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from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Sinking mortgage rates disguise investor fear – economist

A dip in 30-year mortgage rates to their lowest level in more than a year and stronger U.S. housing data on Friday appeared to be the green shoots of the next phase of U.S. economic recovery, that being the housing market.

U.S. housing starts were up a whopping 6.3 percent in September. Together, the mortgage and housing data seemed to suggest a housing recovery. That, in turn, fits neatly into the U.S. Federal Reserve’s initial timeline for ending its asset buying program this month, even as the number of sales of previously owned homes disappointed on Monday.

David Berson, chief economist, Nationwide Financial

David Berson, chief economist, Nationwide Financial

Taken as a part of the whole global financial picture, however, interference from economic slowdowns in Europe and China have begun to creep in and obfuscate the perception of a U.S. housing recovery.

The dip in mortgage rates has not been a nod toward increased home ownership, rather it has shrouded a flight to quality assets, David Berson, chief economist with Nationwide Financial told the Global Markets Forum on Monday. Banks are not necessarily getting more lenient with mortgage lending, rather sinking yields are a reflection of investor fear.

from Breakingviews:

Glencore Rio takeover would be harder than Xstrata

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

A Rio Tinto takeover would be harder than Glencore’s 2012 swoop on rival Xstrata. While there’s some logic to a tie-up with the world’s second-biggest iron ore producer, the Swiss miner-trader will be loath to pay a big premium, and the culture clash would be extreme. Rio is also in a better position than Xstrata to resist.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

Ebola’s “worst case” economic impact may total more than $40 billion – World Bank’s Evans

As world leaders gather this week for the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank  autumn meetings, Ebola will be top on the list of priorities. Apart from the human toll, the economic impact will be felt for at least a couple of years, said David Evans, senior economist of the World Bank’s Africa Division.

David Evans, senior economist, World Bank's Africa region

David Evans, senior economist, World Bank's Africa region

"What we see is that in the short run, by the end of this year, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are likely to be about $359 million poorer than they would have been in the absence of the Ebola outbreak,” Evans told the Global Markets Forum ahead of the meetings. “With our estimates of the impact of West Africa alone, even in a less tragic case, the lost GDP is likely to run into the billions. And in a worse case, we have even higher numbers (more than $40 billion).”

from The Great Debate:

Why work with India’s new leader? It’s the economy, stupid

India's Prime Minister Modi gestures while speaking at Madison Square Garden in New York

Great powers sneak up on you.  While Washington has been preoccupied with a burning Middle East, Russia behaving badly and, to a lesser extent, the rise of China, U.S. relations with India have slipped down the diplomatic priority list. In coming decades, however, enormous, unwieldy India will likely be the United States’ most important continental partner in Asia.

On Sunday, 19,000 spectators were enthralled at a rock-star-like rally for India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, in Madison Square Garden in New York.  Additional screens were set up in Times Square.  The Rolling Stones and U2 do not command a similar reception. Responding to chants of “Modi, Modi, Modi,” the prime minister promised to “form the India of [his fans’] dreams.”

from Breakingviews:

How Big Oil could grease invisible hand

By Stephanie Rogan

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The U.S. energy problem is very much due to a breakdown of the free market, contends the new documentary, “Pump.” Married co-directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell show how Big Oil’s monopoly on transportation fuels hurts Americans more than they realize. If drivers had options when filling up their tanks, both country and consumers would benefit.

from Breakingviews:

Double-digit oil promises lubrication not seizure

By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Double-digit oil is a welcome sign, not a harbinger of deflationary doom. The decline of the price of a barrel of Brent crude to just below $100, down 13 percent from its June peak, is good disinflation. It will help consumer spending and global economic recovery.

from Hugo Dixon:

Gas and bank security have similarities

Europe is currently conducting two stress tests. One is on its energy suppliers, to see how badly they would fare if Russian gas was disrupted. The other is on euro zone banks, to ensure they are strong enough to finance economic recovery.

It is hard to know which of the two is the more important. But it is clear that an effective regime for energy security requires many of the same elements as financial stability.

from Breakingviews:

Scottish secessionists in bind over North Sea oil

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

How much oil is left in the North Sea? The question is playing a key role in the debate over Scottish independence, since most of the bounty would probably remain in Scotland, and would make up around 15 percent of national output. But the real question isn’t just how much is left, but what politicians can do to get it out of the ground.

from Breakingviews:

Tragedy may reshape Brazil economy, not just vote

By Martin Hutchinson and Richard Beales

The authors are Breakingviews columnists. All opinions expressed are their own. 

Add Marina Silva to the challenges facing Dilma Rousseff. Brazil’s president faces a new opposition candidate in October’s election after Eduardo Campos’ death in a plane crash, and Silva looks a far bigger threat. If she ousts Rousseff, which polls show is possible, Brazil could gain economically from less state meddling.

from Breakingviews:

Dynegy’s $6.25 bln grab marks return of ambition

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Dynegy only got out of bankruptcy two years ago. Now two deals worth $6.25 billion, announced on Friday, mark a return of ambition for the U.S. power company. It once tried to buy Enron and eventually went bust after a spat involving activist Carl Icahn. The purchases look sensible, but the lesson from Dynegy’s past is to avoid getting carried away.

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