Global business confidence at five-year low; Asean’s youth advantage; India’s women detective agencies

1 Global business confidence at five-year low (BBC) Global business confidence slipped to five-year low in October, according to a survey of 6,100 companies. The number of firms that expect business activity to be higher in the year ahead exceeded those that expected a decline by about 28%. But, that net balance was lower than 39% in June and the lowest since the Markit Global Business Outlook Survey began in 2009. Hiring and investment plans also dipped to post financial crisis lows.

The decline in optimism among businesses was due to a growing list of worries, according to the report. Fears of a renewed downturn in the eurozone, the prospect of higher interest rates in the UK and US next year, along with geo-political risks from crises in Ukraine and the Middle East have all dented business confidence across the globe.

Russia was the biggest concern among the leading countries as “sanctions, a spiralling currency and uncertainty drove business expectations down sharply to a new low”. On the bright side, UK companies were the most upbeat about the year ahead out of all the major countries surveyed in October. On the downside was a surprise downturn in the US, where optimism hit a new survey low as the service sector saw a “dramatic” decline.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30172951

2 Asean’s youth advantage (Muhamed Hazali Abu Hassan in Straits Times) Asean is nearing its half-century milestone with quite a few notches under its belt, while facing new challenges with regard to its uniquely young demographic.

Moving forward, the grouping’s main challenges lie distinctly in fulfilling the hopes and dreams of its youth. One similarity all Asean nations have is our youth bulge. According to a 2012 Credit Suisse report – “Asean’s positive demographics underpin stable growth” – the median age for all Asean nations is below 40. This trend is expected to continue well until 2035. Malaysia, for example, has a median age of 25.1 while Indonesia’s is 27.9.

When there are many young people and they are provided employment or business opportunities, the country will experience a “demographic dividend” – a situation where people actively participating in the economy outnumber those who are dependent on it. However, if their needs are not addressed, the youth bulge will become a “demographic bomb” as a large mass of frustrated young people is likely to become a source of social and political instability.

Asean’s young people have consistently been vocal about finding non-material achievements. It is no longer enough to be financially or physically successful – it is also a question of how they get there. While gross domestic product is a direct measure of a country’s wealth, it is equally important that the people are able to find happiness in this community. This means a solid value system as well as job satisfaction from work that is individually fulfilling.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/aseans-youth-advantage-20141124

3 India’s women detective agencies (Snigdha Poonam in The Guardian) Bhavna Paliwal, Delhi’s self-anointed “commander of detectives” is Delhi’s most famous private detective. She’s also the most colourful. In 2003, she started her detective outfit, Tejas Detective Agency. Private investigation is technically illegal in India, and working from unidentified locations is common.

She lords it over matrimonial investigations. “I get three to four calls a day, sometimes more,” she says. The rate for a prematrimonial assignment – discovering the details of “salary, character, family status, and, if it’s a man, whether he drinks, smokes, gambles” – ranges from 50,000 to 150,000 rupees (£510-£1,530). The rate for cases involving married couples depends on the nature of the job, and can run into millions of rupees.

Paliwal’s success as a matrimonial detective is directly proportional to the failure of urban Indian marriage. She’s quick to point out a game-changing factor, though: “Earlier, the cheating was one-sided. Now it’s two-sided.” The culprit, she says, is technology: “Most people who come to me have been married for eight to 10 years. Their marriages were going fine, but they started copying youngsters and got into the habit of Facebook, WhatsApp. Many of them go too far into it, ruining their families.”

There were a handful of female detectives working in Delhi when Paliwal started out, but now women are a dominant presence. A basic internet search for female detectives in Delhi throws up a glut of agencies. Does their work make them cynical about marriage? None admit to it, but all the female detectives I speak to say they continue to be surprised by the games partners played in relationships.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/23/indian-ladies-detective-agencies-cheating-social-media

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China factory output shrinks; UK Royal Mail faces Amazon threat; Why Indians flock to gurus

1 China factory output shrinks (Straits Times) Growth in China’s immense factory sector stalled in November, with output contracting for the first time in six months, a private survey has shown, adding to signs that the world’s second-largest economy may still be losing traction.

