Meditation will make you successful.

  1. Let’s do a quick review: meditation can help you cope with stress better, help you know (and like) yourself more, help you lessen anxiety and depression.
  2. Love music but find yourself drifting off and missing out in the middle of a concert or show? Meditation can help you to stay tuned in and aware, one study shows.
  3. Meditation helps your brain to let things slide away by simply giving it time to rest and meander through the information, bit by bit, letting go of what is unimportant.
  4. Some research shows that the way meditation helps your brain to work better is consistent, staying with you not just when you’re sitting on a cushion with your eyes closed, but all the time.
  5. Meditation affects your brain positively even when you’re not meditating.
  6. Meditation can improve how your brain functions.
  7. Another study showed that meditation “may be associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.
  8. Meditation can help you feel connected, and handle some stress.
  9. In other words, meditation may not only make your brain work better, it might also slow down the aging process within the brain.
  10. Handling high-stress, high-performance situations like a pro could certainly be a handy skill to have, and it’s one that meditation can help you cultivate.
  11. Whether you’re a part-time student, a full-time student, or someone who just likes to take tests for fun, meditation can help you learn and retain what you learn.
  12. If that’s not enough, there is also evidence from MRI scans that meditation can reinforce connections between brain cells.
  13. Meditation helps you feel reduce a sense of isolation and feel connected.
  14. When a group of psychologists were asked to recommend a few strategies for reaching weight-loss goals, 7 out of 10 said meditation, or mindfulness training, would be beneficial.
  15. Meditation can increase your metabolism and help you lose weight.

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Hey Europe, “Recovery” does not feel like the right word

At first glance, the eurozone economy seems like it might finally be on the mend.

  1. True, according to some estimates, the eurozone economy may now be growing at an annual rate of 1.6%, up from 0.9% in the year to the fourth quarter of 2014.
  2. With the eurozone economy 2% smaller than it was seven years ago, “Recoverydoes not feel like the right word especially as the relief is unlikelyto last.
  3. With eurozone exports increasingly reliant on global supply chains, a cheaper currency provides less of a boost than before.
  4. In 2014, exports from the eurozone amounted to nearly2 trillion more than those from China.
  5. In any case, with exports accounting for only one-fifth of the eurozone’s10trillion economy, they are unlikely to spur a strong recovery while domestic demand remains weak.
  6. Quantitative easing does improve funding conditions for the few eurozone companies large enough to tap capital markets.
  7. Most businesses in the eurozone rely on bank finance, and while credit conditions have improved somewhat, lending is flat.
  8. Nor can the small uptick in the eurozone’s growth, much less the relatively rapid expansion in Spain and Ireland, be attributed to the German recipe of fiscal consolidation and measures to increase export competitiveness.
  9. The eurozone economy is set to do a bit better in 2015, but not because of the policies demanded by Germany.

 

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Greek Debt for Dummies

Here is some facts about the Greek Debt

 

