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Bank Layoffs And Scandals Continue

barclays-bankjuniper-financial_logo_603Barclay’s (BCS) is expected to announce a plan to layoff approximately 10% of its 23,000 investment banking employees early in 2013. Although the bank has not given any official details, it is generally believed that the job cuts will happen mostly in Asia and Europe. Barclays is going through a massive overhaul following the departure of its controversial chief Bob Diamond and Chairman Marcus Agius after a series of scandals, most notably the Libor manipulation. Barclays was fined £290 million ($469 million) over the Libor case. UBS just admitted to committing fraud and settled for a $1.5 billion fine. The Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:$RBS) is likely to settle this soon.

Besides Barclays, every other major bank has been going through an “overhaul” which includes layoffs. So far, since the end of 2009, HSBC (HBC) and the Bank of America (BAC), two of the largest banks of their respective continents, have announced the biggest job cuts of 30,000 each. HSBC recently reached a record $1.92 billion settlement with U.S. regulators over money laundering and operating in violation of U.S sanctions against Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan.
Read the rest over at Seeking Alpha.

Election Jitters Have QE on Hold?

Update: This article was originally published on The Motley Fool on 11/13/2012 and events have moved forward slightly.  The Yen has indeed broken down and is very probably going to test the 84.1 peak from earlier in the year.  The Euro still needs to put in put in a weekly close above $1.28 to forestall a wash-out to $1.25, which will depend entirely on how Greece is resolved.  There are no easy answers at this point.  The conclusion for the USD, however, remains, when the Fed begins printing in earnest, the stronger ASEAN currencies and Gold will reflect it.

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If the U.S. President is truly the leader of the free world, if not the world itself, then the pronouncements of any U.S. Presidential candidate has to be taken seriously.  Mitt Romney’s statement that he would fire Ben Bernanke if elected could be seen, along with choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, as a way to assuage the ‘Ron Paul Right’ portion of the Republican Party to carry them with him to Election Day but I think it’s deeper than that.  The FOMC’s decision to announce the latest round of QE was seen by Romney as a means to keep him from his lifelong goal of becoming President and he over-reacted.

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Major U.S. Banks Continue to Hide Asset Deterioration

Citigroup (NYSE:C) reported the results of its latest quarter ending September with profits dropping by 87% from the same quarter last year to $468 million as it reduced the value of its joint venture in Morgan Stanley Smith Barney by $4.7 billion. Excluding the one-off expenses, Citi’s income rose to $3.3 billion. The bank is planning to sell its 49% stake in the firm back to Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). Still, the net income managed to beat analysts’ expectation which saw the shares climbing 5.5%. The very next day, the bank again attracted global headlines when its famed chief executive Vikram Pandit resigned after serving for four and a half years along with the bank’s president and COO John Havens. Mr. Pandit was then replaced by Citi’s Europe, Middle East and Africa chief Michael Corbat.

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Banking on Indonesian Growth

By the end of the 2nd quarter of 2012 it became clear that Indonesia was going to be the engine of growth for ASEAN over the next few years.  With GDP growth exceeding expectations at 6.5% and foreign investment rising 30.2% year over year the worries over political and fiscal distress in Europe and the U.S. faded somewhat.  Now that the Western central banks have announced some form of open-ended quantitative easing there isn’t a more critical time to reiterate the great opportunity that Southeast Asia represents as a major producer of wealth in the world.

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This Dollar’s Not Fallin’

The world’s major central banks, along with the Federal Reserve have all announced some form of open-ended QE in a coordinated attempt to keep the world financial markets from imploding.  Aside from the fire hose the Fed is bringing we have all of these events as well:

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Peter Pham is an author, international fund manager, and a registered financial director by the Cayman Monetary Authority (CIMA). In 2013 he published his first book entitled, The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns. He currently manages the portfolio of a global hedge fund and runs an asset management company, Phoenix Capital.  (read more)

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