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28 Abril de 2008 PRENSA INTERNACIONAL PERIODICO TITULAR Loan Industry Fighting rules on Mortgages WASHINGTON — The mortgage industry, facing the prospect of tougher regulations for its central role in the housing crisis, has begun an intensive campaign to fight back. As the Federal Reserve completes work on rules to root out abuses by lenders, its plan has run into a buzz saw of criticism from bankers, mortgage brokers and other parts of the housing industry. One common industry criticism is that at a time of tight credit, tighter rules could make many mortgages more expensive by creating more paperwork and potentially exposing lenders to more lawsuits. To the chagrin of consumer groups that have complained that the proposed rules are not strong enough, the industry’s criticism has already prompted the Fed to consider narrowing the scope of the plan so it applies to fewer loans. The debate over new mortgage standards comes in response to a severe crisis in the housing and financial markets that many economists trace back to overly loose credit and abusive loans. Those practices, combined with low interest rates, led to inflated market values that have declined rapidly in recent months as investors have begun to lose confidence in the financial instruments tied to those loans. Continental calls off merger talks with United Continental Airlines brought its merger talks with United Airlines to an abrupt end on Sunday amid concerns for the rival US carrier’s financial strength in the face of record fuel costs and waning demand for air travel. United and Continental have held preliminary discussions for more than a year, and the pace of the negotiations quickened this month with Delta Air Lines’ agreement to merge with Northwest Airlines. But United stunned investors last week with a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, triggering a 37 per cent drop in its shares and casting doubt on whether it has enough cash to endure an industry-wide downturn and meet its debt covenants. The shortfall gave Continental pause, too, and additional due diligence into United’s finances and outlook convinced its top executives at the weekend to recommend abandoning the talks, people familiar with the matter said. El jefe de Al Qaeda en España financió a terroristas desde la cárcel Significados 'yihadistas' ya condenados movieron 2,4 millones de euros ¿Se puede servir a la guerra santa desde una prisión? La actividad yihadista de Imad Eddin Barakat, Abu Dahdah, de 45 años, jefe de Al Qaeda en España condenado a 12 años, no se detuvo pese a estar bajo una vigilancia permanente que incluye cámaras de vídeo y grabaciones telefónicas. El sirio que sembró la semilla de la que se alimentaron los autores del 11-M financió desde la cárcel a células terroristas, según asegura un auto del juez Ismael Moreno, titular del Juzgado de Instrucción número 2 de la Audiencia Nacional. Moreno señala que los sirio-españoles Abu Dahdah, Mohamed Ghaleb Kalaje, también condenado y preso, y Bassam Dalati conforman un grupo organizado que entre 2006 y 2007 28 Abril de 2008 llevaron a cabo operaciones económicas con objeto de financiar células terroristas de carácter yihadista. Se valieron de la ayuda de una de sus esposas y familiares para abrir cuentas y vaciar los fondos de una sociedad. El juez los acaba de procesar por integración en banda terrorista y colaboración con banda armada. Satellite Firm Prepares For Launches by China LOS ANGELES -- Helping to boost Beijing's commercial ambitions in space, French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications Group SA has purchased precedent-setting insurance enabling it to use Chinese rockets for future launches, according to company and industry officials. Covering as many as nine satellites, the insurance package is the first time since the 1990s that China's Long March rocket has been designated to put a large telecommunications satellite into orbit for a mainstream Western operator. Eutelsat says it has merely put in place an option for a single satellite launch by China in the 2010 time frame, but industry officials said the company's long-term satellite-construction and insurance plans suggest Europe's second-largest satellite operator is committed to eventual broader use of China's state-run rocket industry. Eutelsat for years has been trying to find a way to penetrate the Chinese market, and launch contracts are widely seen as one way to help reach that goal. Chinese launchers cost about $50 million apiece, or roughly half of the average U.S. or European heavy-lift rocket launch. Where Every Meal Is a Sacrifice Mauritania, and much of Africa, relies on imported food. As trade breaks down, destitute people face tough choices. NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania Even before he took a butcher knife to the she-goat's throat, Likbir Ould Mohamed Mahmoud knew it would only make things worse. The goat was a living bounty in this parched city on the Sahara's edge, providing the sweet milk that filled his family's stomachs at breakfast time. But as soaring food prices worldwide have hit the poorest nations of Africa the hardest, he has been forced to join many of his neighbors in slaughtering or selling off one of their only sources of wealth -- their livestock. By sacrificing the she-goat last month, the 39-year-old day laborer and goatherd traded the family's morning milk for dinner meat. It lasted a few days. With the family unable to afford skyrocketing prices for basic foods, he said, his two young children now cry in the morning from hunger. One recent morning, he could take it no more. He took the goat's kid -- one of the last two animals in his flock -- to the squalid livestock market here in the hopes of selling it to buy food. "Everything -- the wheat, rice, sugar and animal feeds -- is higher priced than I have ever seen them before," he said. "What will we do? Soon we will have nothing left to sell." 28 Abril de 2008 PRENSA INTERNACIONAL / REVISTAS * REVISTA NOTA TITULAR The Incredibly Shrinking Democrats "This election," Bill Clinton said in the hours before the Pennsylvania primary, "is too big to be small." It was a noble sentiment, succinctly stated, and the core of what Democrats believe — that George W. Bush has been a historic screwup as President, that there are huge issues to be confronted this year. But it was laughable as well. The Pennsylvania primary had been a six-week exercise in diminution, with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — and Bill Clinton too — losing altitude and esteem on an almost daily basis. Even as he spoke, the former President was in the midst of a tiny, self-inflicted absurdity, having claimed in a radio interview that the Obama campaign had played the "race card" against him. And that was the least of the damage. Hillary Clinton won a convincing victory in Pennsylvania, but it came at a significant cost to the Clinton family's reputation and to the Democratic Party. She won by throwing the "kitchen sink" at Obama, as her campaign aides described it. Her campaign had been an assault on Obama's character flaws, real and imagined, rather than on matters of substance. Clinton also suffered a bizarre self-inflicted wound, having reimagined her peaceful landing at a Bosnian airstrip in 1996 as a battlefield scene complete with sniper fire. After six weeks of this, according to one poll, 60% of the American people considered her "untrustworthy," a Nixonian indictment. Only in America Barack Obama is a Niebuhr-reading ESPN watcher. The origins of his troubles with the 'other' tag. Evan Thomas, Holly Bailey and Richard Wolffe There was a time, not so long ago, when the advisers to John McCain worried a great deal about running against Barack Obama. "We'll never get those kind of crowds," a McCain aide admitted, almost mournfully, to a NEWSWEEK reporter as they stood watching television coverage of a packed Obama rally in South Carolina last January. Obama seemed to have a kind of transcendent power, an ability to convince voters that he was not just another politician. Most McCain aides at the time wanted to run against Hillary Clinton, whom they regarded as a traditional tax-and-spend Democrat with unusually high negative ratings. But lately, McCain aides have been making gleeful jokes about Obama. On the campaign trail, at dinner with reporters, they sometimes order the arugula salad, poking fun at some comments Obama made last summer in Iowa ("Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?"). "Do you see how much they are charging for this?" a McCain aide asked a reporter at one such dinner at a restaurant, pointing to the menu and feigning shock. The rise of the Gulf The Gulf is managing its wealth better during this boom than it did during the last one Justin PumfreyMOST countries earn their keep through effort and ingenuity. Those of the 28 Abril de 2008 Gulf owe their living to geological serendipity. The harder China works, the faster India grows, the higher oil prices climb. The Gulf swells with confidence or despair depending on the price of ―Arabian light‖ or ―Oman blend‖. Five years ago, though up from its $9 low in the 1990s, the oil price stood at a mere $26 a barrel. Many of the Gulf's governments were indebted and insecure. Saudi Arabia was facing an al-Qaeda insurgency. Expatriates, used to a secure if sequestered life, tried not to think about the tanks parked outside their compounds. Now the same oil fetches over $100 a barrel and confidence has returned. The insurgency in Saudi Arabia has been quashed. The Gulf is once again a source of envy more than concern (see article). Surely only good can come from so much cash? Hardly. In the 1970s the Gulf's money was a disaster for Latin America, for, recycled through Western banks, it caused a decade-long debt crisis. The Gulf itself suffered by inflicting stagflation on the West, thus causing a 20- year-long slump in oil prices. The Brothers Behind Ultimate Fighting Matthew Miller 04.16.08, 6:00 PM ET Billionaire brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta made their first fortunes in casinos. Then in 2001 they paid $2 million for a violent fighting outfit called Ultimate Fighting Championship-- and built it into a money machine. These days, UFC controls more than 90% of the "mixed martial arts" industry, and is worth perhaps $1 billion. Ultimate Cash Machine Matthew Miller 05.05.08, 12:00 AM ET Casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta bought a violent fight club called Ultimate Fighting Championship--and built it into a billion-dollar sports empire. On the evening before the Super Bowl a mix of celebrities (including home run king Barry Bonds and hip-hop impresario Jay-Z), high rollers and rabid fans crammed into the 12,000- seat arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Like spectators at a gladiator fight, they were there to witness the highly charged and bizarre spectacle of men bloodying each other in what's known as mixed martial arts. It was the latest fightfest staged by Ultimate Fighting Championship, a Las Vegas company that started as a smutlike fight club that's now worth maybe $1 billion and is drawing competitors like flies to blood. FORTUNE 500 Our annual ranking of America's largest corporations Rank Company Revenues ($ millions) Profits ($ millions) 1 Wal-Mart Stores 378,799.0 12,731.0 2 Exxon Mobil 372,824.0 40,610.0 3 Chevron 210,783.0 18,688.0 4 General Motors 182,347.0 -38,732.0 5 ConocoPhillips 178,558.0 11,891.0 6 General Electric 176,656.0 22,208.0 7 Ford Motor 172,468.0 -2,723.0 8 Citigroup 159,229.0 3,617.0 9 Bank of America Corp. 119,190.0 14,982.0 10 AT&T 118,928.0 11,951.0 28 Abril de 2008 The Midas of Misery Vulture investors are a changing breed. The new opportunists, with Harbinger's Phil Falcone in the vanguard, have more clout and more imagination. And they just might kick-start the economy While Wall Street panicked over the fate of Bear Stearns (BSC) in mid-March, hedge fund manager Philip A. Falcone enjoyed a notably successful week. The founder of Harbinger Capital Partners made tens of millions of dollars on an earlier wager that Bear and other financial stocks would collapse. Then on Mar.17 he scored a coup at the financially struggling New York Times when publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. agreed to add two of Falcone's allies to the board. Days later, the Federal Communications Commission sold off a block of wireless spectrum for billions, dramatically boosting the value of spectrum that Falcone had purchased on the cheap. Falcone is a Midas of Misery. With $19 billion—nearly 760 times the grubstake he started out with seven years ago—he is snapping up troubled assets in bankruptcy, shorting distressed bonds, and using huge stock positions to agitate for change at underperforming companies. His holdings read like a who's who of market castoffs: media companies, utilities, and steelmakers. Last year Harbinger netted $11 billion, thanks in large part to Falcone's gutsy bet against all things subprime. His personal windfall of $1.7 billion made him one of the highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2007. "He will look at anything," says one investment banker who works with Falcone. "If it's cheap, he'll buy it." 28 Abril de 2008 INDICE GENERAL TEMA Un exceso de 2.500 millones El Pais Medio millar de personas protesta en la Cañada Real contra los derribos El Pais Chávez ataca de nuevo El Pais El petróleo sube casi tres dólares El Pais Chávez Warns of Takeover Of Sidor if Deal Isn't Made WSJ New Delhi's Food Failure WSJ ELECTRICIDAD The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change WSJ 25% Of UK Natural Gas Supply Lost On Forties Pipeline Closure WSJ Major British pipeline hours from closure WPost Reward, and Risk, on the Frontiers WPost Screen wars FT Tokyo focused on boosting service sector growth FT FT REPORT - RISK MANAGEMENT 2008: Big names, attractive targets FT Venezuela's Chavez threatens to expropriate Sidor NYTimes 28 Abril de 2008 PRENSA INTERNACIONAL ELECTRICIDAD Un exceso de 2.500 millones JESÚS MOTA La abogacía del Estado informa de que las eléctricas deben liquidar los CTC 27/04/2008 La Abogacía del Estado ha dictaminado que existen razones para reclamar la liquidación de los conocidos Costes de Transición a la Competencia (CTC), concedidos graciosamente por el ministro Josep Piqué en 1998 a las empresas eléctricas como una compensación al supuesto deterioro competitivo de sus activos. Considera la abogacía, a instancias del Ministerio de Industria y de la Comisión Nacional de la Energía (CNE), que las eléctricas han percibido de la tarifa, es decir, de los consumidores, más dinero del que les correspondía. Según los cálculos del equipo ministerial de Clos, las eléctricas deben unos 2.500 millones de euros. El informe de la Abogacía del Estado no entra en el cálculo de esa deuda -parece que sólo Iberdrola tendría que devolver unos mil millones de euros-, pero avala cualquier reclamación del Gobierno sobre ese dinero. La expresión más correcta sería "obliga", porque si el exceso de dinero percibido por las compañías no se reclama, bien podría pensarse en un caso de negligencia administrativa. Es oficial, por tanto, que la desaparición de los CTC, decidida en tiempos de Antonio Fernández Segura como secretario general de Energía, requería una liquidación previa para no perjudicar a los consumidores. Esa liquidación ofrece al menos dos puntos de interés. Permitirá reducir la pesada carga del llamado déficit de tarifa, unos 12.500 millones de euros acumulados al finalizar 2008, un efecto perverso del fraudulento sistema inventado por el PP para calcular el precio de la electricidad. La ocurrencia popular, consistente en presumir de tarifas reducidas por el método de trasladar al futuro, es decir, a otros gobiernos y consumidores, el coste real de producción, contó con la frívola colaboración del primer gobierno de Rodríguez Zapatero, que se negó a subir el precio de la electricidad y a sustituir el ridículo mercado minorista cuyos precios se apañan las eléctricas con sus propias filiales. En buena lógica, los 12.500 millones que adeudarán los consumidores a finales de este año deberían reducirse en los 2.500 millones mencionados y en los 1.074 millones de euros correspondientes a los derechos de emisión de gases de efecto invernadero que también tienen que restituir las compañías. La pringosa connivencia del PP con los grupos eléctricos y la incapacidad de los ministerios de Montilla y Clos para articular una política tarifaria coherente han convertido la tarifa eléctrica en un enredo laberíntico. Las salidas, como en los aviones y en las casas del terror, están marcadas: o se sube la tarifa -para pagar el déficit a fecha de hoy, la luz tendría que encarecerse en un 30%- o se aplican otros instrumentos de extracción de ingresos que compensen la carrera imparable del endeudamiento. Durante cuatro años, la primera salida ha