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1 ‘US stimulus cut rocking emerging markets’ (Larry Elliott in The Guardian) India’s central bank governor has blamed the US and other western nations for the financial tremors shaking emerging markets as he attacked the way the US was withdrawing its colossal stimulus programme. Important emerging economies – including India, Turkey and South Africa – have all raised interest rates to defend their currencies this week amid signs that the gradual phasing out of quantitative easing has led to investors becoming more jittery about high-yielding, risky markets.
The Fed announced on Wednesday that the US economy was strong enough for it to reduce monthly asset purchases from $75bn to $65bn and news that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the final three months of 2013 left Wall Street convinced that further tapering was inevitable. “International monetary co-operation has broken down,” Rajan, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said. “Industrial countries have to play a part in restoring that [co-operation between central banks], and they can’t at this point wash their hands off and say we’ll do what we need to and you do the adjustment.
“Fortunately the IMF has stopped giving this as its mantra, but you hear from the industrial countries: We’ll do what we have to do, the markets will adjust and you can decide what you want to do,” he added. “We need better co-operation and unfortunately that’s not been forthcoming so far.”
Rob Carnell, economist at ING bank, said growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 would probably have been close to 3.5% at an annual rate had it not been for parts of the federal government being shut down in October. While inflationary pressure was weak, Carnell added: “This should not be enough to detract the Fed from what looks like will be another $10bn taper at their March meeting, taking monthly QE down to $55bn.”
2 Mobile is challenge area for Google (Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times) There is no denying that Google has become a mobile company. Now, Google — along with shareholders, industry partners and advertisers — is trying to figure out what that means. In mobile advertising, Google is wrestling with how to make as much money on phones as it has on the ads that appear on desktop computers. Its fourth-quarter earnings report on Thursday showed that it is continuing to struggle with lower ad prices on phones.
But in other areas, like manufacturing smartphones, Google has decided that the business is better left to someone else. It has announced that it would sell Motorola Mobility, which it bought less than two years ago for $12.5 billion, to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. Google executives would prefer that people stop talking about mobile at all.
“People aren’t distinguishing what they’re doing on different screens, so advertisers should be more agnostic about where they reach the user,” Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, said on a conference call with analysts. “The fundamental tenet is not to speak about mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s really about living with the users. What device are you on? What’s your question? How can we assist you? That’s a much broader and richer set of activities for us.”
And while everyone else is still obsessing about smartphones, Google has moved on to new kinds of devices and even robots. Eyewear with tiny computers called Google Glass is expected to be sold to consumers this year, and the company recently bought robotics companies and agreed to acquire Nest Labs, which makes Internet-connected thermostats and smoke detectors.
The company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $16.86 billion, an increase of 17 percent over the year-ago quarter. Net revenue, which excludes payments to the company’s advertising partners, was $13.55 billion, up from $11.34 billion. The fourth quarter is generally Google’s strongest because it makes money from retail advertisers during the holiday shopping season. Despite Google’s mobile challenges, among web businesses it might be the biggest beneficiary so far of consumers’ shift to mobile devices. Google services are the top web property on smartphones, reaching 87 percent of the mobile audience. Facebook is next with 85 percent.
3 Generation Lost (Khaleej Times) When billionaire bankers and CEOs of global corporates, meeting at an exclusive Swiss ski resort, talk of social inequality and rising unemployment, issues that are usually debated by activists of nonprofits, then surely there must be something seriously wrong with the global economy. This year’s annual World Economic Forum meet at Davos in Switzerland was different because the focus was not just on the usual metrics — GDP growth, interest rates, global FDI inflows, EBITDA and other esoteric acronyms — but on issues that affect millions of young people across the globe.
The WEF, in its annual survey of 700 opinion-makers, has identified income disparity as the most likely risk to cause an impact on a global scale over the next decade. Other risks of significant concern include extreme weather events, unemployment and fiscal crises. Millions of young people, especially those below 25, in Europe, the US and other developed nations are now part of what is described as ‘generation lost.’ While central banks including the US Federal Reserve have injected trillions of dollars into the global financial system, these have only resulted in skyrocketing stock prices and soaring wealth for billionaires.
The unemployment rate in the US, for those below 25, is as high as 15 per cent. While unemployment in the Eurozone is at a record high of 12 per cent, for those below 25 the rate is more than double. The International Labour Organisation warned recently that the global youth-to-adult unemployment ratio had touched a historical peak; while the global adult unemployment rate was 4.6 per cent, the rate for those between 15 and 24 was 13.1 per cent. While 202 million people were unemployed around the world, those below 25 accounted for nearly 75 million.