Chavez to socialize Venezuela, shuts opposition TV, promises 'permanent revolution'


Chavez Will Nationalize Power, Telecoms

By Ian James
Associated Press
Monday, January 8, 2006

President Hugo Chavez announced plans Monday to nationalize Venezuela's electrical and telecommunications companies, pledging to create a socialist state in a bold move with echoes of Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba.

Chavez, who will be sworn in Wednesday to a third term that runs until 2013, also said he wanted a constitutional amendment to eliminate the autonomy of the Central Bank and would soon ask the National Assembly, solidly controlled by his allies, to give him greater powers to legislate by presidential decree.

Thailand won't lift capital controls


From The Associated Press
Monday, January 8, 2007

Thailand has no immediate plans to lift remaining capital controls imposed last month to curb the baht's appreciation, the central bank governor said Monday amid growing calls from foreign brokers to ease the restrictions.

Bank Gov. Tarisa Watanagase told reporters that the bank was considering revisions of "minor" measures but that the baht's relative stability since controls were imposed Dec. 19 shows that the much-criticized move was effective and necessary for the time being.

Thank Goldman Sachs, not weather, for oil price plunge


Investment House
Slashed Energy
in Commodity Index

By Michael Norman
New York Post
Monday, January 8, 2007

It might be a better idea to thank Goldman Sachs, not the weather, for the recent plunge in oil prices.

While recent balmy temperatures have certainly played a role in last week's dip in oil prices, a lesser known but equally powerful move by Goldman at the start of the year might bear some responsibility as well.

Hedging hangs in the balance


By Mandi Zonneveldt
Herald-Sun, Melbourne, Australia
Monday, January 8, 2007,21985,21023721-664,00.html

Market master Warren Buffett famously said: "A group of lemmings looks like a pack of individualists compared with Wall Street when it gets a concept in its teeth." The same anecdote has been used to describe the Australian resource industry's approach to hedging -- a risk minimisation strategy.

Bolivia reported ready to increase mining taxes 600%


From Reuters
Sunday, January 7, 2007

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Bolivia plans to raise the taxes paid by mining companies six-fold in a shake-up of the industry set to be announced in the coming weeks, a newspaper reported on Sunday, citing the country's mining minister.

Digital gold and a flawed global economic order


By Benn Steil
Financial Times, London
Friday, January 5, 2007

It is remarkable how the world's short history of floating exchange rates has affected popular thinking about what is eternally normal and proper in the economic system. Recently, China-bashing U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham wrote matter-of-factly that "one of the fundamental tenets of free trade is that currencies should float."

Bond market derivatives now offer profit without risk


A Billion-Dollar Game

By John Dizard
Financial Times, London
Monday, October 23, 2006

Free money. Profit -- profit on billions of dollars of capital -- without risk. Too good to be true, right? Tell it to the people putting on "negative basis trades."

Adrian Ash: Quantum Finance and the scramble for gold


By Adrian Ash
The Market Oracle
Saturday, January 6, 2007

Only in finance do the losers get to write history. The government then prints their memoirs in the statute books, while a new volume of folly and greed is begun.

Witness Barnard's Act of 1734. It sought "to prevent the infamous practice of stock-jobbing" that had peaked and exploded with the South Sea Bubble of 1720. Investors had long since fled Change Alley, however, and gone back to trading government bonds instead.

Markets misread 'strong dollar' policy, Harvard economist says


From Reuters
Saturday, January 6, 2006

CHICAGO -- A misunderstanding by financial markets of the so-called "strong dollar" mantra preached by U.S. officials is helping keep the U.S. currency overpriced and contributing to bloated external deficits, Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein said on Saturday.

Speaking on a panel on the U.S. current account deficit at the Allied Social Sciences Conventions, Feldstein outlined several factors that are holding the dollar at an overly high, and unsustainable, level.

Wall Street Journal examines struggle to start mining in Mongolia


Mongolia Is Roiled
By Miner's Huge Plans

World-Class Deposits
Spur Battle for Spoils;
Makeover for 'Toxic Bob'

By Patrick Barta
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 4, 2007

OYU TOLGOI, Mongolia -- When Robert Friedland first set foot on this desolate land in 2001, the mining magnate saw a windswept desert, some rocks, and the opportunity to turn Mongolia into the world's next big natural-resources play.