The flash HSBC/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to a six-month low of 50.0 from a final reading of 50.4 in October and well below the 50.3 reading forecast by analysts.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 points to contraction on a monthly basis. The factory output sub-index fell to 49.5, the first contraction since May.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/business/economy/story/chinas-factory-output-shrinks-first-time-6-months-private-survey-shows-2

2 UK Royal Mail faces Amazon threat (Julia Kollewe & Graeme Wearden in The Guardian) Royal Mail has warned that growing competition from Amazon will hit its UK parcels business, as it reported a 21% fall in first-half profits.

The 500-year-old postal service, which was privatised last October, said operating profits before transformation costs fell to £279m in the six months to 28 September. The figure was at the top end of analysts’ forecasts. Revenues rose 2% to £4.5bn.

While the results were not as weak as feared, the outlook for the parcel market is worse and took the City by surprise. The group said Amazon’s own delivery service would cut the annual rate of growth in the UK parcels market to 1-2% for the next two years. This is half the 4% growth expected for this year. Last month, Amazon launched a same-day delivery service which allows customers to collect items from local newsagents and high street shops, through a tie-up with the distribution group Smiths News.

Jefferies analyst David Kerstens said: “This implies parcel revenues would remain at best stable, which compares to our assumption of 2% parcel revenue growth and compared to double-digit parcel revenue growth historically.”

The parcels business is Royal Mail’s main area of growth as online shopping makes up for the decline in letters due to the shift to email and social media. Currently 10% of UK retail sales happen online, which is set to rise to 13% by 2017.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/19/royal-mail-amazon-delivery-service-uk-parcels-profits

3 Why Indians flock to gurus (Soutik Biswas on BBC) I don’t think many people were aware of the controversial Hindu guru Rampal before Tuesday’s violent clashes between his supporters and the police. But then India is a country of more than a billion people and tens of thousands of gurus.

There are gurus for rich and poor. Many of them command huge followings at home and overseas counting politicians, film and cricket stars, bureaucrats and ordinary people among their devotees. The world’s best known cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, is a follower of Sai Baba, whose mystique and influence lasted long after his death in 2011. Gurus also peddle influence as politicians run to them for advice. Proximity to a guru legitimises a politician and adds to his power, says sociologist Shiv Visvanathan. Many of the gurus are also successful entrepreneurs and run massive business empires, selling traditional medicines, health products, yoga classes and spiritual therapies.

A guru from Punjab, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who heads a popular religious sect, even performs at rock concerts and acts in films. The gurus also believe in what big companies call “corporate social responsibility”, or investing in communities and caring for the environment. So they supply drinking water to parched villages, run rehab programmes for prisoners and drug addicts, organise blood donation camps and open schools for poor children.

So what accounts for India’s enduring relationship with gurus? For one, in a fast-urbanising country bristling with ambition, frustration and confusion, gurus are like placebos for the uncertain masses. People flock to them, thinking that they can help give them the next big break in their lives.

Also, most Indians believe in magic, miracle and faith healing. Sociologist Dipankar Gupta says Hinduism depends on magic more than other religions as “Hinduism does not have a single book and communion”. “If you are in a communion, you pray together, you have other kinds of solace,” he says. So many Indians depend on gurus to produce miracles and improve their lives.

“Gurus are essentially seen as magicians who promise miracles. You go to a guru hoping he will deliver things to you. Religion, as we know it, is just a gloss and doesn’t draw Indians to gurus in the first place,” says Dr Gupta. As long as belief in magic and miracle survives and times remain uncertain, India’s gurus are assured a place in the sun.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30110374

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

G20 summit — High on promise, low on delivery; UK grocery sales dip, first time in 20 years; Abuse, hunger await South Africa children

1 G20 summit – High on promise low on delivery (Linda Yueh on BBC) The G20 summit of world leaders has concluded with a communique, a fancy way of describing a joint statement, that has both delivered more, but also somewhat less, than expected.

Where they’ve delivered more is by putting issues such as climate change in the message from world leaders. Those weren’t on the formal agenda as the host, Australian PM Tony Abbott, had nixed climate change, for one. But, after US President Obama mentioned the urgency of dealing with climate change before the summit, it’s unsurprising that it was discussed after all. Ebola is also in the final statement.

But, where they have delivered less is with respect to concrete commitments on those issues. For instance, the gist of the G20 statement on climate and Ebola is that they are concerned, and support effective action – without committing money or quantitative targets. Maybe that’s too much to expect given that these originally weren’t on the agenda.