  1. The uncertainty over this week’s payment to the IMF is just the latest episode of a multiyear tragedy for Greece and its creditors as they try to navigate a situation that has been managed too timidly for too long.
  2. The biggest lenders to Greece are: the euro zone – 60%, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – 10%, the European Central Bank (ECB) – 6%, Greek banks – 3%,Bank of Greece, 1% – foreign banks, 15% – other bondholders, 3% – other loans.
  3. Having struggled to restore economic growth, and with an unemployment rate of 26 percent, Greece isn’t generating enough revenue to meet all of its obligations.
  4. Greece now has its hopes set on another meeting of euro zone deputy finance ministers on April 8-9, although it is unlikely that a deal could be reached by then.
  5. Negotiations between Greece and its creditors over the next tranche of the country’s bailout – worth more than €7bn – have stalled over disagreement about Syriza’s economic reform plans.
  6. Default or no default, Greece will be scrambling for cash unless it is revived by a fresh injection of bail-out cash soon.
  7. After days of talks between officials representing Greece and its creditors about a list of economic reforms and proposals, euro zone finance ministry officials will discuss progress and the prospects for an agreement during a teleconference session on Wednesday afternoon.
  8. Perhaps something good can come from Greece’s debt disaster as it is clear evidence that changes are needed to ensure a healthy economy in the euro zone and for the euro to thrive.
  9. Greece especially its successive governments and irresponsible politicians have been behind the feckless borrowing and now the Greek people have to bear the burden of irresponsibility, perhaps even criminal behavior, of their leaders.
  10.  The new loans represented not a bailout for Greece but a cynical transfer of losses from the books of the private banks to the weak shoulders of the weakest of Greek citizens.
  11. The repayment schedule on the country’s €240 billion rescue package extends to 2054 and, of course, Greece has to also repay its other debt obligations.
  12. Greek debt has been steadily growing as the nation has been subjected to harsh austerity, with the nation seeing an unprecedented contraction in its economic output with all the consequences of such a downturn.
  13. The Greek government faces another crucial deadline in its interminable bail-out drama this week, as fears mount that the country could become the first developed nation to ever default on its international obligations.
  14. The terms of Greece’s existing bail-out programme stipulate that a default to the IMF would automatically constitute a default on the country’s European rescue loans.
  15. The worsening Greek debt crisis has reanimated talk within the ruling Syriza party of a snap general election if discussions with creditors fail, as the country faces a Thursday deadline to repay a €450m loan to the International Monetary Fund.
  16. The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, was scheduled to hold informal talks with the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, in Washington DC on Sunday – 5 Apr 2015 – , while warnings of early elections underscored the political unrest in Athens. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement after meeting with Varoufakis that she welcomed his confirmation that the loan payment due would be made on schedule.
  17. Beyond this week’s bill auction and the IMF repayment, Greece sees €1.4 billion of short-term Treasury bills mature on April 13, requiring the country to sell more debt to fund that, Rodriguez notes, while another €1 billion in notes matures on April 16.
  18. Meanwhile, Greece’s domestic socio-political context makes it difficult for the government to make payments to the IMF, especially as it struggles to pay salaries and finance basic social services.
  19. Greece has not received any bailout funds since August last year, and the Syriza-led government has so far failed to convince its eurozone partners to dole out remaining funds in the bailout pot.
  20. Although the exact process is uncertain, falling into a protracted arrears procedure could have major consequences for continued financial assistance from Greece’s other creditors – the European Central Bank and European Commission.
  21. “If Greece defaults to the IMF, then they are considered to be in default to the rest of the eurozone,” says Raoul Ruparel, head of economic research at Open Europe.
  22. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Moscow next week, with Russia ready to discuss easing restrictions on Greek food products, according to Russian government officials.
  23. Greece won’t default on payments to the International Monetary Fund next week even as a lack of bailout disbursements has left government coffers nearly empty, according to the minister responsible for meeting the obligations.
  24. “It is necessary to restore the Greek economy’s funding flow,” Labor Minister Panos Skourletis told the Greek Ependysi newspaper on Saturday, accusing the country’s lenders of taking advantage of Greece’s funding limits to add pressure on Athens.
  25. The interior minister suggested last week the government would prioritize wages and pensions over the IMF payment, although the government later denied that was its stance.
  26. The government is hoping approval of its reform proposals will free up the remaining aid of 7.2 billion euros (5.30 billion pounds) under its bailout and lead to the return of about 1.9 billion euros in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds.
  27. The payment to the IMF wouldn’t necessarily make it easier for Greece and its creditors to better work collaboratively to restore the country’s growth and financial viability with the euro zone.
  28. Since Tsipras took office, the chairmen of two of the largest banks, National Bank of Greece and Eurobank, have both been replaced with people who are close to the new government.
  29. Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told his Greek counterpart in February that Moscow would consider a loan to Greece if the country asked for one – an offer repeated by the Russian ambassador to Greece last week in an interview with Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
  30. The Prmie Minister of Greece will fly into Moscow today for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid ongoing concern that the Mediterranean country will run out of money this month.
  31. Alexis Tsipras’ meeting had originally been scheduled for May, but has been brought forward, raising suspicions that Greece plans to gain funding from Russia or to use relations with the country as a bargaining chip with its Eurozone partners during bailout negotiations.
  32. “While no member of the government admits to it publicly, the fostering of better relations with Russia is seen as a potential negotiating tool in relations between Greece and its lenders,” said an analyst from Greek think tank Macropolis.
  1. Greece is currently negotiating a short-term bailout extension that it doesn’t really want, offered by European institutions which don’t trust the Greek government and approved by other governments that are running out of patience.
  2. Back in the worst days of the euro crisis, it was feared that banking and sovereign default in Greece would spread to other southern European countries, causing a domino effect.
  3. But even if Greece gets the bailout deal when European finance ministers meet on April 24 (which isn’t assured), we’ll be back in the same place in about two months.

