.
Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said that he would be reluctant to ease policy further because the economy is constrained by fiscal and regulatory uncertainty. ‘‘Further accommodation might be pushing on a string,’’ he said in a speech on Sept. 1 in Houston.
Bernanke has said the Fed does have the ability to aid the economy, if that’s what’s needed.
‘‘We have the tools to help support economic activity and guard against disinflation,” he told fellow central bankers at Jackson Hole.
The last time the U.S. confronted a growth recession was in 2002-2003, as it struggled to recover from the 2001 contraction. After climbing at a 3.5 percent annual pace in the first quarter of 2002, the economy slowed throughout the year, rising just 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. The jobless rate rose to 6 percent in December from 5.7 percent in January.
The Fed responded by cutting its target for the federal funds rate by a half percentage point in November and by a further quarter point in June of the following year. That left the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans at 1 percent.
With the rate now near zero, the focus of policy has shifted to the balance sheet and the possibility the Fed might add to its holdings of securities, particularly Treasuries.
Such purchases “would be effective in further easing financial conditions,” Bernanke said in Jackson Hole, adding that the extent of the impact isn’t clear.
“Lacking much experience with this option, we do not have very precise knowledge of the quantitative effect of changes in our holdings,” he said.
The central bank’s purchases of securities in 2008 and 2009 may have lowered the yield on 10-year Treasury notes by as much as a half percentage point, based on research by the New York Fed. The effect on the mortgage-backed securities rate was larger, according to the research. In all, the Fed bought $1.75 trillion of securities, including $300 billion in Treasuries.
Future purchases may have less influence on rates, said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed governor who is now a senior economic adviser for the Potomac Research Group in Washington. That’s because such buying seems to have a greater impact at times of heightened stress in financial markets, such as in 2008 and 2009, he said.
While Japan’s asset-buying program from 2001 to 2006 -- so- called quantitative easing -- had a “limited” effect in boosting the economy, it did help dispel concerns about the finances of the country’s banks, according to a July 2006 paper by Bank of Japan official Hiroshi Ugai. Unemployment fell to 4 percent in December 2006 from 4.8 percent in January 2001 after rising as high as 5.5 percent during the six years.
“The Fed doesn’t have the research to ‘‘be confident about the effects’’ of asset purchases on the economy, said David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities in New York. Still, with growth slowing, he predicts it will announce a program tomorrow.
U.S. Stocks Rise as S&P 500 Completes Longest Rally Since April
By Rita Nazareth
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index completing the longest weekly rally since April, as better-than-estimated earnings at technology companies overshadowed an unexpected drop in consumer confidence.
Oracle Corp., the second-largest software maker, surged 8.4 percent after earnings beat estimates. Research In Motion Ltd. rose a fifth straight day, the longest streak since December, after the BlackBerry maker’s forecast topped analysts’ projections. Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co. jumped at least 1.6 percent, leading gains in S&P 500 industrial companies.
The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,125.59 at 4 p.m. in New York and has posted a 1.5 percent gain since Sept. 10, a third straight weekly advance. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 13.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,607.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose an eighth straight day, gaining 0.5 percent to 2,315.61, its longest winning streak since July 2009.
“It’s encouraging to see tech bellwethers coming out with good earnings,” said E. William Stone, who oversees about $103 billion as chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia. “I expect those companies to engage in more buybacks and dividends. That reinforces my view that the market will be higher by year-end.”
The S&P 500 lost 7.5 percent from its 2010 high in April amid mounting evidence of a slowdown in the world’s largest economy. The gauge rose 7.3 percent this month after the drop pushed the index’s valuation to about 12.2 times estimated profits for the next year, near the lowest since March 2009.
Technology companies in the S&P 500 led this week’s advance, climbing 4.4 percent as a group, after a person familiar with the matter said Microsoft Corp. may issue debt in order to return more cash to shareholders and Cisco Systems Inc. said it will begin paying a dividend.
Oracle jumped 8.4 percent to $27.48. Excluding acquisition costs and other expenses, earnings climbed to 42 cents a share last quarter, beating the 37-cent average of projections compiled by Bloomberg. Oracle indicated that sales will be at least $8.4 billion in the current period. Analysts had estimated $8.21 billion.