estado tapiada por la política presidencial de no subir las tarifas por encima del IPC. Sería una sorpresa que Miguel Sebastián imponga el criterio más racional de repercutir los costes en el consumidor. La segunda salida consistiría en aplicar tasas o impuestos que corrijan los cuantiosos beneficios que obtienen las compañías como consecuencia de las normas regulatorias. Véase al respecto el caso de la energía nuclear, cuyas instalaciones están amortizadas y vueltas a amortizar varias veces a costa del recibo de la luz y que, sin embargo, siguen beneficiándose de una distancia sideral entre el coste de producción de la electricidad nuclear -unos 20 euros por megavatio- y el precio de mercado, que 28 Abril de 2008 ronda los 60 euros por megavatio. La tentación de repartir ese margen, excesivo a todas luces, para que una parte revierta en los usuarios podría satisfacerse mediante la aplicación de un impuesto extraordinario. Advertencia: los teóricos de la regulación saben que este tipo de impuestos extraordinarios tienen dificultades, a veces insoslayables, de aplicación. Los activos de generación hidroeléctrica presentan las mismas disfunciones regulatorias. Están tan amortizados o más que los nucleares y se benefician de la misma distorsión de precios generada por un precio mayorista que se fabrican las empresas y una tarifa que fija el Gobierno antes de conocer ese coste. La generación hidroeléctrica en España presenta, además, un fenómeno casi paranormal: las empresas -Iberdrola es la más beneficiada- no pagan o lo hacen con cantidades irrisorias, próximas al expolio, el agua que utilizan para generar kilovatios. Esa agua está sometida a un régimen de concesión pública cuyas condiciones se desconocen. Cualquier sistema racional concedería el agua mediante un sistema de subastas que ponga en valor la propiedad pública que aproxime los costes de producción a los del mercado, como le gusta al presidente de Iberdrola, Ignacio Sánchez. El enredo tarifario medirá, y éste es el segundo punto de interés, el temple político y técnico de Sebastián y sus colaboradores. O, más de lo mismo, con tarifas políticas de mírame y no me toques mientras sigue creciendo la exorbitante deuda artificial con las compañías y sumisión perruna a la inexpugnable cuenta de resultados de las empresas -no sea que se vayan a desplomar en Bolsa- o una política de precios más coherente que defienda los dineros de los consumidores y su derecho, sin ir más lejos, a cambiar de empresa distribuidora. El mismo carácter, por cierto, que será necesario para decir de una vez el almacén nuclear centralizado, que ya es urgente. Las piscinas de las centrales se llenan de residuos, el contrato con Francia está a punto de expirar y el famoso ATC sigue en el limbo de los justos, o, mejor, de los torpes. Por cierto, ¿qué se hizo del Libro Blanco de Electricidad redactado por Ignacio Pérez Arriaga? ¿Alguien puede dar cuenta política de su desaparición? - Medio millar de personas protesta en la Cañada Real contra los derribos ELENA G. SEVILLANO - Los vecinos sospechan que el Ayuntamiento demolerá más casas en unos días Madrid 27/04/2008 Mónica vive con miedo. Teme quedarse, de un día para otro, sin techo bajo el que dormir. Su casa, en el sector 5 de la Cañada Real Galiana, el más cercano al distrito de Vicálvaro, está amenazada por una notificación de derribo. "Fui al juzgado y me dicen que está parado, pero después de lo que pasó el martes...". Lo que pasó el martes tiene en vilo a media Cañada: las excavadoras municipales demolieron cuatro casas. Sin apenas dar tiempo a sus ocupantes para recoger sus pertenencias. Mónica lo contaba ayer frente a una de ellas, en el número 71 bis. Del edificio amarillo de dos plantas donde vivía Ali El Moussati con su mujer y sus cinco hijos sólo queda una montaña de ruinas. Allí acabó ayer una manifestación que concentró a medio millar de personas para protestar contra los derribos. Los habitantes de la Cañada, entre los que había mayoría de origen marroquí, caminaron varios kilómetros desde el sector más cercano a Coslada. Muchos se fueron sumando a la marcha a medida 28 Abril de 2008 que pasaba por delante de sus viviendas. En las pancartas se leía "Pagamos impuestos, tenemos derechos" y "Son casas, no chabolas", entre otros lemas. A pesar de que la manifestación no estaba autorizada, la policía no apareció por allí. La familia de Ali duerme ahora justo enfrente, en casa de una de las hijas, ya casada. Se han juntado 11 personas. Ayer, Ali enseñaba la portada de un periódico local que mostraba, todavía en pie, su "chalé, de 300 metros construidos". La mirada pasaba alternativamente de la foto al montón de escombros en que se han convertido los "40 millones de pesetas" (unos 240.400 euros) que invirtió en la vivienda. "Nadie me dijo que no podía construir aquí. Yo no ocupé nada, le compré la parcela a un español". Ali, que lleva 32 años en España trabajando en la construcción, es el vicepresidente de la asociación de vecinos del sector 5. La amenaza de nuevas demoliciones -los vecinos hablan de una veintena, que podrían empezar mañana- ha calado entre los habitantes de la Cañada. Aunque las órdenes judiciales han comenzado a llegar al sector 5, el más cercano a Valdemingómez (la zona más degradada), en la marcha de ayer participaron vecinos de toda la Cañada. También de los tramos donde nada hace sospechar que las edificaciones son ilegales: casas bien cuidadas, tendido eléctrico, naves de empresas... "Nosotros queremos ser legales, como todo el mundo", decía ayer Joaquín Jiménez, que vive en el sector 4 desde hace 30 años. "Solicitamos la electricidad a Unión Fenosa y el agua al Canal, pero nos dijeron que los municipios no les dan licencia para tirar las líneas". Los vecinos piden una solución negociada. Están dispuestos a pagar por el terreno. O al menos, que les indemnicen por los derribos. Mientras, la situación es paradójica. Cuarenta mil personas viven de manera ilegal, pinchando el agua y la luz, pero reconocidos por los ayuntamientos mediante el padrón y el impuesto de bienes inmuebles. Con el recibo del IBI en la mano, Ali no podía apartar los ojos de la que fue su casa: "Y ahora, ¿adónde voy?" Chávez ataca de nuevo CLODOVALDO Venezuela emprende una segunda ronda de nacionalizaciones HERNÁNDEZ 27/04/2008 Aún no se sabe con precisión cuánto dinero costará la segunda oleada de nacionalizaciones que ha emprendido el Gobierno de Venezuela desde que Hugo Chávez fue reelegido, en diciembre de 2006, y emprendió su avance hacia lo que él mismo ha bautizado como "socialismo del siglo XXI". Fernando Stefan, presidente de la Cámara de Comercio de Maracaibo, capital del petrolero Estado de Zulia, declaró al diario regional La Verdad que el coste, según sus proyecciones, pasará de los 4.200 millones de dólares (unos 2.800 millones de euros). La patronal Fedecámaras, por su lado, ha cogido la calculadora y suma estas cantidades, aún hipotéticas, a las que ya ha desembolsado el Gobierno en las anteriores nacionalizaciones, con fecha de 2007. ¿El resultado? Unos 7.000 millones de dólares, es decir, 3,5 puntos del PIB. La primera oleada incluyó la compra de la empresa telefónica CANTV, cuya mayoría accionarial estaba en manos de la estadounidense Verizon. También lo pagado por las compañías Electricidad de Caracas y Servicio Eléctrico de Nueva Esparta. 