financializer news A weblog highlighting financial topics making news in the international media.

anglo-dutch company: Shell announced in October it would increase its spending on low-carbon energy to 25% of overall capital expenditure by 2025 and the sources said that would translate into more than 5 billion a year, up from 1.5 billion to 2 billion now, according to The Japan Times. The Anglo-Dutch company will, however, keep its overall oil and gas output largely stable for the next decade to help fund its energy transition, though gas is set to become a bigger part of the mix, the sources said. Shell and its European rivals are seeking new business models to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and appeal to investors concerned about the long-term outlook for an industry under intense pressure to slash greenhouse gas emissions. ; Shell will present its strategy on Feb. 11 and unlike Total and BP, the company will focus more on becoming an intermediary between clean power producers and customers than investing billions in renewable projects, the sources said, giving previously unreported details of the plan. A Shell spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of the company's new strategy ahead of its February announcements. While Europe's big oil firms are all rolling out strategies to survive in a low-carbon world, investors and analysts remain skeptical about their ability to transform centuries-old business models and triumph in already crowded power markets. BP, meanwhile, plans to slash its oil output by 40% by 2030 and has swept aside its core oil and gas exploration team to focus on renewables, with spending on low-carbon energy set to rise 10-fold to 5 billion over the coming decade. ( As reported in the news.

coronavirus cases: Avex Inc., an entertainment company, also plans to offload its head office in the capital. ; Companies around the world are paring office space as workers stay at home during the pandemic, giving firms an opportunity to save costs and raise cash, according to The Japan Times. In Tokyo, office vacancies have surged to a five-year high and may continue to climb as the government urges people to work remotely to curtail the latest wave of coronavirus cases. In a country where companies have long taken pride in owning their buildings, advertising agency Dentsu Group Inc. and logistics firm Nippon Express Co. are now considering selling their Tokyo headquarters. Not many companies in Japan have sold headquarters buildings before, but we may see more of it, said Kakyu Tanaka, a senior researcher at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Research Institute Co. With thousands of its employees working from home, Dentsu is looking to sell its 48-floor headquarters for around 300 billion and lease back some of the space, the Nikkei reported in January. Firms that are faced with tough business prospects but have room to reduce office space through remote work may do so, he said. ( As reported in the news.

voter fraud: An order by acting President Myint Swe, a former general aligned with the army, granted full authority to the army chief to run the country, saying it was necessary to act now before the new parliament sessions began this week. ; If such a problem is not addressed properly, then there will be obstacles in the nation's democratic transition, the order said, according to The Japan Times. The army statement said voter rolls would be checked and the election commission would be re-established. Army chief Min Aung Hlaing's office said he took the action in response to alleged voter fraud and the military would hold a free and fair general election after the emergency is over. Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, confirmed Suu Kyi and President Win Myint had been detained in what he called a coup. TV channels, phone and internet communications were all spotty, making it difficult to get information from the country. It was unclear how many people were held, and under what terms. ( As reported in the news.

climate change: While this promise is both welcome and ambitious, Japan's pledge comes nearly a year after the European Union, which in 2019 proposed a climate law that would create a legally binding target of net zero carbon by 2050, according to The Japan Times. Further, despite its green rhetoric, Japan's climate change record at home and abroad has been mixed at best. Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth, he said in October, I declare we will aim to realize a decarbonized society. To accomplish Suga's ambitious goals, Japan will need to learn from other countries and pursue major political and economic reforms. ; Until 2011, Japan was on track to use nuclear energy to provide more than half of its electricity by around 2040. But the March 11, 2011, triple disasters a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, 14-meter-tall tsunami and meltdowns at three of the Fukushima No. 1 plant's nuclear reactors pushed Japan away from nuclear power and back to fossil fuels. The Japanese public was not strongly opposed to the use and expansion of the fleet of 54 nuclear power plants, which generated some 30% of Japanese electricity. ( As reported in the news.