Fighting tax evasion was on the agenda, and the G20 agreed to automatically share tax information, but I’ve already heard criticism from Transparency International and others that it doesn’t go far enough because the information won’t be in the public domain.

World leaders reaffirmed their goal of lifting the GDP of G20 economies – which represent 85% of the world’s economy – by an additional 2% within four years, by 2018. It’s equivalent to adding $2 trillion to global output, and they say that will create millions of jobs. How they can achieve that, of course, is the big question. The statement says that they’ll deliver jobs through increasing “investment, trade and competition”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30073281

2 UK grocery sales dip, first time in 20 years (Sarah Butler in The Guardian) UK grocery sales have gone into decline for the first time in at least 20 years as a raging price war and the falling cost of food commodities hit Britain’s supermarkets. In good news for shoppers, the average price of a basket of everyday essentials such as milk, bread and vegetables now costs 0.4% less than it did a year ago, according to the latest figures from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

But the figures highlight lean times for the UK’s biggest retailers with all of the “big four” supermarkets seeing sales fall back in the 12 weeks to 9 November as the overall grocery market contracted by 0.2% compared with a year ago. This is the first time there has been a decline in UK grocery sales by value since it data collection began in 1994. Back then Sainsbury’s was still the market leader but was to be overtaken by Tesco the following year.

The “big four” are spending billions of pounds cutting prices in an effort to stem the rate of shopper defections to German discounters Aldi and Lidl. The declining grocery market is likely to be of concern to retailers as they gear up for the key Christmas trading season. In keeping with a trend that has continued throughout this year, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl continued to grow strongly, as did the up-market grocer Waitrose.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/18/uk-grocery-sales-decline-price-war-asda-sainsburys-morrisons-tesco

3 Abuse, hunger await South Africa children (Tanya Farber in Johannesburg Times) Abuse and hunger await millions of South African children, according to a new report. It paints a grim picture of the treatment of children at the hands of the adults who would be expected to care for them. In some communities, the report says, more than half of the children have been abused on a long-term basis by caregivers, teachers or relatives.

The responsive approach to dealing with violence against children, the report contends, does not decrease its incidence and is expensive. A preventative approach is advocated. About 40% of children have witnessed violence against their mother, causing them severe trauma and, in some cases, mental illness.

The ground-breaking Child Gauge 2014 report, which brings together in-depth research by specialists, also says that: 15% of children are neglected by their parents; 74% of all child homicides involve children under the age of five, and half of these are due to babies being dumped before they are a week old; and at least 10% of child murders involve sexual assault.

The Human Sciences Research Council’s senior research specialist, Mokhantso Makoae, says in the report that a responsive approach does not decrease the incidence of violence against children and is expensive. A preventative approach is advocated. “The costs of prevention programmes are a fraction of the treatment costs and are estimated to give a saving of 96% to 98%.”

Other figures from the report: 2million children live in shacks; more than half live in poverty; 6million live in a household in which no one is employed; one-third of children have no access to water on site; one third of children have no basic sanitation; about 800000 are orphans; and about 2.5million go hungry.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2014/11/18/our-damned-children

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Japan’s recession means for the world; Facebook mulls free internet for Africa; 18,000 terrorism deaths in a year

1 What Japan’s recession means for the world (BBC) In a surprise, Japan said its economy, the world’s 3rd-biggest following the US and China, contracted 1.6 percent at an annual pace in the July-September quarter as consumer and corporate spending failed to regain momentum after a sales tax increase in April.

Here are some implications for the global economy and for Japan: The slump comes as China’s growth is slowing and Europe’s economy is limping along. It could drag on Asia’s growth if Japanese businesses hold back on investing abroad and companies and consumers buy fewer imports. The drop also adds to uncertainties in world financial markets.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will likely delay another sales tax hike planned for October 2015, and use that decision and the bad GDP numbers as reasons to call snap elections, possibly as early as next month, to seek a public mandate on this course of action.

Japan’s population is shrinking and aging, creating a smaller domestic market and placing heavier tax burdens on younger wage-earners. Apart from its automakers, Japan’s many manufacturers have lost their innovative edge and have been shifting production offshore. Household incomes peaked more than a decade ago, and a growing share of workers struggle to make ends meet on part-time, contract work.