28 Abril de 2008 Este año comenzó la segunda ola. Luego de varios meses de desabastecimiento de leche, Chávez nacionalizó la firma Lácteos Los Andes para transformarla en una "empresa socialista". Con esa operación, el Gobierno controla el 35% del mercado nacional de leche pasteurizada. Otra empresa que ha sido traspasada al sector público es el Centro de Almacenes Congelados, que pasará a ser un estratégico eslabón de la cadena de frío de las redes estatales de distribución de alimentos Mercal y PDVAL. Es tal el ir y venir de cifras multimillonarias que, paradójicamente, no se produce el efecto de escándalo que los voceros opositores y empresariales, en apariencia, esperan. Además, el tema se diluye en la recurrente polémica política de los últimos años. "Ni los políticos de la derecha ni los empresarios golpistas tienen autoridad moral para criticar ese gasto. Ellos, con el sabotaje petrolero (entre finales de 2002 y comienzos de 2003), le causaron al país pérdidas por más de 10.000 millones de dólares. Ése no fue un dinero invertido, como el que está pagando ahora el Gobierno, sino echado a la basura", dijo Rubén Pérez, oyente de un programa radial participativo de la gubernamental Cadena Mundial. En medio de esa feria de cálculos y controversia política, los equipos oficiales negocian con el consorcio metalúrgico ítalo-argentino Techint la compra de una acería, y con las cementeras Cemex (mexicana), Lafarge (francesa) y Holcim (suiza) la adquisición de todos sus activos o la formación de empresas mixtas en las que el Estado tendría al menos el 60% de las acciones. Lo que sí está claro es de dónde va a salir la gran cantidad de dinero requerida para pagar las nacionalizaciones: del recientemente aprobado impuesto a los precios extraordinarios del petróleo. Se trata de un sistema impositivo de dos niveles de sobretasa que se aplicarán a las empresas petroleras cuando el precio del crudo venezolano esté sobre los 70 y los 100 dólares el barril. Se espera que este mismo año ese mecanismo recaude al menos 9.000 millones de dólares, porque el precio ya está, de largo, por encima de 70 y la semana pasada cruzó la barrera de los 100. Las nacionalizaciones llevadas a cabo por Chávez desde enero de 2007 han sido, en general, aceptadas por las empresas afectadas. La única que abrió un proceso jurídico contra ellas, la estadounidense Exxon Mobil, que operaba en la Faja del Orinoco, fracasó en su intento de embargar bienes del gigante venezolano PDVSA. Con las nacionalizaciones hechas realidad, la controversia deriva en ejercicio de profecía. Chávez y sus partidarios apuestan porque las empresas nacionalizadas se convertirán en bastiones de una economía robusta y libre de las mezquindades propias del capitalismo. Los adversarios pronostican que volverán los tiempos en los que el Gobierno poseía empresas en innumerables campos, en la mayoría de las cuales terminó reinando la corrupción y la pésima gerencia. - El petróleo sube casi tres dólares W. OPPENHEIMER - 26/04/2008 Londres El petróleo crudo brent del mercado de Londres subió ayer casi tres dólares hasta alcanzar los 117,32 dólares por barril debido al efecto combinado de la tensión militar en el Golfo Pérsico y sendas 28 Abril de 2008 huelgas en Nigeria y en Escocia. Durante el día el precio llegó a alcanzar los 117,52 dólares por barril. La abrupta subida se produjo después de que un barco de guerra estadounidense lanzara disparos de advertencia contra una patrullera iraní, haciendo temer una repentina escalada de la tensión en el Golfo con consecuencias para las exportaciones de crudo. A la subida contribuyeron también los problemas de producción que se viven en Nigeria debido a una huelga de los trabajadores de Exxon Mobil y el inicio de una huelga en la refinería de BP en Grangemouth, en el centro de Escocia. La huelga se confirmó ayer con el inicio del cierre de Grangemouth debido a la convocatoria de dos días de huelga. El paro significa que la planta tardará luego una semana en ponerse en marcha. Si los trabajadores no respetan los servicios mínimos decretados por la empresa para evitar la paralización total de la planta por razones de seguridad, Grangemouth tardaría un mes en volver a producir. La huelga puede obligar a BP a reducir o paralizar la producción en 70 plataformas petrolíferas del mar del Norte, lo que significa reducir en un tercio la producción habitual. Las plataformas dependen del gas y la electricidad que se produce en Grangemouth. En Nigeria, el Movimiento para la Emancipación del Delta del Níger ha contribuido también a alterar la producción en ese país con un ataque a una conducción de petróleo de Royal DutchShell en ese país. El precio de 117,52 dólares alcanzado ayer se queda muy lejos de los 98 dólares por barril, en media anual, con que el Gobierno español ha elaborado sus nuevas previsiones económicas. Chávez Warns of Takeover Of Sidor if Deal Isn't Made A WSJ NEWS ROUNDUP April 28, 2008 CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is threatening to expropriate Venezuela's largest steelmaker because he says shareholders are demanding excessive compensation for the company's nationalization. Mr. Chávez dismissed a request by the parent company of Siderúrgica del Orinoco, or Sidor, for $4 billion in exchange for its 60% stake in the steelmaker. Mr. Chávez ordered Sidor nationalized earlier this month, taking sides with workers who fought for improved salaries and benefits. His government is negotiating the price it will pay to shareholders to take over the company. Mr. Chávez said Sunday that he may expropriate the company outright if the two sides fail to reach an agreement. "I'm not going to pay $4 billion for that company," Mr. Chávez said during his Sunday radio and television program. "If they don't want to reach an agreement with us, I'll sign an expropriation decree. I'll take immediate control over the company." The 60% stake in Sidor held by Luxembourg-based Ternium SA is worth $800 million, Basic Industries Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said on state television Saturday. According to the state news agency, Mr. Sanz also said the government would deduct from the $800 million outstanding labor and financial debts, including $200 million the company owes to Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, the state oil company. 28 Abril de 2008 Ternium is controlled by Argentine-Italian conglomerate Techint Group. Besides Ternium, Sidor shareholders include the Venezuelan government, with 20%, and current and former employees, who hold the rest. The company is the largest steel producer in Venezuela, with output in 2007 reaching 4.3 million tons of liquid steel. The nationalization of key industries has been a centerpiece of Mr. Chávez's socialist agenda. The government seized majority control last year of joint oil ventures previously controlled by some of the world's top oil companies, along with the country's largest telecommunications and electricity companies. Mr. Chávez also announced plans earlier this month to nationalize major cement companies. New Delhi's Food Failure By SWAMINATHAN S. April 28, 2008 ANKLESARIA AIYAR FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA Inflation in India has shot up to 7.4%, and food prices are skyrocketing. To control prices, the government has banned the export of wheat, pulses and all rice, save the luxury basmati variety. But all those measures are at best beside the point and at worst counterproductive. The real solution is to reform the faulty policies that have led to stagnation in food-grain production for almost a decade. That India finds itself in this position at all is embarrassing. The 1970s Green Revolution, a joint success of government investment and farmer entrepreneurship, made India self-sufficient in food. The government invested in research and development, irrigation, rural electrification and rural roads, and provided seeds, water and transportation. Farmers responded well, and by the 1990s, India became a big rice exporter and an occasional exporter of maize and wheat. But the steady increase of yields ground to a halt by 2000. Government scientists failed to deliver new, more productive seeds for grains like rice and wheat – which the private sector tends not to research because farmers can reuse seeds crop after crop, thus cutting into demand for the private companies' products. The emphasis of the government's rural agricultural spending shifted from investment to subsidies, providing palliatives instead of increasing the production base. Reliance on government also put agricultural policy at the mercy of politicians, with predictable results. For example, in many states, politicians offered to have the public sector pay for canal water, driving the cost down to almost zero. As a result, canal revenues are insufficient to maintain existing canal systems, which are deteriorating. This kind of interference creates a vicious cycle of market distortion. Political competition has also made rural electricity free, or almost free, so farmers often grow ecologically inappropriate, water- guzzling crops like rice and sugarcane in states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, where rainfall is not enough to recharge aquifers. Similarly, free electricity provides a massive and rising subsidy for excessive pumping. As a result, with the exception of the eastern part of the country, the water table is falling all across India, causing wells that have traditionally yielded drinking water to run dry. Small farmers' shallow tube wells have also run dry, leaving only rich farmers, with deep tube wells, able to get water. Investment in deep tube wells is rendering useless shallower wells that earlier irrigated millions of 28 Abril de 2008 acres. But no political party dares restrict pumping, fearing the wrath of rural voters. India also provides a huge subsidy for nitrogenous fertilizers, whose prices have been frozen for years, but it provides very limited for phosphoric and potassium fertilizers. So Indian farmers use too much nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium, and this has steadily reduced soil quality. Nor is what we'd think of as "agricultural policy" the only culprit – plenty of other government programs also hurt agriculture. Rural roads are highly correlated with buoyant agriculture. But the government's use of road building as a form of rural employment guarantee led for decades to construction of labor- intensive dirt roads to create more jobs. Unfortunately, the dirt roads are washed away each monsoon. Only now is a new Prime Minister's Rural Roads Program starting to build high-quality paved roads which will be durable. Huge waste and inefficiency in the delivery of government service has compounded the problem. