By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Australia is no longer immune to the stagnation in the West. Despite a resilient housing market, Australia’s economy is slowing. With a worsening labor market, consumption is eroding, along with business confidence.
A lot can happen in a year. This time last year, U.S. businesses and NGOs bemoaned the Obama administration’s perceived indifference to Africa. Now, they’re trying to find out how to catch the wave of interest. Major new initiatives, including Power Africa and Trade Africa, unveiled during President Obama’s first true trip to Africa this summer, as well as a reinvigorated push to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act fully two years before it’s due to expire, have given U.S.-Africa watchers a lot to consider. But what — and when — is enough for U.S. policy in Africa? What more can be done in the year ahead? How do things really shake out for investors, civil society and Africans? Here are three additional areas the Administration should consider as it deepens its commitment to the continent:
-The views expressed are the author’s own-
A warning by an International Energy Agency (IEA) analyst this week that quantitative easing (QE) risked inflating nominal commodity prices and derailing the recovery drew a withering response from Nobel Economics Laureate Paul Krugman, who labelled the unfortunate analyst the “worst economist in the world”.
For the last decade, investors such as pension and hedge funds have been the fastest-growing segment of commodity derivatives markets. The most successful banks and dealers have been those which marketed themselves most effectively to this new group of customers.
Commodity indices and exchange-traded products (ETPs) should be regarded as short- to medium-term investments rather than long-term strategies, as a quick glance at performance over the last 10 years shows.
John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own
Goldman Sachs cut the amount of risk it staked on commodity trading during Q2 2010 by almost 35 percent, part of a broad-based reduction in risk across the bank’s trading book. Value-at-risk (VaR) linked to commodity prices fell to an average of just $32 million per day between April and June, down from $49 million in the prior quarter and $40 million in the same period a year earlier, according to the firm’s earnings release. Cuts in VaR allocated to commodities were in line with reductions elsewhere, including interest rate risk (down just over 20 percent) and equities (down just over 30 percent). Only currency trading saw a slight increase in risk taking (up 3 percent). Commodity VaR was reduced to its lowest level since the three months ended September 2009, and before that November 2007.