Abe has promised drastic reforms of labor regulations, the tax system and the health industry, among other areas, to help improve Japan’s competitiveness. But so far he’s made little headway, while most companies have not passed on windfall gains from stock price increases and surging profits to their workers in the form of higher wages.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/What-Japan-s-recession-means-for-country-world-5897681.php

2 Facebook mulls free internet for Africa (Christopher Williams in Telegraph/Johannesburg Times) Facebook is in an advanced stage of talks with UK satellite operator Avanti about a ground-breaking project that would provide free internet access across swathes of Africa. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he is determined to connect the developing world.

It is expected that a deal between Avanti and the social network, under the auspices of its internet.org initiative, will be announced soon. Internet.org aims “to bring the internet to the two-thirds of the world’s population that doesn’t have it”. Avanti, which owns two broadband satellites positioned over Africa, plans to launch two more in the next three years to increase capacity and coverage.

According to internet.org, if developing economies had the standard of internet access enjoyed in rich countries global productivity would be boosted by 25% and 160million people would be lifted out of poverty. Facebook turned to the British company after an appeal to network operators to help spread internet access received a cool reception.

The Avanti solution is also likely to be quicker to set up and more reliable than some of the more exotic and experimental technologies in development. Google, for instance, is working on Project Loon, which involves high-altitude balloons. Facebook itself is testing solar-powered drones but has said they will not be ready for deployment for years. Facebook and Avanti declined to comment.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2014/11/17/free-internet-for-africa-on-cards

3 Terrorism took 18,000 lives last year (Ewen MacAskill in The Guardian) Terrorism is on the rise, with an almost fivefold increase in fatalities since 9/11, in spite of US-led efforts to combat it in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, according to a report.

The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths last year, a jump of about 60% over the previous year. Four groups were responsible for most of them: Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; the Taliban in Afghanistan; and al-Qaida in various parts of the world.

The terrorism index raises questions about the effectiveness of a western counter-terrorism strategy since 9/11 that has seen US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and the use of proxy forces around the world. According to the index figures, the number of fatalities has steadily grown over the last 14 years, from 3,361 in 2000 to 11,133 in 2012 and 17,958 in 2013.

Supporters of the US strategy can find solace in a decrease in the four years from 2007, which could be attributed to the US troop surge in Iraq. The next steep rise began in 2011 as a result of the Syrian civil war, which was born out of the Arab spring rather than US-led action. But the emergence of Isis can be attributed directly to the US invasion of Iraq. Its genesis can be traced to the insurgency against the US forces. It grew from al-Qaida in Iraq.

Steve Killelea, executive director of the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent thinktank with offices in Sydney, New York and Oxford, said there had been a “significant and worrying increase in worldwide terrorism” over the last two years. He did not have the figures for this year yet but “my gut instinct is that it will be worse. I think we will see an increase.”

The report says that the two most successful strategies for ending terrorist groups since the late 1960s have been policing and the initiation of a political process. “These strategies were the main reason for the ending of more than 80% of terrorist organisations that ceased operation. “ The report says that there were 437,000 murders in 2012 compared to 11,113 terrorist deaths.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/18/fivefold-increase-terrorism-fatalities-global-index

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cameron sees second global crash looming; Japan falls into recession; Singapore’s tuition dilemma

1 David Cameron says second global crash is looming (Patrick Wintour in The Guardian) David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago. Cameron says there is now “a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty” that presents a real risk to the UK recovery, adding that the eurozone slowdown is already having an impact on British exports and manufacturing.

His warning comes days after the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, claimed a spectre of stagnation was haunting Europe. The International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, expressed fears in Brisbane that a diet of high debt, low growth and unemployment may yet become “the new normal in Europe”.

“The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too,” Cameron wrote. “Emerging market economies which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali [trade talks in 2013], global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.”

With Germany, Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse, growing by just 0.1% in the third quarter, the eurozone economy appears to be faltering. The EU may also be only one or two new rounds of sanctions away from pushing Russia into a deep recession as punishment for its interference in Ukraine. World leaders pledged 800 separate measures designed to lift their combined economic growth by an additional 2.1% above the current trajectory by 2018 compared with 2013.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/16/david-cameron-third-eurozone-recession-g20-warning

2 Japan economy in recession (BBC) Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, marking a technical recession in the world’s third largest economy. Gross domestic product fell at annualised 1.6% from July to September, compared to forecasts of a 2.1% rise. That followed a revised 7.3% contraction in the second quarter, which was the biggest fall since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The economy shrank 0.4% in the third quarter from the previous one. Economists said the disappointing figures are likely to lead to a delay to the proposed increase of the country’s sale tax. Private consumption, which accounts for about 60% of the economy, was 0.4% higher from the previous quarter – much weaker than the 0.8% increase that economists had been expecting.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30077122

3 Singapore’s tuition dilemma (Straits Times) That the tuition industry is now worth $1.1 billion a year is cause for concern, although tutors are contributing to the gross domestic product and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has recovered more than $2.3 million in unpaid taxes and penalties from private tutors and tuition centre proprietors who under-declared their incomes.