Research In Motion rose 0.5 percent to $46.72, and earlier climbed as much as 4.8 percent. Revenue this quarter will be as much as $5.55 billion and earnings per share will be as much as $1.70, RIM said in a statement yesterday. Analysts had projected revenue of $4.82 billion and profit of $1.39 a share.
Industrial companies had the biggest gain in the S&P 500 among 10 industries, rising 0.9 percent.
Caterpillar had the biggest gain in the Dow, rising 1.6 percent to $73.18. The largest maker of construction equipment said worldwide retail sales of machines rose 37 percent for the three month period ending Aug. 10. The information was disclosed in a regulatory filing.
Deere rallied 4 percent to $72.45. The world’s largest maker of farm equipment will get Russian government aid for projects that increase production of farm machinery in the country, instead of assembling equipment from components made abroad, President Vladimir Putin said.
Labor Department figures showed that the cost of living in the U.S. climbed in August for a second month, gaining 0.3 percent, as energy and food prices increased while other goods and services showed little change. Excluding volatile food and fuel costs, the so-called core rate was unchanged, compared with a projected gain of 0.1 percent, the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
Benchmark indexes erased a rally in the first half hour of trading after the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary September index of consumer confidence fell to 66.6 from 68.9 a month earlier. The gauge was projected to rise to 70, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The gauge averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began December 2007.
“The market has been so bipolar,” said Keith Wirtz, who oversees $18 billion as chief investment officer at Fifth Third Asset Management Inc. in Cincinnati. “The growth in corporate earnings has been extremely strong. But there’s lack of confidence and the macro picture dominates. It’s been a wild ride this year.”
Financial shares slumped following declines in European banks on concern that Ireland may need international financial assistance. The yield premium investors demand to own Irish 10- year government bonds instead of benchmark German bunds widened to a record 389 basis points as Irish 10-year yields surged 26 basis points to 6.29 percent. Ireland may need to accept external assistance if there are additional financial-sector losses or the economy worsens, Barclays Plc said in a note to investors yesterday.
Portugal also may have to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund to address the problems of external financing, Diario de Noticias reported on its website, citing three former finance ministers Eduardo Catroga, Medina Carreira and Miguel Beleza.
“The signals are still mixed,” said John Carey, Boston- based money-manager at Pioneer Investment Management, which oversees about $230 billion. “People and companies perhaps are not as confident as they should be. There are remaining issues in Europe,” he said. “It’s obviously encouraging to see good earnings, dividends and buybacks from the tech industry. We’re not in a double dip recession, but the recovery is fragile.”
JPMorgan fell 2.3 percent to $40.06, while Bank of America slid 1.1 percent to $13.40. Hewlett-Packard Co. had the biggest decline in the Dow, slumping 3 percent to $39.14. The largest computer maker’s board is nearing a decision on a successor to Mark Hurd as chief executive officer, and is leaning toward picking an internal candidate, according to a person familiar with the matter.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rita Nazareth in New York at email@example.com.
Last Updated: September 17, 2010 17:04 EDT
Bernanke Shadow of Easing Limits BOJ Success With Yen
中国は人民元を不当に低く抑えていると非難を受け～日銀の円売り介入も非難されている。為替は輸出・輸入のバランスを変える最大の要因である。輸出が増進すれば、雇用に繋がるからだ。中国の輸出はその低いRMBがベース。デフレから脱却できない日本は、円を売りたい。だが、莫大な通貨量の米ドルの増刷をバーナンキ連銀議長は考えている。つまり、各国が通貨を下げたいのだ。私見だが、日本のデフレは、「内需」の喚起で脱出できると考えるのだが。日本人、勇気を出せ！ 伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナ
By Ron Harui and Joshua Zumbrun
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa’s success in weakening the yen may hinge on Ben S. Bernanke.
Japan said two days ago it sold yen for the first time since 2004 because the currency’s surge to a 15-year high versus the dollar imperiled the nation’s export-led recovery. Meantime, pressure is growing on U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to print more dollars to bolster America’s flagging economy, a policy that contributed to a weaker greenback in 2009.