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi estimated in the late 1980s that of the billions spent on rural schemes, only 15% reached the intended beneficiaries. *** Then there are the ways government increases food prices on the way to the table from the farm. During the Green Revolution, central and state governments created an extensive network of mandis, or government-run markets, which included private traders as well as government purchasing agencies and which supplied the national network of ration shops providing grain to urban dwellers, with highly subsidized prices to the poor. State governments banned the direct purchase of produce from farmers, supposedly to protect the farmers from rapacious traders. As a result, large food-processing corporations and retailers cannot buy directly from farmers, seriously reducing net prices to farmers while increasing prices for consumers. New Delhi has urged the states to abolish this marketing law, but progress has been spotty because of the political power of trader lobbies. And New Delhi creates problems of its own – the central government does not allow foreign investment into retail markets, save for single-brand chains such as a Nike store. In developing countries like Indonesia, foreign-owned supermarkets have provided farmers with high-quality seeds and advice, and sold their produce at good prices. But in India, left- wingers who hate multinational corporations and Indian middlemen who fear losing business have joined forces to block the entry of foreign investors. India's current food price problem isn't a market failure. Rather, it's a government failure to allow markets to work. The only sustainable solution is to pull back the subsidies and protections. But sustainability is the last thing on the minds of politicians competing to win the next election with ever- higher subsidies. Mr. Aiyar is a research fellow at the Cato Institute. The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change By STEVEN F. HAYWARD April 28, 2008 The usual chorus of environmentalists and editorial writers has chimed in to attack President Bush's recent speech on climate change. In his address of April 23, he put forth a goal of stopping the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2025. 28 Abril de 2008 "Way too little and way too late," runs the refrain, followed by the claim that nothing less than an 80% reduction in emissions by the year 2050 will suffice – what I call the "80 by 50" target. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have endorsed it. John McCain is not far behind, calling for a 65% reduction. We all ought to reflect on what an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 really means. When we do, it becomes clear that the president's target has one overwhelming virtue: Assuming emissions curbs are even necessary, his goal is at least realistic. The same cannot be said for the carbon emissions targets espoused by the three presidential candidates and environmentalists. Indeed, these targets would send us back to emissions levels last witnessed when the cotton gin was in daily use. Begin with the current inventory of carbon dioxide emissions – CO2 being the principal greenhouse gas generated almost entirely by energy use. According to the Department of Energy's most recent data on greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006 the U.S. emitted 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or just under 20 tons per capita. An 80% reduction in these emissions from 1990 levels means that the U.S. cannot emit more than about one billion metric tons of CO2 in 2050. Were man-made carbon dioxide emissions in this country ever that low? The answer is probably yes – from historical energy data it is possible to estimate that the U.S. last emitted one billion metric tons around 1910. But in 1910, the U.S. had 92 million people, and per capita income, in current dollars, was about $6,000. By the year 2050, the Census Bureau projects that our population will be around 420 million. This means per capita emissions will have to fall to about 2.5 tons in order to meet the goal of 80% reduction. It is likely that U.S. per capita emissions were never that low – even back in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood. The only nations in the world today that emit at this low level are all poor developing nations, such as Belize, Mauritius, Jordan, Haiti and Somalia. If that comparison seems unfair, consider that even the least-CO2 emitting industrialized nations do not come close to the 2050 target. France and Switzerland, compact nations that generate almost all of their electricity from nonfossil fuel sources (nuclear for France, hydro for Switzerland) emit about 6.5 metric tons of CO2 per capita. The daunting task of reaching one billion metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2050 comes into even greater relief when we look at the American economy, sector-by-sector. The Energy Department breaks down emissions into residential, commercial (office buildings, etc.), industrial, and transportation (planes, trains and automobiles); electricity consumption is apportioned to each. Consider the residential sector. At the present time, American households emit 1.2 billion tons of CO2 – 20% higher than the entire nation's emissions must be in 2050. If households are to emit no more than their present share of CO2, emissions will have to be reduced to 204 million tons by 2050. But in 28 Abril de 2008 2050, there will be another 40 million residential households in the U.S. Today, the average residence in the U.S. uses about 10,500 kilowatt hours of electricity and emits 11.4 tons of CO2 per year (much more if you are Al Gore or John Edwards and live in a mansion). To stay within the magic number, average household emissions will have to fall to no more than 1.5 tons per year. In our current electricity infrastructure, this would mean using no more than about 2,500 KwH per year. This is not enough juice to run the average hot water heater. You can forget refrigerators, microwaves, clothes dryers and flat screen TVs. Even a house tricked out with all the latest high-efficiency EnergyStar appliances and compact fluorescent lights won't come close. The same daunting energy math applies to the industrial, commercial and transportation sectors as well. The clear implication is that we shall have to replace virtually the entire fossil fuel electricity infrastructure over the next four decades with CO2-free sources – a multitrillion dollar proposition, if it can be done at all. Natural gas – the preferred coal substitute of the moment – won't come close. If we replaced every single existing coal plant with a natural gas plant, CO2 emissions from electric power generation alone would still be more than twice the 2050 target. Most environmentalists remain opposed to nuclear power, of course. It is unlikely that renewables – wind, solar, and biomass – can ever make up more than about 20% of our electricity supply. Suppose, however, that a breakthrough in carbon sequestration, a revival of nuclear power, and a significant improvement in the cost and effectiveness of renewables were to enable us to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity production. That would still leave transportation. Right now our cars and trucks consume about 180 billion gallons of motor fuel. To meet the 2050 target, we shall have to