Reuters blog archive
from Global Investing:
One of the stories of this year has been the stupendous rally on emerging local currency debt, fuelled in part by inflows from institutional investors tired of their zero or negative-return investments in Western debt. Norway's sovereign wealth fund said last week for instance that it was dumping some European bonds and spending more of its $600 billion war chest in emerging markets.
Quite a bit of that cash is going to South Korea. Regulators in Seoul recently reported a hefty rise in foreigners' bond holdings (see here for the Reuters story) and Societe Generale has a note out dissecting the data, which shows that total foreign holdings of Korean bonds are now worth around $79 billion -- back at levels seen last July. Norwegians emerged as the biggest buyers last month, picking up bonds worth 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion) , almost double what they purchased in the entire first half of 2012. Norway's holdings of Korean Treasuries now total 2.29 trillion won, up from just 190 billion won at the end of 2011.
The growing interest from overseas investors would seem logical -- South Korea stands on the cusp between emerging and developed markets, with sound policies, a current account surplus and huge currency reserves. And Socgen analyst Wee-Khoon Chong says the Norwegian crown's recent strength against other currencies makes such overseas trades more attractive (the crown is up 6 percent versus the euro this year and has gained 5.3 percent to the Korean won). "Norwegians are the newbies into the KTB market," Chong says. "They are probably recycling their FX reserves."
All the interest from overseas (along with the central bank's switch to monetary easing) have pushed yields on benchmark 5-year Korean bonds to record lows under 3 percent, after starting the year at 3.4 percent. Yet that is significantly higher than what's available in the "safe" Western markets such as Germany, United States and Britain -- 5-year bonds in these countries offer 0.5-0.7 percent.
By Una Galani
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
Sovereign wealth funds are still hungry for Western banks. Even though an early-crisis wave of financial investments mostly ended badly, Credit Suisse’s latest 3.8 billion Swiss franc cash call shows rich states still have faith in global lenders.
from Photographers Blog:
By Cathal McNaughton
I’ve been covering the economic crisis in Ireland for over three years, chronicling the changes as the Celtic Tiger becomes a distant memory and the austerity measures grip the country.
But because I’m in Dublin so frequently I have probably become accustomed to the sight of unfinished buildings, "to let" signs and boarded up shops. I no longer properly notice the terrible decline that is gripping the country.
from John Lloyd:
To watch Anders Breivik, in the news clips available of him in the Oslo court where he is being tried for mass murder, is to see a smile on the face of an animal much more terrifying than any beast: a human fanatic, whose own mental processes have produced a monstrous creature. That smile is so normal, appearing so naturally in his conversations with his defense lawyer Geir Lippestad. It seems almost…carefree. Indeed, Breivik does seem free from care. “I would say,” said Lippestad on Wednesday, in the precise and fluent English all Norwegians seem able to speak, that “he’s always in a good mood.”
Lippestad, who will likely never have another such shot at fame, will probably never again walk such a high wire. He must defend a man most of the world believes to be wholly indefensible and many in Norway know as one who murdered a relative, friend or acquaintance. He must accompany his client as he comes to court and gives his defiant, fist-out salute. Breivik has been asked to stop, but so far hasn’t. Lippestad is helpless in this matter, saying that “either he will or he won’t. There's nothing that we can order him to do.” The Norwegian authorities are grimly determined that all the rules of a liberal order be followed: Lippestad, in a liberal society’s iconic (but hardly popular) role of the defender of a human horror, bears the brunt.
from Photographers Blog:
By Fabrizio Bensch
A lot has been written about Andres Behring Breivik, the 33 year-old Norwegian man who a year ago was unknown.
He lived completely withdrawn on a small farm far from Oslo, alone to work on his diabolical plan. He built bombs to explode in central Oslo, and in the following chaos drove to Utoeya island and shot as many teenagers as possible. In all, he killed 77 people that day.
from Left field:
For many football fans, the post-Christmas blues will be banished by the prospect of their club buying big when the transfer window opens in January.
But the out-of-contract players taking part in the FIFPro Winter Tournament in Oslo are hoping to get their futures sorted out before the window opens again.
from Photographers Blog:
It was a typical Friday afternoon in Berlin -- traffic in the streets and people looking forward to their weekend. A few hours earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had finished her traditional summer press conference in the capital city, where she answered with quite a lot of humor and unusual looseness, journalist's questions about the Greek crisis and the EU summit in Brussels before she left for summer vacation. I was at home and not aware of the latest news when I got a phone call from the Berlin office: "It's an emergency. There was a bomb explosion in Oslo. Can you book a flight to Oslo and immediately fly there?" At first I did not know what exactly had happened. My wife searched for information online and the first breaking news images from Oslo had flooded the media. People were wandering amid the rubble in the governmental area of the Norwegian capital.
I booked the next flight from Berlin to Oslo. I had just two and a half hours until departure. I quickly packed my equipment, took a 500 mm telephoto lens and a few days worth of personal belongings. At the airport check-in I met other journalists -- a mix of foreign colleagues and the Reuters cameraman with whom I would fly to Oslo. The plane was packed, every seat occupied, mainly with journalists. This was one of the fastest routes to Norway after the bombing. There was free internet onboard so I was able to check the latest news non-stop. There was now concrete news trickling in about a shooting on Utoeya island, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) northwest of Oslo, with a number of people reported dead.
July 25, 2011
Latest (12:46pm ET)
Norway killer tells judge two more cells exist : Johan Ahlander and Aasa Christine Stoltz, Reuters
Police updates via BBC liveblog
Investigation into Mr Breivik's links to Poland still going on - Norwegian police.
Nobody has been arrested in Poland with links to the Breivik case - Norwegian police.
Police point out that Mr Breivik appeared to contradict himself, saying variously he had acted alone and had worked with two other "cells".
Police say today's hearing was held in a closed court because they were "worried about giving out too much information". "One of the reasons was that we thought that other people might be implicated."
from Funds Hub:
News and views on the asset management industry from Reuters and elsewhere
from Environment Forum:
My name is Norway and I’m a petroholic.
“I’ve tried it all: Vaseline, kerosene, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. I’ve even tried natural gas,” says a leaflet from the most controversial stand at Norway’s biggest oil and gas exhibition.
Situated next to lavish exhibits of dozens of oil and gas companies and hundreds of oil sector contractors, green group Bellona is preaching the sober message of the renewables revolution at the heart of Norway’s oil world – the ONS conference in Stavanger.