“Because of speculation of further monetary easing by the Fed, it may be impossible for Japan alone to turn around the yen-appreciation trend” through unilateral currency intervention, said Hiroaki Muto, a senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. The firm is a unit of Japan’s third-largest banking group.
Governments around the world are counting on relatively weak currencies to help bolster exports and keep their own economic recoveries afloat. Recent developments indicate global growth “has slowed somewhat,” John Lipsky, the second-highest ranking official of the International Monetary Fund, said in a Sept. 15 speech in New York.
Japan’s move, which sent it down 3.3 percent against the dollar and 3.4 percent versus the euro, drew a rebuke from Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs meetings of euro-region finance ministers.
Juncker said in an interview in Brussels yesterday that the group was “insisting” Japanese authorities “step back from unilateral interventions.” His comments came the same day the European Union’s statistics office said the region’s exports fell in July for the first time in three months.
“Very few countries right now want a strong currency,” Ray Farris, the London-based head of foreign-exchange strategy at Credit Suisse Group AG, said in an interview in Tokyo. “The U.S. might talk about having strong currency policy, but reality is that the U.S. government, President Obama in particular, has made it clear that he sees export growth as part of the adjustment process in the United States.”
Barack Obama’s administration formed the Export Council in March with the goal of doubling U.S. exports to about $3.1 trillion by 2015, supporting 2 million additional jobs.
“The more American companies export, the more they produce,” Obama said yesterday after meeting with the group at the White House. “And the more they produce, the more people they hire and that means more jobs -- good jobs that often pay as much as 15 percent more than average.”
Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda defended his decision to intervene in currency markets after the move spurred criticism from policy makers in the U.S. and Europe.
“I’m aware of the various comments, but with deflation, our economy is in a severe situation and it’s undesirable that the strong yen be prolonged,” Noda said today. “I think it’s important to explain that persistently to other nations.”
Growth in Japan’s economy slowed to a 1.5 percent annual pace last quarter, from 5 percent in the first three months of the year. Consumer confidence reached a four-month low in August, and the government this week revised its July industrial output figures to show that production fell rather than gained.
Trade accounted for more than half of Japan’s expansion in the second quarter, highlighting the threat of a stronger yen. Japanese exporters said they can remain profitable as long as the yen trades at 92.90 per dollar or weaker, according to a Cabinet Office report released in February.
The currency strengthened to 82.88 to the dollar, the strongest since May 1995, before the BOJ stepped into the foreign-exchange market by purchasing and selling currencies to influence prices. A day earlier, Prime Minister Naoto Kan won re-election as head of the ruling party, beating a challenger who had insisted intervention was necessary. The yen traded at 85.79 at 11:54 a.m. in Tokyo today.
“I’m guessing the Bank of Japan is being defensive, rather than offensive,” said Derek Halpenny, the European head of global currency research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London. “Japan is in dire straits in terms of trying to get sustainable growth going again and getting rid of deflation, and having a stronger currency in nominal terms is deflationary. That’s the policy incentive to what they’ve done.”
The Fed is also trying to avoid deflation. U.S. consumer prices, excluding food and energy, rose 0.9 percent in July from a year earlier, the smallest increase in four decades.
New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the most profitable securities firm, and Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, both predict the Fed will drive down borrowing costs by purchasing more fixed-income securities. The move, known as quantitative easing, pumps cash into the economy.
“While the intervention has been effective in the near term, the direction of dollar-yen is ultimately dependent on U.S. yields, which remain under downward pressure and are continuing to weigh on the greenback,” said David Forrester, a currency economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore.
The Fed bought more than $1.7 trillion in housing debt and Treasury securities last year, contributing to a 10.2 percent drop in the dollar, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Currency Indexes. The central bank said last month it would reinvest the proceeds from its holdings of mortgage-backed securities into Treasuries.
“Should further action prove necessary, policy options are available to provide additional stimulus,” Bernanke said at a gathering of central bank officials and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Aug. 27.
Further Fed purchases won’t be a key determinant of the exchange rate between Japan and the U.S., according to economists Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics and Barry Eichengreen at the University of California at Berkeley.