There would be nothing to complain about tuition per se as an educational transaction engaged in by parents and tutors, willing buyers and sellers of knowledge and skills. But it is the purpose and impact of tuition on students generally that warrants introspection. Individual attention can help immensely. But for many parents, tuition is synonymous with educational rites of passage such as the PSLE and later national examinations. To them, tuition is all about making a difference to test scores.

However, those who truly embrace holistic education might instead tap tuition to spark or sustain a child’s interest in the arts or sports, to broaden his social horizons, or to equip him to participate more fully in the life of the country. Not every such child will become a literary or sporting star, but all children will gain from a sounder sense of their place in the social scheme of things.

The problem occurs when parents view tuition not as an exceptional means of meeting minimal educational goals or of expanding a child’s mind, but as a perpetual attempt to game the educational system at elusively higher and higher levels of expectation.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/figuring-out-billion-dollar-question-20141117

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oil’s fall ‘set to continue'; Biz schools produce most billionaires; Banking is changing, but corruption stays

1 Oil’s fall ‘set to continue’ (BBC) Oil prices are likely to continue falling well into 2015, the International Energy Agency has said. The IEA, a consultancy to 29 countries, said weak demand and the US shale gas boom meant crude’s recent fall below $80 a barrel was not over. On Friday, Brent crude traded at $78.13 a barrel, near a four-year low.

“Barring any new supply problems, downward price pressures could build further in the first half of 2015″, IEA said. The organisation, set up after the “oil shock” of the early 1970s to advise major oil importing countries, said that pressure was building on the Opec oil producers’ group to restrict supply to bolster prices. However, there have been reports that Saudi Arabia, Opec’s key member, is not yet willing to turn off the taps.

Also, it is likely that oil and gas explorers will become increasingly worried that falling prices will make exploration uneconomical. Brent has fallen for eight weeks in a row, its longest losing streak since 1988, according to Reuters’ data. The US energy department said this week that it expected low fuel prices to last into next year.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30049294

2 Biz schools churn out most billionaires (Julie Balise in San Francisco Chronicle) Harvard Business School’s MBA program has produced more billionaires than any other business school, according to a report from Wealth-X.

With 64 billionaire MBA alumni, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based school has nearly three times as many as runner up Stanford University. Seven of the top 10 business schools with the most billionaire alumni are based in the US. Three of them are Ivy League colleges.

While the recent Wealth-X study focused on MBA programs, several of those colleges also appear on the list of schools with the most billionaire undergraduate alumni, released by Wealth-X in October. University of Pennsylvania took the top spot on that list, with 25 billionaire undergraduate alumni, followed by Harvard University.

There are 2,325 billionaires in the world, with a combined net worth of $7.3 trillion, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014. Europe is home to more billionaires than any other continent, while the US has more billionaires than any other country. New York City has the largest population of billionaires of any city.

http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/10-business-schools-with-the-most-billionaire-5889224.php

3 Banking is changing, but corruption stays (Will Hutton in The Guardian) Another week, another financial scandal. Six global banks, including RBS and HSBC, were fined £2.6bn last week for rigging the foreign exchange markets. Since 2008, total fines levied in Europe and the US for banking crimes and misdemeanours now top £100bn, with banks making provision for a further £60bn. British banks alone have set aside an estimated £30bn for fines, provisions and litigation costs.

What has gone wrong with western finance? The systemic ripping off of customers continued after the financial crisis to constitute what is now the biggest-ever global corporate scandal. Banks worldwide duped clients into buying products that were either not needed or provided no purpose. Worse, they organised financial markets whose purpose was to serve their own interests rather than those they purported to serve. It has proved a hard habit to break.