nikkei stock: The euro was at 1.2155-2155, up from 1.2104-2104, and at 126.08-09, up from 125.88-88. ; After fluctuating around 103.90 in early trading on dollar buying by Japanese importers for settlement purposes, the dollar fell to around 103.70 later in the morning as the Nikkei stock average turned lower, according to The Japan Times. The U.S. currency moved narrowly around 103.70-80 in the afternoon amid an absence of fresh trading incentives. At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 103.73-74, down from 104.00-04 at the same time Tuesday. Market participants are waiting to hear what Biden has to say on U.S.-China ties in his inauguration speech, a currency broker said. But the impact of her remark was limited on the dollar-yen sector because it gave little surprise to currency market players, market sources said. In a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen showed her readiness to launch large-scale fiscal measures. ( As reported in the news.

self-driving vehicles: Honda and major U.S. carmaker GM agreed in 2018 to join hands in developing self-driving vehicles. ; Honda said it plans to start a mobility business using the Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle being developed by the three companies, with an eye to offering new transportation solutions in potential collaboration with local governments in Japan, according to The Japan Times. Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realization of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan, Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement, referring to its mobility service. Automakers are scrambling to develop next-generation autonomous vehicles, with IT firms also joining the race. Honda and Cruise will start conducting experiments in Japan using Cruise's test vehicle this year, Honda said. Microsoft will join GM, Honda Motor Co. and institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than 2 billion 207.5 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of the San Francisco-based startup to 30 billion. RELATED STORIES Toyota to use advanced self-driving tech in commercial vehicles first Toyota-backed to offer autonomous delivery service in California Honda to launch world's first level 3 autonomous vehicle by March Cruise and GM said Tuesday they would partner with Microsoft Corp. to accelerate the commercialization of driverless vehicles. ( As reported in the news.

section issues: On Friday, the benchmark index lost 179.08 points. ; The Topix index of all first section issues ended 11.12 points, or 0.60%, lower at 1,845.49, following a 16.67-point decline the previous trading day, according to The Japan Times. The Tokyo market succumbed to strong selling pressure from the outset, in response to drops in all three major U.S. stock gauges Friday, with the Nikkei giving up more than 400 points at one point in early trading. The 225-issue Nikkei average of the Tokyo Stock Exchange shed 276.97 points, or 0.97%, to close at 28,242.21. The market, however, managed to cut some of its losses later in the morning, thanks to buying on dips and anticipation for the Bank of Japan's purchases of exchange-traded funds, brokers said. The market went through a much-needed speed correction, after the Nikkei gained around 1,600 points in its recent rising streak of five sessions through Thursday last week, an official at a securities firm said. Both the Nikkei and Topix indexes continued to fluctuate in negative territory in the afternoon amid persistent profit-taking following the Tokyo market's recent bull run and a dearth of fresh buying incentives. ( As reported in the news.

trade agreement: But if Biden maintains outgoing President Donald Trump's confrontational approach to the world's second-largest economy, he will come to regret it, according to The Japan Times. While Biden may be less overtly antagonistic toward China than Trump was, he has echoed many of his predecessor's complaints about China's trade practices, accusing the country of stealing intellectual property, dumping products in foreign markets and forcing technology transfers from American companies. A glaring exception is China. And he has indicated that he will not immediately abandon the phase one bilateral trade agreement reached last year, or remove the 25% tariffs that now affect about half of China's exports to the United States. ; In Biden's view, it is best not to make any significant changes to the ongoing approach to China until he conducts a full review of the existing agreement and consults with America's traditional allies in Asia and Europe, in order to develop a coherent strategy. But it should not take a comprehensive examination to see that high tariffs and the phase one agreement are fundamentally incompatible. His chosen U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai an Asian-American trade lawyer and fluent Mandarin speaker with extensive experience in China might play an important role in the review process. ( As reported in the news.