“I have to say that loose monetary policies are not what’s driving the currency any place in the world,” Weinberg, who is based in Valhalla, New York, said.
The economies of both Japan and the U.S. would benefit from another round of quantitative easing, said Eichengreen.
“People are viewing this as a conflict between the U.S. and Japan, but if our policy would otherwise push up the yen a little bit and thereby cause more deflation there, they can offset that by printing a few more yen, which again costs them nothing, has no negative side effects,” Eichengreen said. “I don’t see any incompatibility between the two policies.”
The Bank of Japan is scheduled to meet on monetary policy Oct. 4-5. They made an emergency decision on Aug. 30 to add 10 trillion yen ($116 billion) to a credit program, bringing it to 30 trillion yen. The bank kept the benchmark overnight lending rate at 0.1 percent and its monthly target for government bond purchases at 1.8 trillion yen.
Japan hadn’t intervened in the currency market since March 2004, when the yen traded at about 109 per dollar. The Bank of Japan, acting on behest of the Ministry of Finance, sold 14.8 trillion yen in the first three months of 2004 following record sales of 20.4 trillion yen in 2003.
The action failed to keep the currency from rising to 102.63 to the dollar by the end of that year.
Unilateral intervention by the Swiss National Bank couldn’t prevent the franc from appreciating to a record high against the euro this year and reaching parity with the dollar.
The Swiss franc strengthened to a record level of 1.2766 per euro on Sept. 9 after the Swiss National Bank abandoned attempts to weaken the currency. The franc and the yen tend to strengthen during periods of financial stress because their export-reliant economies don’t need foreign capital to balance current accounts -- the broadest measure of trade.
Exports accounted for more than half Switzerland’s gross domestic product last quarter, compared with 13 percent in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The yen and franc appreciated the most on a relative basis after Fed efforts from December 2007 to March 2009 to jumpstart the economy expanded the central bank’s balance sheet by as much as $1.15 trillion, a Barclays analysis of 17 exchange-rate pairs shows.
The study examined currency responses to Fed decisions as a means of assessing the likely reaction to quantitative easing. They found the yen and franc tended to outperform before and after the decisions. Emerging-market currencies did worse.
The yen rallied as much as 14 percent against the dollar in the nine months following the Fed’s announcement of quantitative easing on March 18, 2009. The biggest loser was the greenback. The Dollar Index, a gauge of the currency against the euro, yen, pound, franc, Swedish krona and Canadian dollar, weakened as much as 15 percent.
Japan runs the risk of being ostracized by other governments if it continues to intervene, similar to the criticism China has drawn for not allowing its currency to strengthen at a faster pace, according to Mitsuru Saito, the chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co.
“It may bear the brunt of international criticism and risks being named a currency manipulator, just as China has been labeled,” Saito said. “Japan’s solo intervention isn’t a quick-fix for the economy, and its effect on the market can easily be wiped out by additional easing from the Fed, which seems to be preparing for it.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Ron Harui in Singapore at firstname.lastname@example.org; Joshua Zumbrun in Washington at email@example.com
Last Updated: September 16, 2010 23:00 EDT
Tokyo's Yen Shift Poses Trader Puzzle
By RICHARD BARLEY And SIMON NIXON
How should investors respond to Japan's surprise intervention to curb the strength of the yen? That depends largely on whether the intervention turns out to be a political gesture, limited to the roughly two trillion yen ($23 billion) so far spent, or something more like the 2003-2004 intervention, when the Ministry of Finance intervened to the tune of 35 trillion yen.
Western policy makers, believing the exercise to be misguided and potentially damaging, hope for the former, but Tokyo certainly has room in its budget plans to fund a bigger program.
In the foreign-exchange markets, the initial impact on exchange rates other than the dollar-yen has been limited. While the yen has fallen 3.3% against the dollar, the dollar hasn't gained against other currencies. But if the yen is no longer a one-way trade, investors could switch to commodity currencies like the Australian dollar, says BNP Paribas. If dollar weakness causes emerging currencies to gain, the risk is that central banks elsewhere in Asia and Latin America also intervene to stem currency appreciation.