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Predicting big market crashes is a difficult business, but …

Predicting big market crashes is a difficult business, many would say impossible.

A pair of physicists drawing inspiration from the market for bitcoin, no less might be on to something.

They turned to the bitcoin market because it has a unique feature, perhaps related to the fact that it is still fairly young and exotic: Traders place their buyand sell orders early and leave them there for all to see.

Of course, the picture is constantly changing as price movements prompttraders to enter new orders.

Still, the orders visible at any moment already make it possible to predictcrashes.

In a recent paper, Donier and Bouchaud found that the market is prone to crash specifically when buy orders are scarce, and estimated how much a typical-sizesell order should move the price when matched with such buy orders.

Participants don’t place orders well in advance.

Bouchaud and some other physicists initially proposed the formula a couple of years ago, and some preliminary tests by economists on data from five historic market crashes including the crash of 1929 and the Flash Crash of May 6,2010 suggest that it has promise.

What’s not surprising is that the predictive ability comes from carefully teasing out information on emerging trading imbalances, especially the drying up of buyorders.

Now, you might assume that if the formula does turn out to work, markets willadapt and render it obsolete.

Market movements, in this sense, might not be as unpredictable as we’ve been led to think.

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Billion-dollar club in trouble ?

Like the fictional animal, unicorn companies are supposed to be rare and magical.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal compiled its ownBillion-dollar club a listof 78 venture-backed private companies with valuations of $1 billion or more.

When a company hits a billion dollar valuation, most people assume the company is stable and on a clear path to sustainable success.

The companies we pays the most attention to are consumer-facing, low-margin companies that need to get people online and using their services without spending too much on customer acquisition.

To identify companies that could be in trouble, we first looked at companies whose employee base has stopped growing or started shrinking.

So you look at some of these unicorn companies and you can see their employee count is kind of flat, or even maybe declining a lot or a little. And that’s a really bad sign because to IPO your company, you still have to begrowing pretty fast from a company perspective. Generally to grow revenue youhave to hire more people. It’s pretty uncommon to find some magical place where you can stop hiring people and your revenue still grows 100% year over year.”

The second major dead unicorn warning sign to look for: how are company’s social media mentions trending? If mentions increase and web traffic from social sites increase, then a company may be spending more on marketing.

Looking at the data, we also found patterns of companies that could be in trouble.

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Virtu Financial seeks billions from listing

Virtu Financial, a US electronic market maker, is poised for a stock marketlisting this month in a move that will test investorsattitude to the controversialpractice of high-frequency trading.
Its success or otherwise will help decide if some asset managers and long-terminvestors who are often cited as the victims of aggressive trading strategies have moved on from last year’s fracas over high-frequency trading and are nowwilling to buy shares in what would be the first listing of a proprietary electronictrading business.

A number of market participants, from traders to exchanges, have been finedby the US Securities and Exchange Commission for breaking trading rules.

Virtu is one of the largest traders in global equities, commodities and foreignexchange, making money on the difference in the spread at which assets aretraded.

It has drawn attention for its disclosure that it has lost money on just one of thelast 1,485 trading days.

Revenues at the company rose 9 per cent to $723m while net income rose 4.3per cent to $190m in 2014.

In the same period, net income rose between 44 per cent and 55 per cent, to$70-$76m. The IPO will help Silver Lake Partners, a US private equity groupand long-time backer of Virtu, sell down part of its 10.7 per cent shareholding.

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It is urgent that we make stopping attacks on schools a high priority.

Why is it that schools and schoolchildren have become such high-profile targets for murderous Islamist militants? The 147 students killed in an attack by the extremist group Al-Shabab at a college close to Kenya’s border with Somalia are only the latest victims in a succession of outrages in which educational institutions have been singled out for attack

In the past five years, there have been nearly 10,000 attacks on schools and educational establishments.

