China and India lose their appeal for investors on inflation fears

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Fund managers are still super-bullish on Russia, betting that the energy boom has life yet. A net 62pc are overweight oil and gas shares. The most hated trio are travel and leisure (-66), banks (-62) and property (-60).

Karen Olney, Merrill’s European equity strategist, said oil is nearing its cycle peak. “Is the trade too crowded? Probably. As long as fundamentals remain strong, we retain our overweight stance,” she said.

“The burning question is when to sell oil companies and move back to banks.

“We resist the temptation. The time is nearer when inflation rolls over, towards the end of this year and certainly into 2009.”

A record number (net 29pc) are now underweight on European equities; many have switched into cash as they wait for the European Central Bank to inflict punishment – ever more likely after eurozone inflation reached an all-time high of 3.7pc in May.

The ECB’s chief economist, Jurgen Stark, said yesterday that the price spike was a “cause for alarm”.

Mr Bowers said Europe is now facing a triple whammy as the downturn in global export markets combines with a strong euro and a monetary squeeze.

“Eurozone retail sales have been worse than in the US on a year-on-year basis and eurozone GDP growth has also been worse,” he said. “If you look at Spain and Italy, and even France, they are very weak.

“The Fed has eased dramatically, but the ECB hasn’t eased at all. It intends to tighten regardless of the consequences on growth. This is what is eating away at confidence in Europe,” he said.

Merrill Lynch said fund managers were belatedly adapting to a global inflation shock that poses a serious danger to asset prices, and risks setting off “civil protest” in Argentina, Indonesia, South Africa and the Gulf states.

As the new story unfolds, America is coming back into favour, emerging as a sort of safe haven in a fast-changing world where trusted institutions command a premium. Investors are quietly rotating back into Wall Street – despite a chorus of pessimists. A net 23pc are overweight US equities, the highest since August 2001.

The long awaited “decoupling” has begun.

The United States looks like the winner after all.

The cost of food: facts and figures

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Explore the facts and figures behind the rising price of food across the globe.

The World Bank has announced emergency measures to tackle rising food prices around the world.

World Bank head Robert Zoellick warned that 100 million people in poor countries could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiralling prices.

The crisis has sparked recent food riots in several countries including Haiti, the Philippines and Egypt.

The World Bank endorsed Mr Zoellick’s “new deal” action plan for a long-term boost to agricultural production.

Emergency help would include an additional $10m (£5m) to Haiti, where several people were killed in food riots last week, and a doubling of agricultural loans to African farmers.

Starvation risk

Mr Zoellick’s proposals were endorsed by the World Bank’s steering committee of finance and development ministers at a meeting in Washington.

We have to put our money where our mouth is now so that we can put food into hungry mouths
Robert Zoellick
World Bank head

The World Bank and its sister organisation, the IMF, have held a weekend of meetings that addressed rising food and energy prices as well as the credit crisis upsetting global financial markets.

The leader of the International Monetary Fund last week said hundreds of thousands of people were at risk of starvation because of food shortages.

Prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by increased demand, poor weather in some countries that has ruined crops and reduced production area, thanks to an increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels.

The price of staple crops such as wheat, rice and corn have all risen, leading to an increase in overall food prices of 83% in the last three years, the World Bank has said.

Wheat: 130%
Soya: 87%
Rice: 74%
Corn: 31%
Time: Year to March 2008
Source: Bloomberg

The sharp rises have led to protests and unrest in many countries, including Egypt, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

In Haiti, protests last week turned violent, leading to the deaths of five people and the fall of the government.

Restrictions on rice exports have been put in place in major producing countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Egypt.

Importers such as Bangladesh, the Philippines and Afghanistan have been hit hard.

Rich urged to act

“We have to put our money where our mouth is now so that we can put food into hungry mouths,” Mr Zoellick said. “It’s as stark as that.”

He called for more aid to provide food to needy people in poor countries and help for small farmers. He said the World Bank was working to provide money for seeds for planting in the new season.

He also urged wealthy donor countries to quickly fill the World Food Programme’s estimated $500m (£250m) funding shortfall.

Mr Zoellick’s “New Deal for Global Food Policy” also seeks to boost agricultural policy in poor countries in the longer-term.

On Saturday, the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, warned of mass starvation and other dire consequences if food prices continued to rise sharply.

“As we know, learning from the past, those kind of questions sometimes end in war,” he said.

He said the problem could lead to trade imbalances that may eventually affect developed nations, “so it is not only a humanitarian question”.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/04/14 11:02:54 GMT

Iran, China and Russia vs. America, Israel – Who will Win?

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A Three Step Plan to Usher in the Amero

1. Create a Financial Problemsub-prime mortgage fiasco, housing market collapse, recession, trillions of dollars in debt, uncontrolled military spending, federal reserve private banking monopoly engineered economics, Iran and Russia to form an OPEC like cartel to sell gas to China and India with trading done and prices pegged to the Russian Ruble, Neo-Cons boosting of impending financial crisis, keep dumping Chinese made goods in the usa and further erode the manufacturing base

2. Predictable Reactionpeople go nuts, economy tanks, stock markets lose confidence, everyone starts to dump the dollar, governments intervene to prevent the run on the dollar and the banks, china iran and russia come out stronger and portrayed as the cause of the problem and the enemy

3. Offer the Solution – American government offers the solution to solve the problem, The North American Union is formally introduced to the half asleep Americans, Amero replaces the dollar as the single north American wide currency, American economy now to fully exploit the cheap Mexican labor plus the cheap Canadian natural resources this solution offered as the perfect new troika, everything going according to plan, neo-cons further their agenda to eventually replace the Amero with the cashless micro-chip based society where rights and freedoms are things of the past

It’s the classic Problem, Reaction, Solution – the Hegelian model for a new world order and new one world government run out of Jerusalem.