Tokyo's move also is likely to affect fixed-income markets, particularly as the Bank of Japan seems intent on leaving the funds in the market, making this intervention a form of quantitative easing as well. Japanese government-bond yields fell Wednesday and could fall further if more liquidity floods into the market. But it will be crucial to watch Japanese fiscal policy, because further quantitative easing could increase sovereign credit risk. Japanese sovereign credit-default-swap prices have so far remained flat at 0.67 percentage point.
Of course, it is possible a lower yen will succeed in boosting Japanese exporters, which over time will be reflected in investors switching out of bonds into stocks. But exports have never been Japan's problem: The real issue is the lack of domestic demand. And on that score, Tokyo's intervention, by reducing the value of domestic earnings, may be self-defeating. That would point to Japan's actions being a political gesture, albeit a futile one. Tokyo's rhetoric suggests otherwise.
On Yen, Tokyo Should Go Big or Go Home
By JAMES SIMMS
Is Tokyo going to take a firehose to a fight with a tsunami?
The Japanese government on Wednesday ended a six-year moratorium on intervention in currency markets, selling the yen in an effort to reverse its recent rise. The move had an immediate effect: The greenback jumped from a 15-year low of 82.87 yen to above 85 yen in a matter of hours.
Chalk that up to the element of surprise, rather than a reassessment of bullish attitudes toward the currency. Nomura Securities, for example, left its forecast for the fiscal-year-end rate unchanged at 80 yen per dollar. To alter such staunch attitudes, Japan has to prove it is willing to intervene on a far bigger scale than the last time it was in the market.
Since 2004, the daily volume of trading in dollar-yen has risen 73%, Bank of International Settlements data shows. By April of this year, average daily volume stood at $568 billion, more than Japan spent over the fifteen months —in 2003 and 2004—of its last intervention.
Even if Tokyo expands the scale of its intervention, it will find its efforts spoiled if the U.S. Federal Reserve undertakes a second round of quantitative easing, to drive down interest rates in an effort to stave off deflation and economic slowdown. Already, the sharp fall in U.S. interest rates has been one contributor to the yen's strength: Japanese investors have little incentive to keep their money in U.S. assets that are yielding little more than those in Japan.
It could help that the Bank of Japan on Wednesday chose to leave the byproduct of its intervention—newly printed yen—in the banking system. Continuing to do so might have a similar effect on Japanese interest rates that quantitative easing will on those in the U.S.
But politics could complicate any massive intervention by Japan. Six years ago, President George Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had a tight relationship, in no small part thanks to Koizumi's unusually swift support of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Today, the two capitals are on different wavelengths: Tokyo's recent foundering on a promise to relocate a U.S. military facility in Japan has hurt ties, and supporting Japan's efforts to weaken the yen would undermine the Obama administration's goal to double U.S. exports and to push China to strengthen its currency.
Yen bulls did get hosed on Wednesday, but they may yet get their revenge on a far greater scale.
By ANDREW PEAPLE
When it comes to exchange-rate policy, Beijing is walking a tightrope. And the trick is getting harder to pull off.
Beijing also doesn't want traders to see the yuan's path as a one-way bet, which it worries will encourage hot money inflows into Chinese markets. Above, the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, in Beijing
.Consider the yuan's path against the U.S. dollar since June 19, when China's central bank announced plans to allow greater exchange-rate flexibility. The Chinese currency has been allowed to tick upward in the past two trading days, on Monday reaching its highest level against the greenback since major currency reforms in 1994. Economic fundamentals, particularly China's large balance-of-payments surpluses, mean the yuan should be set in one direction only: further appreciation against the dollar.
Yet Beijing also doesn't want traders to see the yuan's path as a one-way bet, which it worries will encourage hot money inflows into Chinese markets. So, holding back the much-needed rise, the central bank in the past three months has also set the official yuan-dollar exchange rate lower from day to day.
Then there is the struggle to maintain the facade that China has moved to a system of referencing the yuan against a basket of currencies. Reality suggests that for the yuan, there is still only one other currency in town. Citi Investment Research says that, despite the more flexible regime, the yuan "is still referencing the dollar rather than other currencies," meaning its path for the rest of the year will mostly depend on how the greenback does.