limit consumption of gasoline to about 31 billion gallons, unless a genuine carbon-neutral liquid fuel can be produced. (Ethanol isn't it.) To show how unrealistic this is, if the entire nation drove nothing but Toyota Priuses in 2050, we'd still overshoot the transportation emissions target by 40%. The enthusiasm for an 80% reduction target is often justified on grounds that national policy should set an ambitious goal. However, claims on behalf of alternative energy sources – biofuels, hydrogen, windpower and so forth – either do not match up to the scale of the energy required, or are not cost- competitive in current form. How on God's green earth will we make up the difference? Someone should put this question to the candidates. And not let them slide past it with glittering generalities. Mr. Hayward is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of the annual "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," from which this article is adapted 25% Of UK Natural Gas Supply Lost On Forties Pipeline Closure DOW JONES April 27, 2008 9:45 a.m. NEWSWIRES LONDON (Dow Jones)--Natural gas flow from the U.K. North Sea fell by 59 million cubic meters a day 28 Abril de 2008 Sunday, equivalent to just under a quarter of current demand, after the shutdown of the Forties oil pipeline system, data on the Web site of U.K. gas network operator National Grid PLC (NGG) said. National Grid data showed that the combined flow into the U.K. gas network from the St. Fergus gas terminal in Scotland, the Bacton SEAL terminal in Norfolk and the Teesside terminal in northeast England fell from around 138 mcm/day before the Forties shutdown began on Friday to 80 mcm/day at 1230 GMT Sunday. National Grid forecast U.K. demand to be 245 mcm Sunday, rising to 260 mcm Monday. The 700,000 barrel a day Forties pipeline system, which carries 40% of U.K. oil production, was fully shut down Sunday morning after a strike at the nearby Grangemouth refinery deprived the pipeline system of steam and electricity essential for its operation. The Forties pipeline carries little natural gas, but several large fields that export gas into the terminals above depend on Forties to carry away their oil. Most fields are unable to produce gas if they can't produce oil. National Grid said last week that there is little threat of natural gas shortages in the U.K. because other pipelines are available to import gas from Norway or mainland Europe and the U.K. has gas in storage. National Grid data showed imports from Continental Europe through the Interconnector pipeline rising to 8.5 mcm/day and flow from the Isle of Grain liquefied natural gas import terminal rising to 6.3 mcm/day. The U.K.'s largest storage facilities, Rough and Hornsea, haven't yet turned on. Workers at the Grangemouth refinery, operated by Ineos PLC, began a two-day strike Sunday over proposed changes to their pension scheme. Forties operator BP PLC (BP) began to shut the pipeline down Friday night ahead of the strike. BP indicated in a note to Forties users earlier this week that it could take six days for the pipeline to return to full operations. Ineos said Grangemouth, which accounts for 10% of U.K. refining capacity, could take weeks to return to normal operation. The government and petrol retailers say there is ample gasoline and diesel in storage to meet U.K. requirements, but panic buying has prompted some stations to run out of fuel in Scotland. Company Web site: http://www.nationalgrid.com Strike in Scotland closes major North Sea oil pipeline By BEN McCONVILLE Sunday, April 27, 2008; 4:02 PM The Associated Press EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Hundreds of workers at Scotland's only oil refinery on Sunday began a 48- hour strike that has forced BP PLC to shut a pipeline system that delivers almost a third of Britain's North Sea oil. BP said it had completed the closure of the Forties Pipeline System by 6 a.m., when 1,200 workers at the Grangemouth refinery in central Scotland walked off the job. The pipeline brings in 700,000 barrels of oil a day from the North Sea to BP's Kinneil plant, which is powered from the Grangemouth site. Energy industry group Oil & Gas U.K. said the strike, over pension issues, could cost $100 million a 28 Abril de 2008 day in lost production. The main effect of the walkout was likely to be felt by the British Treasury _ which relies heavily on taxes from oil production _ and at gas stations in Scotland, some of which limited purchases in anticipation of the strike. The government urged motorists not to hoard fuel, saying there would be enough to go around. It wants to avoid a repeat of scenes in 2000 when motorists were forced to line up at gas stations as truckers angry at heavily taxed fuel brought Britain to a standstill by blockading refineries. "There is plenty of petrol and diesel in Scotland to meet demand during this period of time," the government's business secretary, John Hutton, told the British Broadcasting Corp. "But of course there is going to be a challenge if people change the way that they consume fuel." Gas stations in and around Edinburgh were limiting purchases to 20 pounds _ equivalent to $40 _ per visit Saturday, and lines of cars formed beside some pumps. A number of stations reported they had run out of gas and diesel. Some Scottish gas stations were charging 1.25 pounds _ $2.47 _ Saturday for a liter of unleaded, up from about 1.08 pounds _ $2.14 _ on Monday. The Scottish government said 72,000 tons of extra fuel was being imported from Europe to help keep the country running. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the strike was unnecessary and called for new negotiations between Grangemouth's owner, the chemical company Ineos, and the workers' union, Unite. Talks to avert a strike broke down earlier this week. The refinery strike is one of a series of labor disputes to hit Britain as the global economy weakens. A nationwide teachers' strike over pay issues shut about a third of schools across Britain on Thursday as the government tries to clamp down on public sector wage increases due to inflation fears Major British pipeline hours from closure By RAPHAEL G. SATTER Sunday, April 27, 2008; 2:50 AM The Associated Press LONDON -- Oil giant BP PLC was completing the closure of a pipeline system responsible for delivering almost a third of Britain's North Sea oil production Sunday. The closure of the Forties Pipeline System is a consequence of a 48-hour strike planned at the Grangemouth oil refinery in central Scotland on Sunday. That has already forced refinery owner Ineos to stop production at the facility, which provides electricity and steam to the pipeline. BP said the pipeline was due to completely shut down by 6 a.m. Sunday, something a British energy industry group said could cost $99 million a day in lost production. 28 Abril de 2008 Oil & Gas UK chief executive Malcolm Webb demanded the government intervene "to ensure that the country is not held to ransom in this manner," adding that the strike "is now affecting some 80 companies and their operations which are in no way connected to or involved in this dispute." The shutdown has also raised fears of gas shortages in Scotland and parts of northern England, which rely on the system for their fuel. The government wants to avoid a repeat of scenes in 2000 when motorists were forced to line up at gas stations as truckers angry at heavily taxed fuel brought Britain to a standstill by blockading refineries, and has urged drivers not to hoard gasoline. "There is plenty of petrol and diesel in Scotland to meet demand during this period of time," the government's business secretary, John Hutton, told the BBC. "But of course there is going to be a challenge if people change the way that they consume fuel." Pat Waters of the Automobile Association said he was not so sure. "I think there will be some difficulties despite the assurances," he said, adding that rationing was a possibility. Gas stations in and around Edinburgh were limiting gas purchases to $40 per visit Saturday, and lines of cars formed beside some pumps. A number of stations ran out of gas and diesel by midmorning. Some gas stations were charging $2.47 Saturday for a liter of unleaded, up from about $2.14 on Monday. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said BP was releasing extra stocks to help meet demand, and that fuel arriving by boat from European ports would also help fill the gap. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the strike was unnecessary and called for new negotiations between Ineos and the workers' union, Unite. Talks to avert a strike broke down earlier this week. Grangemouth's 1,200 workers planned the strike over pension issues, one of a series of labor disputes to hit Britain as the global economy weakens. Reward, and Risk, on the Frontiers By Jane Bryant Quinn Sunday, April 27, 2008; F10 Investing in emerging markets isn't optional anymore. Globalization means that countries once thought of as marginal are central to any smart investment plan. What's still optional -- for now, at least -- are markets characterized as "frontier." Frontier markets are young and thinly traded, with small numbers of stocks, poor regulation, unreliable financial reports and low levels of foreign ownership. In other words, mystery markets. But, like travel, they broaden the mind. 28 Abril de 2008 Who's on the frontier? Ukraine, Cyprus, Estonia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and perhaps two dozen more. Investment managers group them under acronyms: MENA, for Middle East North Africa; EMEA, for Europe (specifically, eastern Europe), Middle East and Africa. Several indexes track these new markets. The Standard & Poor's Frontier Markets Index covers 24 countries, including seven African states, but none of the oil states in the Middle East. For the oils, check a smaller S&P index called Select Frontier Total Return Index. Last November, MSCI Barra launched a 19-country index, dominated by the five oil states whose markets are open to foreigners (that excludes Saudi Arabia). Merrill Lynch added its own 17-country index in March, the Merrill Lynch Frontier Index, also dominated by oil. Each frontier country has a slightly different story, with common investment themes. There's the commodities boom -- oil, of course, but also metals and agriculture. The consumer explosion -- rising urban middle classes snapping up cell phones, cars, television and appliances. Infrastructure -- the International Monetary Fund has forgiven much of Africa's debt, leaving those governments with surpluses to invest in electricity, telecommunications and roads. Finance -- with lenders prospering. Construction -- offices and apartment buildings, airports and shipping facilities. The MENA area's national bird is the construction crane. Asset managers are pitching these markets as "uncorrelated" with those of the more developed world, meaning that stock prices there run on different tracks. They may rise when the more familiar markets are going down. In truth, however, we haven't had enough experience with frontier markets to declare them a potential cushion for bad times. A more compelling reason to invest in them is, simply, globalization. Modern commercial and consumer cultures are being created in places where they didn't exist before. The economic drivers include new trading patterns, the movement of manufacturing jobs to lower- wage countries, high commodity prices, privatization of government industries, growth in the pools of local investors, direct investment in frontier countries by foreign pools of capital (especially from China), and political and capital-market reforms. "They're where the emerging markets were 10 or 15 years ago," says Fahmi Alghussein, Morgan Stanley's head of distribution in Dubai. Economic growth rates are running at 5 percent and up, twice that of the developed world. Antoine van Agtmael, chairman of Emerging Markets Management in Arlington, has been investing in Africa for 14 years. Returns, he says, have been four times those of the traditional emerging markets. "A few years ago, you could buy Unilever Nigeria or Guinness Nigeria for peanuts," he says, "and they're well-managed companies with great products." Freebies like that are largely gone. The big promise, van Agtmael says, lies in the thousands of other companies "operating under the water line," not yet noticed by the published frontier-market indexes. 28 Abril de 2008 Not that everything is rosy along the global frontier. Vietnam's bubble ended this year in tears. There's political risk, such as the blowup after the elections in Kenya, and the risk that the boom in commodity prices will slow. Electricity shortages are damaging growth south of the Sahara. Small changes in cash flows can have a huge impact on markets because they're so thinly traded. Some frontier markets have gone very badly, says Michael Reynal, portfolio manager for Principal Global Investors, an asset-management firm based in Des Moines. "Venezuela was once the darling of emerging markets, and it is just barely coming out of a grueling period," he says. The advent of frontier-market indexes means that exchange-traded funds won't be far behind. Claymore has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to create the first one to trade in the United States -- the Claymore/BNY Frontier Select DR Index Fund, tracking a Bank of New York index of 26 companies in 11 countries. Whether it attracts enough business to become a profitable product for Claymore remains to be seen. At present, the best way to invest is through T. Rowe Price's new Africa & Middle East Fund, a no-load (no sales charge) fund, with a $2,500 minimum investment and an annual cost of 1.92 percent. Joseph Rohm, vice president of London-based T. Rowe Price International, likes the Persian Gulf oil states and Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Egypt, Zambia and South Africa. "We don't have to compromise in terms of the companies we're selecting," he says. "They're high quality in a global context. You're seeing some of the African diaspora returning home, bringing with them experience and management skills." I wouldn't want to kid you. It's an investment for crazies. But for money you'll ignore for the next 15 years, well, why not? Screen wars LEX Published: April 28 2008 03:00 | Last updated: April 28 2008 03:00 Half the British men polled in a recent survey said they would forgo sex for six months to get their hands on a 50-inch plasma TV. But will they feel the same way in the morning? Plasma, once the screen of choice for super-sized TVs, is falling out of favour. In 2006, plasma TVs outsold their liquid crystal display peers by a ratio of almost three to one in the 40-inch-plus category, according to IDC consultancy. But the dynamics reversed last year. Come 2011, IDC forecasts, just below 15m plasma TVs will be sold against 90m larger-sized LCD screens. The backlash against electricity-gobbling appliances has led commercial users to switch allegiances too. InterContinental Hotels is ripping out plasma TVs in its 585,000 rooms and replacing them with LCD screens. Manufacturers that have seen the writing on the wall include Japan's Pioneer, which last month said it would stop making plasma display panels. The case against plasma screens is twofold. They consume more electricity and suffer from "burn-in", whereby images become etched into the screen if it is left on too long - say, at airport terminals 28 Abril de 2008 showing arrival and departure times. Plasma manufacturers say the former charge is outdated piffle: the monthly cost of watching eight hours a day is much the same as a tall latte. What is indisputable, however, is that plasmas no longer win on price. Mass production means that, for 42-inch TVs, LCDs are now cheaper to buy than plasma, according to WitsView, a consultancy. All of this raises questions over the vast sums still being ploughed into plasma production. Japan's Panasonic, which has invested almost $7bn, looks particularly bold. Plans under way will ultimately increase annual capacity to 23.5m units - well in excess of IDC's projections for total sales (although Panasonic itself expects demand for 30m units in 2010). Regardless of what British men think, the likely mismatch between demand and supply could make life tricky for makers of plasma screens. Tokyo focused on boosting service sector growth Letter Published: April 28 2008 03:00 | Last updated: April 28 2008 03:00 From Mr Randall S. Jones. Sir, David Pilling correctly points out the difficulty in making international comparisons of service sector productivity levels ("Japan may be rigid but it is not inefficient", April 24). For such reasons, the 2008 OECD Economic Survey of Japan, which he cites, avoids making such comparisons. Instead, the survey focuses on the slowdown in labour productivity growth in Japan's service sector - from an annual rate of 3.5 per cent in the 1976-89 period to only 0.9 per cent between 