Next week will mark the first anniversary of the extremist group Boko Haram’s night-time abduction of 276 schoolgirls from their dormitories in Chibok, in Nigeria’s northern Borno state.

In the depraved minds of terrorists, each attack has its own simple logic; the latest shootings, for example, are revenge by Al-Shabab for Kenya’s intervention in Somalia’s civil war.

Until recently, we have done far too little to protect schools and prevent their militarization during times of conflict.

More recently, as more than 80 pupils in South Sudan were taking their annual exams, fighters invaded their school and kidnapped them at gunpoint.

In a year when there are more local conflicts than ever – and in which children have become among the first (and forgotten) casualties – it is urgent that we make stopping attacks on schools a high priority.

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Last Chance for Ukraine ?

Putin’s preferred outcome in Ukraine is to engineer a financial and political collapse that destabilizes the country, and for which he can disclaim responsibility, rather than a military victory that leaves him in possession of – and responsible for – part of Ukraine.

The financial collapse of which Soros had been warning for months occurred in February, when the hryvnia’s value plummeted 50% in a few days, and the National Bank of Ukraine had to inject large amounts of money to rescue the banking system.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is the aggressor, and Ukraine, in defending itself, is defending the values and principles on which the EU was built.

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BIG MARKET NEWS WEEK 06 Apr 2015 – 10 APR 2015

This Week : April 5 – April 11

 

Spain Monday, April 6, 2015 09:00
EUR Unemployment Change (Mar)
Canada Monday, April 6, 2015 16:00
CAD     Ivey Purchasing Managers Index s.a (Mar)
United States Monday, April 6, 2015 16:00
USD ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI (Mar)
Australia Tuesday, April 7, 2015 03:30
AUD Retail Sales s.a. (MoM) (Mar)
Australia Tuesday, April 7, 2015 06:30
AUD RBA Interest Rate Decision
Australia Tuesday, April 7, 2015 06:30
AUD RBA Rate Statement
Spain Tuesday, April 7, 2015 09:15
EUR Markit Services PMI (Mar)
United Kingdom Tuesday, April 7, 2015 10:30
GBP Markit Services PMI (Mar)
Japan Wednesday, April 8, 2015 n/a
JPY BoJ Monetary Policy Statement
Japan Wednesday, April 8, 2015 n/a
JPY BoJ Press Conference
United States Wednesday, April 8, 2015 20:00
USD FOMC Minutes
United Kingdom Thursday, April 9, 2015 13:00
GBP BoE Interest Rate Decision (Apr 8)
United Kingdom Thursday, April 9, 2015 13:00
GBP BoE Asset Purchase Facility (Mar)
Canada Thursday, April 9, 2015 14:30
CAD Building Permits (MoM) (Feb)
United States Thursday, April 9, 2015 16:00
USD Wholesale Inventories (Jan)
China Friday, April 10, 2015 03:30
CNY Consumer Price Index (YoY) (Mar)
Switzerland Friday, April 10, 2015 07:45
CHF Unemployment Rate s.a (MoM) (Mar)
United Kingdom Friday, April 10, 2015 10:30
GBP     Manufacturing Production (MoM) (Mar)
Canada Friday, April 10, 2015 14:30
CAD Unemployment Rate (Mar)
Canada Friday, April 10, 2015 14:30
CAD Net Change in Employment (Mar)
United Kingdom Friday, April 10, 2015 16:00
GBP NIESR GDP Estimate (3M) (Mar)

 

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Quantitative easing is, by some accounts, an unorthodox monetary tool.

 

(Source : http://in-cyprus.com/quantitative-easing-redux/ )

On March 5 in Nicosia Cyprus the European Central Bank (ECB) announced the technical aspects of its much-anticipated Quantitative Easing programme, or QE.

Quantitative easing is, by some accounts, an unorthodox monetary tool. A central bank expands its balance sheet (roughly speaking, creates more money electronically), with the sole intent of buying eligible securities (i.e. high-rated debt instruments such as bonds) from selected issuers such as national governments and or intergovernmental agencies that are held by investors such as banks and pension funds.