Beijing's task also includes having to convince a domestic audience that it isn't being pushed around by foreigners on currency policy, while knowing its choices are putting a strain on relations with other countries. Ahead of midterm elections, members of the U.S. Congress are raising their rhetoric about too-tardy yuan appreciation, and hostile trade legislation toward China isn't out of the question this autumn. White House officials, who want to avoid a trade war with China, are finding it harder to hold the line that patience with Beijing is the best approach.
Strong Chinese economic data for August will at least help Beijing save some face at home by suggesting a rise in the yuan now reflects the Chinese economy's continuing strength rather than bowing to foreign pressure. To maintain a currency policy that it is all things to all people, Beijing is going to need even more good fortune.
China demands Japan release detained boat captain
By SCOTT McDONALD
The Associated Press
Friday, September 10, 2010; 10:33 PM
BEIJING -- China's foreign minister demanded that Tokyo immediately release the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that collided with two Japanese patrol vessels near disputed islands. But a Japanese court ruled he can be held 10 more days, deepening the diplomatic spat.
Yang Jiechi made the demand Friday to Ambassador Uichrio Niwa after the Japanese envoy was summoned for the third time over the crash.
Hours after Yang's protest, a Japanese court allowed prosecutors to keep the captain in custody until Sept. 19 before deciding whether to press charges against him, Naha District Court spokesman Yasuhide Yamashiro said.
Late Friday, China announced that it was postponing talks scheduled earlier with Japan on the East China Sea issue in a sign of its anger. The talks, scheduled for mid-September, would have been the second governmental meeting over the territorial disputes in that area.
"The Japanese side has ignored China's repeated solemn representations and firm opposition, and obstinately decided to put the Chinese captain under the so-called judiciary procedures. China expresses strong discontent and grave protest to the move," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
"Japan will reap as it has sown, if it continues to act recklessly," she warned.
China has said the confrontation could damage its relations with Japan, showing the sensitivity of the territorial dispute, one of several that trouble China's ties with its Asian neighbors. As the robust Chinese economy's demand for resources grows, Beijing's commercial ships are venturing farther from shore and its more powerful navy is enforcing claims in disputed waters.
The collisions occurred Tuesday after the Chinese fishing boat ignored warnings from the patrol vessels to leave the area and then refused to stop for an inspection, Japan's coast guard said.
The incident happened off Japan's Kuba island, just north of disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. The islands, about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of Taiwan, are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
Yang told Niwa that captain Zhan Qixiong, his crew and boat had to be freed immediately, a ministry statement said.
In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told a news conference Friday that it was regrettable that Niwa had been summoned by Yang.
"We are only taking proper steps based on law because there was an alleged obstruction of public duties in our territorial waters," Okada said.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said it was "absurd, illegal and invalid" for Japan to be applying its domestic laws to the case.
The spat has stirred nationalistic passions in China, with newspapers and activists calling for a tough stand against any threats to China's territorial claims.
"It is our territory and we're entitled to exercise sovereignty," said Sun Peng, a 32-year-old software developer in Shanghai who has campaigned against Japan.
Sun said diplomatic efforts with Japan were a waste of time.
Japan's coast guard has said Zhan could be released in a few days if he accepts the allegation that he obstructed public duties, resulting in the collision, and pays a fine. If not, he would likely have to stand trial.
The other 14 crew members have remained on the fishing boat, the coast guard said. They cannot land in Japan because they do not have passports but are free to return home if China sends a vessel to pick them up, it said.
Last month, a Chinese survey ship allegedly entered Japan's disputed exclusive economic zone without prior notification, breaking a previous agreement between the countries. In April, a Chinese helicopter came within 300 feet (90 meters) of a Japanese military monitoring vessel in the vicinity of a Chinese naval exercise.
Associated Press Writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Unemployment in U.S. May Rise Toward 10% on ‘Feeble’ Growth
Timothy R. Homan
Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The jobless rate in the U.S. is likely to approach 10 percent in coming months as the economy fails to grow quickly enough to employ people rejoining the labor force, according to economists at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research and Morgan Stanley.