1999 and 2004 - as a cause for concern. In contrast, productivity growth in manufacturing has remained steady at an annual rate of around 4 per cent since the 1970s. Whatever time period is chosen, the deceleration in service sector productivity growth in Japan is clear. The survey argues for a comprehensive strategy aimed at promoting competition in services by accelerating regulatory reform, removing entry barriers, strengthening competition policy and increasing international openness to trade and inflows of foreign direct investment. Indeed, in this regard, Mr Pilling's commentary shares the main policy recommendation of the survey. In addition, the survey argues for reforms in key service industries. Mr Pilling cites three of the sectors analysed in the survey, namely electricity, air transport and ports. Given the large and accelerating decline in its working-age population, sustaining improvements in Japan's living standards depends primarily on boosting productivity growth, and the scope for such gains appears largest in the service sector. The Japanese government agrees with this diagnosis as recent programmes to boost growth - such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's "New Strategy for Economic Growth" in 2006 and the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy's "Programme for Enhancing Growth Potential" in 2007 - focused on the service sector. Randall S. Jones, Head, Japan/Korea Desk, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, FT REPORT - RISK MANAGEMENT 2008: Big names, attractive targets By Jane Croft Published: Apr 28, 2008 28 Abril de 2008 The advance of globalisation means companies with far-flung operations have become targets for political extremists and terrorism. Big companies have become attractive targets for terrorism because as large commercial enterprises they are symbols of foreign influence and success and the private sector is seen as an easy target. Nick Pope, principal risk consultant at Arup, the design and business consulting group, says: "There haven't been many terrorist incidents in recent times but in many regions of the world the threat is as high as it has ever been. "While the al-Qaeda threat has been well documented, there is less information on how terrorist and other networks operate around the world where the threat may be local in nature." Companies are also exposed to threats from radical environmental groups and animal rights activists. There is also a growing threat for companies operating in certain developing countries where governments could start to seize important assets. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has nationalised the telecommunications and electricity sectors. This month he nationalised the cement industry - which came as a surprise to the three foreign cement companies that owned assets in the country. Andrew Underwood, head of political risk at insurer Hiscox, says companies can do little if a government decides to nationalise the business by force. "You can only go to international arbitration, which may win you an award. Then the issue is enforcement and possible attachment of the foreign government's assets in the event of default." he says. "Companies can take out expropriation insurance which in the past has sometimes been thought of as a luxury purchase. Recently there has been a return to 1970s-style expropriation and governments have taken assets, which is bad news for the investor," says Mr Underwood. "If shareholders know that insurance was available but the company did not take it out, they could potentially sue," he adds. Experts say asset seizures are happening because of high commodity prices, meaning foreign companies that have invested in these countries are making a lot of money from natural resources such as oil. Some governments now want to re-examine these contracts to ensure they are getting their share of growing revenues. Africa, for example, has seen an unprecedented boom in oil and gas investment. Where the continent's resources are becoming hot property, big energy producing countries are beginning to push for greater control of their own industries, much to the chagrin of the traditional oil majors. 28 Abril de 2008 Legal amendments giving Algeria the right to 51 per cent of any hydrocarbons project in the country, government plans to revisit the terms of offshore projects in Nigeria and newly tightened terms and conditions for access to Libyan oil and gas are all policies that have emerged in the past two years. Another potential risk is that of political instability which can also develop quickly in some regions and affect a company's operations. "Companies operating in a region should also be able to identify political threat levels as they develop, as this can change dramatically over time," says Mr Pope. "For example Kenya may have been a stable region for some time and then, all of a sudden, this has changed. Companies operating locally will have greater knowledge of when political elections are being held," he adds. Another growing threat over the longer term is political instability caused by high food prices. In the words of Jacques Diouf, executive director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the current crisis "is a risk for peace and stability around the world". Sharp rises in food prices have already led to protests and unrest in many countries, including Egypt, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Last month, in Haiti, protests turned violent, leading to the deaths of five people and the fall of the government. Companies may also come under pressure from growing concern about their impact on the environment. "Companies need to do extensive due diligence involving environmental studies and how they recover assets from arbitration or law suits," says one analyst. Venezuela's Chavez threatens to expropriate Sidor ASSOCIATED PRESS April 27, 2008 Filed at 8:44 p.m. ET CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to expropriate Venezuela's largest steel maker unless the soon-to-be-nationalized company revises what he called excessive compensation demands. Chavez dismissed a request made by Sidor's parent company, Luxembourg-based Ternium SA, for US$4 billion (euro2.6 billion) in exchange for its 60 percent stake in the steel maker. ''I'm not going to pay $4 billion for that company,'' Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program. ''If they don't want to reach an agreement with us, I'll sign an expropriation decree. I'll take immediate control.'' Company officials could not be reached for comment. 28 Abril de 2008 Venezuelan Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said last week that Venezuela values Ternium's stake at about US$800 million (euro513 million), but plans to pay even less after subtracting the company's outstanding debts. Chavez has made nationalizing major industries a centerpiece of his socialist agenda. His government last year seized majority control of the country's largest telecommunications and electricity companies, and of joint oil ventures previously run by some of the world's largest oil companies. Earlier this month, along with Sidor, he announced plans to nationalize cement companies including Mexico's Cemex SAB, France's Lafarge SA and Switzerland's Holcim Ltd. The government is now negotiating sale terms with the companies, which will be allowed to stay on as minority partners. Ternium SA is controlled by Argentine-Italian conglomerate Techint Group. Ternium currently owns 60 percent of Sidor, while the Venezuelan government holds 20 percent. The remainder is held by current and former employees. Venezuela is still negotiating the price it will pay to shareholders, but could expropriate the company outright if Ternium fails to reach a deal in a final meeting scheduled for Monday. Officials had recently floated the possibility of buying a 40 percent share from Ternium to give the government a majority stake, while allowing Ternium and Sidor's employees to each keep 20 percent of the venture. But Sanz said that Ternium wants between US$3.2 billion (euro2 billion) and US$4.8 billion (euro3 billion) in exchange for its full 60 percent share. Sidor -- whose formal name is Siderurgica del Orinoco -- was privatized in 1998. It turns out about 85 percent of the 5 million metric tons (5.5 million U.S. tons) of steel Venezuela produces annually, according to the Belgium-based International Iron and Steel Institute.
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