v-shaped recovery: Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted 6.2% growth for the quarter and 2.1% for the full year. ; China has more than returned to trend growth, said Raymond Yeung, chief economist for Greater China at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, according to The Japan Times. The strong rebound means authorities can prioritize structural reforms rather than economic reflation in 2021, he said. Gross domestic product climbed 6.5% in the final quarter from a year earlier, fueled by industrial output, the statistics bureau said Monday. The V-shaped recovery was based on successful control of COVID-19 cases and fiscal and monetary stimulus which boosted investment in real estate and infrastructure. The quarter really seems to have shown the economy ended the year on a strong note, manufacturing is doing well, Cui Li, head of macro research at CCB International Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong said in an interview. Growth was further spurred by overseas consumer demand for medical equipment and work-from-home devices, with exports expanding 3.6% in 2020 compared to the previous year. ( As reported in the news.

conference circuit: The Financial Times on Friday reported that the showrunners of the Shark Tank-like Africa's Business Heroes replaced him as a judge in a November telecast and removed his photo from the show's website, around the same time Ma delivered his now-infamous rebuke of the pawnshop mentalities of government overseers. ; The flamboyant Ma long a fixture on the international conference circuit all but vanished from public view thereafter, according to The Japan Times. As of early December, the man most closely identified with the meteoric rise of China Inc. was advised by the government to stay in the country, a person familiar with the matter has said. Ma hasn't been seen in public since Chinese regulators torpedoed Ant's 35 billion IPO, then tightened fintech regulations and launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. all in a span of days. An Alibaba spokesperson said Ma couldn't attend due to scheduling conflicts, declining to comment specifically on the executive's whereabouts. The crackdown on Ma's companies has set in motion a string of regulatory decrees that threaten to reshape the landscape for China's online operators. Ma may have his hands full dealing with escalating scrutiny. ( As reported in the news.

energy supply: Nuclear power and fossil fuels using carbon capture and storage are expected to account for 30% to 40%, with hydrogen making up much of the remainder, according to The Japan Times. The plan is to keep nuclear power as a main source of energy despite calls to raise the share of renewable energy sources even further. That in turn, has touched off a debate over whether more renewable energy or more nuclear power is the best way to provide a safe, stable, secure and green energy supply by the middle of the century. ; The current energy plan, adopted by the Cabinet in July 2018, calls for renewable sources to provide between 22% and 24% of Japan's electricity by 2030, and for nuclear energy to provide between 20% and 22%. On Dec. 25, the government announced that it was aiming to have renewable energy supply between 50% and 60% of the nation's electricity by 2050 nearly a threefold increase over current use. We will establish a stable supply of energy by thoroughly conserving energy and introducing renewable energies to the greatest possible extent, as well as by advancing our nuclear energy policy with the highest priority on safety, Suga said in October when announcing the 2050 carbon neutral target. The nuclear industry will strive to continuously improve the safety and stable operation of nuclear power generation, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum president Shiro Arai said in response to Suga's declaration. Nuclear power can contribute to supply stability and economic efficiency, which are important for decarbonization of the energy system. ( As reported in the news.

state involvements: Biden has promised to rebuild U.S. alliance with like-minded countries to pressure China into making changes, according to The Japan Times. He will also likely broaden the litany of demands for changes, from market access to state involvements in the economy, from human rights issues to regional geopolitical conflicts. President-elect Joe Biden will arguably still perceive China as a major competitor, but his approach to deal with Beijing is bound to be less mean-spirited and arbitrary than Trump's more consistent and measured. Biden will move beyond the simple transactional calculations of the Trump administration to command China's good behavior. The damages to U.S. leadership in the multilateral system under Trump are beyond easy and quick fixes. Alas, if Biden's ambition is still to wage a pressure campaign to gain concessions from China, he will face a number of formidable challenges. ; First, to build an anti-China coalition is by no means an effortless task. ( As reported in the news.

cheese: Korean-style cheese dogs had their moment, according to The Japan Times. Earlier this year, it seemed that pulled pork would finally get its due. For several years, bubble tea chains reigned supreme, with lines stretching around the block, until they were already passe. The pandemic, of course, threw all predictions into chaos, leading to a surge in takeout options, even from some of the capital's most exclusive restaurants. Five of The Japan Times' food-minded critics share the dining trends they'd like to see the country embrace spoiler alert seating en plein air is a must . Sustainable mindset If you pickle extra produce in red wine, vinegar and mustard seed, it will keep for up to three months in the fridge. In many kitchens, rice cookers and bread makers were harnessed to push the bounds of home cooking. ; Even as we think back on 2020, eyes and stomachs are already turning toward what culinary delights 2021 might have to offer. ( As reported in the news.