QE: the Japanese experience

This particular monetary tool was first applied by Japan in 2001, in an effort to combat deflationary pressures in the country. In the early 2000s Japan was still reeling from the Asian Tigers crash of 1997, caused by an overexpansion of the banking sector that created asset bubbles, such as in real estate.

As these countries’ currencies collapsed in value vis-à-vis the Japanese yen, this pushed prices down and created deflationary pressures in the country.

The initial response by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) was to cut lending rates close to zero, but that proved ineffective. Timidly in 2001 the BoJ began the first modern QE programme. The rationale was that, if a central bank buys government debt from private banks and pension funds in ample amounts, these organisations flush with money will proceed to invest that in the economy, thus countering the effects of deflation and economic stagnation.

Initially, as the BoJ bought only small amounts of debt, QE proved to be ineffective, forcing the bank to stop applying the measure altogether.

With the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2012, the country revisited QE – only this time the programme was far more substantive in scope. Benefiting from the reduced interest burden to its debt, the government embarked on a massive public spending spree in productive ventures, coupled with market-oriented reforms.

Abe’s brand of economic governance (dubbed Abenomics) was welcomed by market participants and is credited with turning the tide of the ailing Japanese economy that was stagnant for almost a decade.

The same measure was applied by the US and the UK at the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. QE’s effects are debatable. Critics say it is a policy of “let’s just do it because we can’t come up with a better idea”. This is a preconception that applies almost 100% to the eurozone.

Will the eurozone’s QE work?

The ECB announced its own brand of QE called the Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP) in early 2015, announcing details in Nicosia on March 5. The intention is to purchase close to €60 billion in securities per month till at least September 2015.

As with Japan, the eurozone is faced with deflation and anaemic growth (colloquially known as stagflation). The measures applied so far by the ECB – namely the Asset Backed Securities purchase programme, the (still to be launched) outright monetary transactions (OMT) programme, the long-term and targeted refinancing programmes known as LTRO-TLTRO and the securities market programme (SMP) – did little to avert stagflation.

Therefore, in the absence of better ideas, the ECB embarked on its own QE.

However, the devil is in the details. Quite unlike Japan, where the government was free to spend at will, eurozone countries are bound by the restrictive treaty-based Stability and Growth Pact criteria limiting their public deficit to 3% of GDP (for reference the Japanese deficit in 2014 was estimated at 7.6%). Therefore a public-sector spending spree is effectively out of the question.

Then there is the question of whether banks which sell their bond holdings to central banks will use that money to make credit affordable to the private sector, and in particular to non-financial, non-real estate corporations.

The UK and the US experience with QE shows that such a thing did not happen and sadly this is where increased government spending (either direct or in the form of guarantees) is needed to fill in the gap.

To date the only thing that seems to have been achieved by ECB’s QE is to drive down the price of the euro vis-à-vis other currencies. The euro dropped from 1.3945 per dollar a year ago to 1.0557 by mid-March, or by 24% year on year. This will undoubtedly make European products more attractive abroad. However, countries in recession are unlikely to benefit as they do not export much in any case.

It is still too early to judge the ECB’s QE, as the programme is just a few weeks old. The ECB launched the PSPP programme on March 9. The ECB’s weekly aggregate balance sheet (the sum of the balance sheets of all central banks participating in the euro) reveals that securities purchases increased by €31 billion in the two weeks from March 9 to March 20. In this respect, the ECB seems close to capturing its intended target of €60 billion in asset purchases per month.

Cyprus shut out of the QE programme

As noted by the Central Bank of Cyprus Governor Chrystalla Georghadji, QE programme requirements mean that a country whose credit-worthiness is rated below investment grade by all credit agencies and which is under an adjustment programme can benefit from the PSPP programme only if the Troika positively concludes its review.

In this respect Cyprus is effectively shut out of the PSPP programme as, at the time of writing, the MPs had ignobly resisted voting in the new foreclosures framework which has been a requirement of the bailout programme’s Memorandum of Understanding since its first draft in late 2012.

According to the Central Bank governor, the Cyprus banks could potentially benefit by as much as €500 million from the programme.

 

 

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