Banking itself is being reformed. The implementation of the Vickers commission proposals will separate commercial banking from investment banking in five years’ time, and proprietary trading will become ever harder. The FCA’s increasingly tough stance and astonishing fines will incentivise bank managements to stop indulging the traders who have landed them in such trouble.

And yet reading the chatroom banter, with its echoes of the banter over mis-selling PPI, rigging interest rates or derivatives, offers a window into a very degraded culture. Making money from money, with the clients’ interest last, is too dominant an element in the culture of investment bankers. This is not an environment where good flourishes. For that we need a much deeper change of heart, a process that, I suspect, will need more crises before it becomes more widely accepted as imperative.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/16/banking-changing-slowly-but-culture-still-corrupt

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Germany avoids triple-dip recession; Brent crude falls below $80; Techie women and egg-freezing parties

1 Germany avoids triple-dip recession (Julia Kollewe & Graeme Wearden in The Guardian) Germany and France, the eurozone’s two largest economies, performed better than expected in the third quarter, with Germany narrowly avoiding a triple-dip recession. However, Italy, the third-largest economy, has slid back into recession, its third since the financial crisis struck.

The eurozone as a whole grew by 0.2% between July and September following 0.1% growth in the second quarter, according to Eurostat. Greece has finally come out of recession, after nearly six years of misery. There was some relief in financial markets as Germany, Europe’s largest economy, eked out growth of 0.1%. Many economists had feared the country could slip back into recession, defined as two or more consecutive quarters of contraction.

France expanded 0.3% in the third quarter, the highest since the second quarter of 2013. Among the bigger eurozone economies, Italy was the only one that disappointed. It shrank 0.1% between July and September, marking the 13th quarter without any growth. Following a 0.2% contraction in the second quarter, this means Italy is in its third recession since 2008.

Spain was the best performer among major European economies this quarter, having reported 0.5% growth, while Portugal and the Netherlands both grew 0.2%. Outside the eurozone, Poland outperformed the currency bloc with 0.9% growth.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/14/germany-france-eurozone-gdp

2 Brent crude falls below $80 (BBC) The price of Brent crude oil has fallen $3.60 – 4.4% – to $77.52, its lowest level for four years. The benchmark US crude oil price is also at a four-year low, after losing $2.57 to close at $74.28. The price has fallen sharply since the summer and is 30% below its June price. The drop comes as traders believe members of the Opec oil exporting countries, which control about 40% of world oil exports, will not cut production.

Opec’s 12 member countries will meet later this month to discuss the global oil market. Lower oil prices typically prompt Opec nations, which include the biggest oil exporting nation in the world, Saudi Arabia, to rein back output in order to limit supply and boost prices and income. Most need higher oil prices to fund rising government spending. But recent comments by oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait suggest the group is unlikely to agree to a cut.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30033258

3 Techie women and egg-freezing parties (Wendy Lee in San Francisco Chronicle) In Silicon Valley, where many tech employees put in long hours, Dr Aimee Eyvazzadeh wants women to think about freezing their eggs — after work, and over drinks. The fertility expert is hosting three informational events this week, called egg freezing parties. Over wine and appetizers, a small group of women will learn more about the egg freezing process and there will be experts to help with any questions.

Eyvazzadeh, who calls herself “The Egg Whisperer,” is jumping on growing interest in preserving eggs in Silicon Valley, as some tech companies have decided to make the procedure a standard health benefit for a young workforce that is faced with the decision on whether to delay parenthood.

“It’s the 2014 version of the Tupperware party,” Eyvazzadeh said. “I thought it would be a fun way to promote fertility awareness before it’s too late.”  More tech companies are offering perks for parenthood in order to keep employees happy. Facebook already covers up to $20,000 for several procedures, including egg freezing, and also offers other benefits for parents, including giving $4,000 in “baby cash” for each child born. Meanwhile, Apple plans to include egg freezing and storage as part of items covered by its health insurance policy next year.

Eyvazzadeh’s explains how it works:  A woman injects herself with hormones in the skin of her midsection every night for ten nights. Then, the woman under goes a procedure in which a doctor collects her eggs. Those eggs are then frozen and stored. The cost of freezing eggs in general could be roughly $15,000. That’s compared to spending well over $30,000 to find an egg donor when you’re 40, she added.

http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2014/11/10/for-women-in-tech-egg-freezing-parties-are-new-post-work-event/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment