Share your views on hot topics

from Global Investing:

Ignoring the drumbeat?


Reuters released its February asset allocation polls today, showing an ever so slight increase in average holdings of stocks. The signficiance, however, was not in the small increase but in the fact that there was no decrease. February has not been kind to riskier investments, with a drumbeat of poor economic news combining with new fears about banks to send global stocks to fresh six-year lows.

Dig inside the various polls -- they come from the United States, Britain, Japan and continental Europe -- and you find different moods. Three-quarters of U.S. managers polled, for example, made no change at all in their allocations over the month. Europeans, meanwhile, are so gun shy that they are holding more than twice as much cash as their long-term average. Japanese investors were a bit more optimistic than a month earlier, apparently because fears of deep trouble in China are easing.

What it all says is that investors are generally sticking to the sidelines, but are not being particulary spooked by continuing bad news. So is that the bottom? Or maybe familiarity breeds contempt?

Your take on Obama’s address to Congress

President Obama delivered his first major speech before a joint session of Congress, walking a fine line between frankness about the state of the U.S. economy and optimism about its recovery. Did you find his speech reassuring? Do you think the U.S. will emerge “stronger than before”? Share your thoughts below.

Is housing rescue plan enough?


President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated plan to deal with the U.S. housing crisis aims to help as many as 9 million families avoid foreclosure on their homes, one of the root causes of the global financial meltdown.

The Obama plan will involve government subsidies to mortgage servicers and lenders to encourage them to lower payments for borrowers in distress.

Judging Timothy


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner may be new to Washington but he is not new to the financial chaos that has leveled global markets in the past year. From his former perch atop the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the youthful Geithner has been involved in virtually all major efforts to restore stability to shaky financial markets. In his new role, he is now overseeing the latest effort to rescue banks laid low by their exposure to mortgage-related debt.

What’s your view? How has Geithner handled the early days of his new job?

New Citroen DS, a Goddess or a lemon?


There was a sudden frenzy in French media this week as the word broke that Citroen was about to relaunch the mythic DS car model – an elongated luxury car with air suspension that carried President Charles de Gaulle on his official trips.

Collectors of the DS, a play on ‘deesse’ which means Goddess in French, were eager to see what would come out.

Tilting the Supreme Court


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had surgery for pancreatic cancer, raising the possibility that President Barack Obama may have to pick a successor if she leaves the court for health reasons.

His pick would likely help shape the new president’s legacy – and could potentially reshape the Supreme Court. If he were to pick someone seen as even more liberal than Ginsburg, that would help moderate the conservatism introduced by President George W. Bush’s selections. A moderate would likely keep the balance of the current court, while a conservative pick is highly unlikely given Obama’s own political leanings.

Withdraw or stand their ground?


Tom Daschle doesn’t want to be a distraction. Nancy Killefer doesn’t want to be a distraction. Timothy Geithner has already been a distraction.

What these three high-profile nominees to President Obama’s White House have in common, besides not wanting to be distractions, is that they apparently don’t know how to do their taxes. Daschle, the former senator and Obama’s choice for health secretary, and Killefer, a former assistant Treasury secretary and nominee to oversee the government’s budget, have withdrawn their nominations because of tax indiscretions. Geithner has been confirmed but his path to the top of Treasury was also marred by tax troubles that some fear may come back to haunt him.

from UK News:

Will there ever be the “right type of snow” in Britain?


The last time round when there was such widespread travel chaos in Britain due to snow was quite some time was in 1991 - the year the "wrong type of snow" was born - British Rail's ill-conceived attempt to explain why the railways had come to a virtual standstill after heavy snowfall.

The "wrong type" of just about anything has since been used to explain why the country's creaking transport system is grinding to a halt ....remember the one about the "wrong type of leaves" on the tracks?

from UK News:

Saving a Titian for the nation: money well spent?


The National Galleries of Scotland and London's National Gallery said on Monday they had raised the 50 million pounds needed to save a key work by Renaissance master Titian before it was put up for sale by the Duke of Sutherland.

Of the 50 million raised for "Diana and Actaeon", the Scottish government pledged 12.5 million pounds, 7.4 million came from public donations, 12.5 million from National Galleries in London and another 10 million pounds came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

from UK News:

BBC – taking a stand on Gaza


The BBC has been roundly condemned at home for its refusal to broadcast an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 13 aid agencies.

It says it does not want to be seen to be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that broadcasting the appeal could jeopardise its carefully cultivated position of impartiality. Sky News has followed suit.