india: On one hand, experts said, Biden's administration will most likely pay more attention to India's contentious domestic developments, where Modi's right-wing party has been steadily consolidating power and becoming overtly hostile toward Muslim minorities, according to The Japan Times. Trump has largely turned a blind eye. Military cooperation and a personal friendship between Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India both domineering nationalists have pushed New Delhi and Washington closer. ; Now, as President-elect Joe Biden is set to move into the White House, U.S. diplomats, Indian officials and security experts are resetting their expectations for relations between the world's two largest democracies. Others believe that the United States cannot afford to drastically alter its policy toward New Delhi because the United States needs its help to counter China and increasingly values India as a military and trade partner. One of the constants in U.S.-India relations has been that every presidential administration here in the United States has left the relationship in even better shape than the one it inherited. RELATED STORIES U.S. and India to sign defense pact amid China border standoff China gained ground on India during bloody summer in Himalayas India hails Kamala Harris as history-making U.S. vice president-elect India accuses China of helping rebel groups on Myanmar border The real opening between the United States and India began under President Clinton, it accelerated under President Bush, it continued under President Obama, and it's accelerating again under our president, President Trump, Stephen Biegun, the deputy secretary of state, said in October. ( As reported in the news.

september december: JPX plans to announce lists of companies on each of the new sections in January 2022, according to The Japan Times. The restructuring comes as Japan is seeking to boost its global standing as a financial center at a time when Beijing's tightening of controls over Hong Kong has raised concerns about the major Asian financial hub. Japan Exchange Group Inc. said it will reorganize the current four trading sections into Prime, Standard and Growth sections. ; Companies will choose which section they want to be listed on between September and December next year. The bourse, which was recently hit by a full-day trading glitch caused by a system failure, aims to attract foreign investors who have a big presence in the market. Companies to be listed on this section will need to have at least 10 billion worth of floating shares, which will have to account for 35% or more of their outstanding shares in principle. The Prime section or the top-tier market, equivalent to the current First Section, will have a greater focus on liquidity with an eye to attracting a variety of institutional investors. ( As reported in the news.

japan china: In July, some of his former students myself included and colleagues got together for an online party to celebrate his 90th birthday, according to The Japan Times. The late scholar talked about his life, showing us many old family photos that included his Jewish immigrant parents. There are many scholars who are well-versed in matters related to Japan and China, but Vogel was simply in his own league in terms of his academic work, and his contributions were immeasurable in facilitating a better understanding of the two Asian giants for scholars and laypersons alike. We were all amazed how such a radiant boy from the small town of Delaware, Ohio, could rise from such humble beginnings to navigate this world using his intellect and hard work to become the most celebrated expert on both Japan and China. ; Vogel was full of energy and passion about his book project on Hu Yaobang, who was a close collaborator of Deng Xiaoping and very close to Japanese leaders such as Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. We parted by promising to meet again on his 100th birthday. He also had words of advice on future U.S.-China policy for Joe Biden who he hoped would win and his administration in addition to being enthusiastic about his personal memoirs, as evidenced by the photo tour of his life. ( As reported in the news.

mark zuckerberg: The more Mark Zuckerberg tried to reassure politicians by talking up financial inclusion and innovation, the more he came across like a tobacco boss denying cigarettes are addictive, according to The Japan Times. He even acknowledged the problem I get that I'm not the ideal messenger for this. Governments and regulators linked arms to repel a perceived threat to monetary sovereignty, financial stability and data privacy. That hasn't deterred him. There's no more talk of rewards for members in the form of investment tokens. Given Zuckerberg's tendency to issue half-hearted apologies before going back to breaking things, it's not surprising that he's gearing up for a second attempt to launch Libra next year. ; There have been a few changes Libra is now called Diem as in Carpe and its membership council is headed by Stuart Levey, whose stints at the U.S. Treasury and HSBC Holdings Plc make him a blend of Beltway and banking. ( As reported in the news.

