Fatster’s Roundup

Good morning!

International Developments

? At least 2 dozen killed in attack on Aleppo, Syria.  Russian warships are returning to “waters near Syria in a new demonstration of the Kremlin’s interest in the outcome of the crisis there.”

? “U.N. numbers on Syrians in need of help far too low,” according to results of the “first detailed survey of the humanitarian crisis in northern Syria.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s first official trip abroad will not include Israel or Palestine.  (Maybe he heard what happened to Gustavo Dudamel at the Israeli airport the other day.)

International Finance

? Go people!  “The government of Bulgaria has quit after nationwide protests against austerity measures.”

? “Another austerity strike paralyses Greece“.  Video.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy:  “no green shoots or passing clouds of early spring”.  Just austerity, austerity, austerity.

Money Matters USA

? US Justice Dept strikes again:  “deal reduces BP’s Deepwater Horizon fine by $3.4bn”.

If we applied “stricter accounting standards for derivatives and off-balance-sheet assets” we’d see the big banks are “twice as big as they say they are–or about the size of the U.S. economy”.  US banks are allowed to hide much more data than European ones.  Video.

? Hmmm. US banks “are lending the smallest portion of their deposits in five years” due in part to slower “demand from borrowers”.  But22% of small firms asking were denied loans during 4th quarter of 2012, compared to 10% in 2011, and the proportion of mid-sized firms denied loans tripled between 2011-2012.

? “The US Federal Reserve is backing away from open-ended asset purchases as officials grow nervous about the dangers of a bigger balance sheet” and we grow nervous about the Fed.

David Dayen’s response to  Katrina vanden Heuvel’s criticism  of DDay’s take on the Mortgage BackedSecurities task force.

? Here’s how they do it:  set up reinsurance companies in Bermuda and cycle top executives’ salaries through those companies so they can avoid taxes.  And this is a “decade after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service threatened to crack down” on such arrangements.

? “U.S. Single-Family Home Starts Rise to Four-Year High”. [cont’d.]

Photo by MarkGregory007 under Creative Commons license