    Extremists try to close Mumbai’s open arms

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    By Anand Giridharadas, IHT
    Monday, February 11, 2008

    MUMBAI: It was just another cosmopolitan Sunday in this city by the sea.Tie-clad men and women in floral hats, dressed like English gentry at Ascot, streamed into the race course in Mumbai for the Indian Derby. They air-kissed. They sipped Champagne. They ogled visiting Brazilian samba dancers. Then they settled into their seats to watch a colt named Hotstepper gallop to victory and a $200,000 prize.

    But as many of them returned to the suburbs on the afternoon of Feb. 3, they bumped into a traffic jam whose origins could not have been more remote from the glamorous, globalized Mumbai they inhabit. The roads had clogged because squads of local political cadres were beating migrants from northern India in the latest explosion of nativist violence in this city, inspired on this occasion by a rightist politician named Raj Thackeray.

    Mumbai is a city of open arms. More than any other South Asian city, it has lured Muslims, Jews, Christians, Parsees and Hindus, aspiring taxi drivers and wannabe actresses, and melted them into an industrious whole. In a certain elite realm, freedom reigns; women dance on tables in nightclubs, and gays and lesbians flock once a month to a rather uncloseted party called Gay Bombay.

    But Mumbai is also, today, teetering between its tradition of liberality and new tendencies toward intolerance.

    In recent years, activists have driven into exile famous artists who offend them, closed down museum exhibitions and agitated to have movies banned. A minority of upper-caste Hindus has lobbied to cordon off whole sections of Mumbai as vegetarian zones, effectively excluding Muslims. And now politicians have revived a perennial cause: ridding Mumbai of migrants.

    “There is increasing evidence that the pluralist foundations of this country, which are guaranteed by the Constitution, are being subverted by narrow-minded, sectarian zealots,” Jug Suraiya, one of the most widely read columnists in India, wrote last week.

    In recent weeks, Thackeray, a Hindu nationalist politician, has made a series of inflammatory statements against migrants from northern India, faulting them for not learning the local language of Marathi or adopting the customs of Maharashtra State. “Even if the whole world opposes my stand, I and my party will continue the struggle to protect Marathi culture, Maharashtrian people, and will trample the goondaism of U.P. and Bihar,” Thackeray wrote in an editorial published Saturday in a Marathi-language newspaper. (Goondaism roughly means gangsterism; Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are northern states.)

    Thackeray’s message appeals to some young, underemployed “sons of the soil,” as they call themselves, who regard north Indian migrants as depressing their wages and strangling their culture. Many young party activists in Thackeray’s party apparently took his recent statements to heart.

    Starting Feb. 3, they went on a rampage in Mumbai for several days, beating up taxi drivers (most of whom are from northern India), roughing up migrant street vendors and attacking a cinema playing films from the north. Some drove past a bungalow owned by Amitabh Bachchan, a Bollywood megastar originally from northern India, and threw glass bottles at it. (Although the party said the activists were acting without its approval, some of its senior officials were arrested, as were several of the activists themselves.)

    Politicians in Mumbai and the north have condemned the violence, as have many ordinary citizens of Mumbai.

    The Mumbai Mirror, a local English-language newspaper, surveyed Mumbai residents’ opinions and found widespread anxiety that the “city’s composite culture is facing a threat.”

    “The pity is, this decimal percent – intolerant, disinterested in dialogue, brazen violators of law – has come to dictate our public life,” Shoma Chaudhury, a well-known journalist, wrote in the Indian magazine Tehelka a few weeks before the Mumbai attacks began.

    Chaudhury was writing about the self-imposed exile of M.F. Husain, a painter from Mumbai who many consider the Picasso of India but who lives in Dubai because some Indians are offended by his nude depictions of Hindu goddesses. Hindu religious activists have filed court cases against Husain over his paintings, obtaining warrants for his arrest.

    Similar pressures have dogged other celebrities of late. Salman Rushdie, who now moves freely around the West after the lifting of the Iranian bounty on his head, still faces threats in his native India.

    Sania Mirza, the highest-ranked Indian tennis player, has stopped playing in tournaments in her own country; extremists, she says, jeopardize her safety every time she does so, objecting to her short skirts, among other alleged sins.

    It is increasingly common across India for a movie that offends a single group of people to be banned altogether. “The Da Vinci Code” was banned in some states for offending India’s tiny Christian minority, even though it was screened freely in the overwhelmingly Christian countries of the West.

    Here in Mumbai, the rising intolerance is visible in a new segregation by diet. More than ever before, whole buildings and neighborhoods are declaring themselves vegetarian, off-limits to egg sellers, meat-serving restaurants and Muslim tenants, whose cuisine is typically centered on meat. Even Marine Drive, the city’s most popular tourist destination, is virtually free of meat and alcohol.

    Gautam Adhikari, the editorial page editor of the influential Times of India newspaper, recalls munching hamburgers and sipping beer with his family overlooking Marine Drive decades ago. That is impossible today.

    He worries that a new generation of Indians, while thriving economically, is regressing culturally, obsessed with personal success and unmindful of civic ideals like “live and let live.”

    “Unless you get that,” he said, “it’s difficult to create a modern, urban society.”