support suga: To divest from fossil fuels, shift to renewable energy and eliminate carbon emissions should not be seen as a restriction of economic activity, but as an opportunity to take advantage of inevitable change, a trade ministry official told reporters Thursday, according to The Japan Times. The central government will stand behind the private sector in leading the shift to a carbon free society. The report which calls for strong government spending to subsidize and incentivize emissions reduction, and innovation in more than a dozen industries details the potential economic growth that can be expected if the country reaches net zero carbon emissions. ; Not only does the plan provide a tentative framework to support Suga's vow in October to achieve decarbonization within three decades, it represents a major shift in the central government's attitude in treating renewable energy not as a barrier to economic growth but as a catalyst. The report designates 14 industries in which significant growth and investment are key to achieve decarbonization. According to the trade ministry's outline, the government aims to raise offshore wind energy output to 45 million kilowatt-hours by 2040, hydrogen power consumption to 20 million tons by 2050, promote nuclear energy abroad but halt domestic projects, decarbonize the agriculture industry and reduce coal-fired power consumption to the point where carbon recycling technology can be developed to nullify the remaining harmful emissions. These include offshore wind, ammonia fuel, hydrogen, nuclear energy, cars, shipping, airlines, semiconductors, logistics, agriculture, carbon recycling, housing, energy recycling and the lifestyles of individual people. ( As reported in the news.

house members: The nearly 75 million people who voted for him, according to The Japan Times. All the while, he's looked past other staggering and more consequential figures The record numbers of coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations and new cases among the citizens of the nation he leads. ; On Friday, Trump's team blasted out a text with this strong, high-minded presidential message We will not bend. The 100-plus House members backing a lawsuit challenging his election loss. We will not break. We will never give up. We will never give in. ( As reported in the news.

month: Maybe it's insoluble, according to The Japan Times. More and more Japanese women seem to feel it is. It's strange that, in an age that can create virtual reality, self-driving cars and intelligent machines, the world's third-largest economy can't solve the problem of human misery. Female suicide is sharply rising. National Police Agency statistics tell the tale, as far as numbers can tell it 651 women are known to have taken their own lives that month, up from 400-500 a month typically. July was a watershed. ( As reported in the news.

new-to-japan residents: If the local supermarket doesn't stock it, there's a good chance it can be found and ordered online, according to The Japan Times. Because it's become so easy to find these things, maybe the closing of Foreign Buyers' Club FBC on Dec. 5 didn't hit the international community quite as hard as it once might have. Today, non-Japanese ingredients are available at most supermarkets, and peanut butter is sitting right there on the shelf. Many new-to-Japan residents might never have heard of a company that, for decades, was the only way to get Honey Nut Cheerios, Kraft Mac & Cheese and many other staples of a life left behind. ; Food and family Chuck right and Kelly Grafft, the founders of Foreign Buyers' Club COURTESY OF CHUCK GRAFFT In 1988, an American couple in Kobe, Chuck and Kelly Grafft, began looking for a better way to import their favorites from home. As Chuck says, we never sold things, we were buyers for our friends and family. Friends caught wind of their efforts, asking to join, and FBC was born. ( As reported in the news.

guaido: He is recognized as the legitimate ruler of Venezuela by the U.S. and dozens of its allies, but that's based on his status as head of congress, which he is about to lose, according to The Japan Times. Guaido and his allies are boycotting the election, citing the absence of international monitors, while a minority segment of the opposition is taking part. His almost-inevitable landslide will cement his grip on the last major institution in the country that has democratic legitimacy. ; A win for Maduro will further weaken the position of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Turnout is expected to be between 25% and 36%, according to Venezuelan pollsters. Fewer people will turn out this time because the election is not perceived as credible, said Luis Vicente Leon, director of Caracas firm Datanalisis. In the last congressional vote held in 2015, participation was 76%. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., with results expected Sunday evening. ( As reported in the news.