Private payrolls climbed 67,000 in August, after a gain of 107,000 the previous month, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent, Labor Department figures showed Sept. 3. The economy expanded at a 1.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter, down from 3.7 percent in January through March.
Employers including government agencies have added 723,000 workers to payrolls so far in 2010, showing it’ll take years to recoup the 8.4 million jobs lost during the recession, the biggest employment slump in the post-World War II era. Still, the August employment report eased concerns the economy will falter and may postpone action by Federal Reserve policy makers aimed at bolstering the recovery.
“Growth is too sluggish to successfully bring down the unemployment rate,” said Michelle Meyer, a senior economist at BofA Merrill Lynch in New York. “At this stage, about one year into the recovery, this was still quite feeble job growth.”
BofA Merrill Lynch says the jobless rate will peak at 10.1 percent next year, up from a previous projection of 9.5 percent, with growth slowing to 1.8 percent for all of 2011, down from an earlier estimate of 2.3 percent.
The employment report, together with figures last week showing manufacturing expanded faster than forecast in August, reduces the odds that the Federal Open Market Committee will ease policy at its next meeting on Sept. 21, economists said. The data also bolstered Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s view that the conditions are in place for a pickup in growth in 2011.
Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse in New York, said in a Sept. 3 note to clients that the economy will expand at a 2 percent rate this quarter, compared with a previous projection of 2.5 percent. He also revised his forecast for the unemployment rate, saying it will end the year at 9.6 percent instead of 9.2 percent.
Unemployment, which reached a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October, will average more than 9 percent through 2011, according to a Bloomberg News survey last month.
President Barack Obama yesterday proposed spending at least $50 billion to rehabilitate the nation’s transportation infrastructure to help spur the economy.
At a Labor Day rally in Milwaukee two months before midterm congressional elections, Obama called for a six-year program to fix roads, railways and runways, and to modernize the air- traffic control system.
“All of this will not only create jobs now, but will make our economy run better over the long haul,” Obama said.
The president will also urge Congress to permanently extend and expand a research-and-development tax credit for businesses, according to two administration officials. The plan, which he’ll announce in Cleveland tomorrow, would cost about $100 billion over a decade.
Obama’s approval ratings have slipped and support for the Republican Party has grown during the summer months amid signs the economy was cooling. A USA Today/Gallup Poll completed Aug. 30 found Americans believe Republicans in Congress would do a better job on the economy than Democrats, by 49 percent versus 38 percent plurality.
Overall employment, including government agencies, fell 54,000 for a second month, the Labor Department report showed. The decrease reflected a 114,000 drop in temporary workers hired by the government to conduct the 2010 census.
Census Winds Down
The unwinding of census employment distorts the payroll figures for months as the government dismisses workers as the count winds down. For that reason, economists say private payrolls, which exclude government jobs, are a better gauge of the state of the labor market.
U.S. Stocks rose and Treasuries fell following the Sept. 3 employment report. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index rose 1.3 percent to close at 1,104.51 in New York. Ten-year Treasury yields climbed to 2.71 percent from 2.63 percent the day before.
Economists at Morgan Stanley in New York, led by Richard Berner and David Greenlaw, are forecasting growth at a 2 percent pace for the last three quarters of 2010.
“Such tepid growth implies a higher unemployment rate at year-end, perhaps 9.7 percent rather than the 9.4 percent we had assumed,” the economists said in a research note.
The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- increased to 16.7 percent in August from 16.5 percent.
The figures also showed long-term unemployment dropped. The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more fell as a percentage of all jobless to 42 percent from 44.9 percent.
Some export-oriented companies are boosting staff as the global economy shows stronger signs of growth than the U.S. Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of construction equipment, said last month it may add as many as 9,000 workers worldwide this year as sales climb in developing markets.
Yen Rise Gets No Relief as Traders Take Bets on Bernanke Quantitative Ease Growing pressure on the Federal Reserve to print more money to bolster the U.S. economy will likely boost the yen and franc just as the Japanese and Swiss governments seek weaker currencies, if history is a guide.