inflation target: The first is the Average Inflation Targeting AIT which the U.S. Federal Reserve initiated in August 2020 a departure from the conventional framework of inflation-targeting, according to The Japan Times. The Fed set a 2% long-term inflation target in 2012, but actual inflation has remained disappointingly below the target and long-term inflation expectations have been sluggish over the past two years. ; Theoretically, the new framework should be more powerful in terms of raising inflation, since the duration of the current monetary easing measures of a virtually zero-interest rate policy will surely be extended, given that the underperforming period of the previous policy will be added to the future period of maintaining the low interest rate course. The two new policies are different in nature, but both are a departure from past practices something that may eventually put the two central banks' credibility at stake. Under the new framework, the Fed intends to offset periods that undershot the 2% target with periods that overshot the target rate. As individuals, companies and markets fully understand this and begin to expect future inflation to be higher and stabilize at around 2%, these changes will immediately lead to a higher actual inflation rate and long-term inflation expectation. For example, if an inflation rate of 1.5% continued for the past three years, the current low interest rate policy will be maintained until an inflation rate of around 2.5% is achieved from now on for the next three years or longer, which would average out to the 2% target. ( As reported in the news.

weapons programs: Bearing names like Godiva, Viper and Super Kukla, the reactors never fed electricity grids, according to The Japan Times. Instead, they produced research useful to nuclear weapons programs and eventually utilities. Those units built more than a half century ago in the U.S. and Europe generated bursts of heat within fractions of a second so that scientists could gauge nuclear reactions, sometimes with deadly consequences. Modern reactors are gigantic by comparison, able to power more than 1.5 million homes each. ; Today, the nuclear industry once again is thinking small, spurred on by politicians including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Half of the world's energy goes into making heat, and that produces two-fifths of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. They're looking to solve the next climate change challenge how to feed pollution-free heat to industries that make steel, cement, glass and chemicals. ( As reported in the news.

automobile industry: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will shortly hold a meeting with experts and representatives from automakers for discussions on a policy of reducing the use of gasoline vehicles and other issues related to the industry, the sources said, adding that the government will consider including the new target in a carbon neutrality action plan that it hopes to draw up by the end of this year, according to The Japan Times. Japan has worked out a target of increasing the share of eco-friendly automobiles, such as hybrid and electric vehicles, to between 50% and 70% by 2030. The government aims to accelerate decarbonization in the automobile industry in a bid to realize Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's goal of reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions effectively to zero by 2050, sources said. ; The government plans to work harder to promote electric vehicles as well as hybrid vehicles, an area in which Japanese automakers have shown leadership. But the target is less ambitious than goals set by other countries. While Toyota Motor Corp. popularized hybrid vehicles with the Prius and the country's automakers are among the world's top producers in the segment, the domestic market for electrified vehicles has plateaued in recent years. A new vehicle market consisting of only hybrid and electric automobiles would be a significant shift, given they currently only make up about 29% of the country's 5.2 million new motor vehicle registrations, according to the Automobile Manufacturers Association. ( As reported in the news.

fuel supply: Instead, countries are planning an average annual increase of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5 C limit, the report said, according to The Japan Times. Between 2020 and 2030, global coal, oil, and gas production would have to fall annually by 11%, 4%, and 3% respectively to be consistent with a 1.5 C pathway. Some of the largest fossil fuel producers in the world, including Australia, China, Canada and the United States, are among those pursuing major expansions in fossil fuel supply. ; Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nations have committed to a long-term goal of limiting average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5 C. The 1.5 C target requires fossil fuel production to decrease by around 6% per year between 2020 and 2030. But government plans indicate an average 2% annual increase for each fuel. The report was produced by the United Nations Environment Program as well as experts from the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Overseas Development Institute, think tank E3G and universities. This gap is large, with countries aiming to produce 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5C, the report said. ( As reported in the news.

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financializer news

A weblog highlighting financial topics making news in the international media.