December 26, 2013

McDonalds' suggestion to Employees: Eat somewhere else


McDonalds' internal employee resource website McResource Line on one of the resource website pages has strongly urged its employees to eat... elsewhere.

The advice is given with graphics depicting the ‘unhealthy choice’ and the ‘healthier choice.’
From the Mail:
The fast food giant has advised employees to avoid meals with burgers and fries and to eat healthier options like salad and sandwiches. The advice was dispensed on the now-infamous McResource Line, the employees-only website that has told workers to sell their things and get second jobs to make ends meet.

Despite featuring a vast array of deep fried delicacies, the Golden Arches reminds employees that ‘avoiding items that are deep fried are your best bet.’
The sensible advice also tells McWorkers to ‘limit the extras such as cheese, bacon and mayonnaise.’ Tasty add-ons that are staples of many menu items they serve on a daily basis.

A hamburger, fries and soda are warned against, because ‘eating a diet high in fat puts people at rick for becoming overweight.’ Many locations offer steep food discounts and short breaks to employees, virtually forcing them to eat the unhealthy food, often forcing the hand of workers without the time or means to eat elsewhere.
 ‘It is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often,’ the advice continues. ‘Many foods are cooked with a lot of fat, even if they are not trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods.’
.
In the aftermath of these humiliating revelations we find that the McResource site has been taken down and that MCD workers are no longer strongly advised to eat elsewhere.

Beer Consumption in Europe




August 25, 2013

Berlusconi holding Italy Hostage

A brilliant article on Berlusconi and the sorrow state of Italy by Tim Sparks can be read HERE

A brief summary below:
Vote me out of jail, or I will bring the country down with me. This, essentially, is the message Silvio Berlusconi—four-time prime minister, owner of the country’s three main commercial TV channels, criminal defendant many times over—has just sent to the Italian government, one that clarifies at last the exact nature of what is at stake in Italy at the present moment: is this a modern state where the rule of law prevails or is it the fiefdom of an institutionalized outlaw?
After a dozen trials, many of which have gone through all three levels of Italian justice (primary trial, appeal, counter appeal), after making ad personam laws to have his crimes de-penalized, or using delaying tactics to have trials thrown out because the crimes alleged in them are time-barred, or facing guilty verdicts at one level and acquittals at another, Berlusconi has finally received a definitive and unappealable criminal sentence at the highest level, for tax fraud in the region of €7 million ($9 million) and for the creation of a slush fund of some €280 million ($375 million). Sentenced to four years in prison, he has benefited from a pardon aimed at emptying the country’s jails, which has reduced the sentence to one year—this despite the fact that, being over seventy, he will be allowed to serve his sentence at one of his various luxury homes. However, as an elected member of the senate, he enjoys immunity from arrest and cannot be forced into confinement until the senate approves his expulsion, a vote that could take place in September. He has now made it clear that if that vote goes against him he will bring the whole house down.

June 25, 2013

The New Frontier of IT Espionage

All info below is nothing new, every person with a minimum common sense and some basic IT knowledge has always had doubts it was happening, nonetheless the general  public does not seem to have come to terms with the severity of this issue. 
Even after Snowden leaks ; the general public is still naively posting their full lives on line regardless of any privacy consideration.
Social media does not seem affected or under scrutiny, no major drop in internet traffic is recorded, no sign of confidence loss on behalf of their users and no investigations at all on behalf of the authorities (no surprise there though!).
So if NSA and GCHQ eavesdropping on your life does not scare you what about the following:


If you are near your smart phone – the NSA or private parties could remotely activate your microphone and camera and spy on you.


The New York Times reported in 2011 that German police were using spyware to turn on the webcam and microphone on peoples’ computers:
A group that calls itself the Chaos Computer Club prompted a public outcry here recently when it discovered that German state investigators were using spying software capable of turning a computer’s webcam and microphone into a sophisticated surveillance device.

The club …announced last Saturday it had analyzed the hard drives of people who had been investigated and discovered that they were infected with a Trojan horse program that gave the police the ability to log keystrokes, capture screenshots and activate cameras and microphones.
Reuters documented last year that the U.S. and Israeli governments can remotely turn on a computer’s microphone:
Evidence suggest that the virus, dubbed Flame, may have been built on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 [i.e. the U.S. and Israel], according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software maker that took credit for discovering the infections.

Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.

Kaspersky Lab said Flame and Stuxnet appear to infect machines by exploiting the same flaw in the Windows operating system and that both viruses employ a similar way of spreading. 
PC Magazine tech columnist John Dvorak writes:
From what we know the NSA has back door access into Apple, Microsoft, and Google. What kind of access we don’t know, but let us assume it is similar to what they did about 7 years ago to AT&T. They had a secret room at Fulsom St. in San Francisco and the AT&T engineers had no control and no access to a room full of NSA equipment that had direct access to everything AT&T could do.

Microsoft is the source of the operating system for Windows and Windows cell phones. Apple controls the OS for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Google controls the Chrome OS, Chrome Browser, and Android cell phones. The companies regularly push operating system upgrades and security updates to users on a regular basis.

Imagine however that the NSA has access to these updates at the source and has the ability to alter these update in order to install some sort of spyware on your phone, tablet, or computer. The software could turn on your camera or microphone remotely, read all your private data, or erase everything and brick your phone or computer.

 

Italy is facing a EU bailout within 6 months

While the Italian press is rife with big headlines on Berlusconi's clusterfuck and his conviction  to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban on holding public office; the italian economy is deteriorating faster and faster.
The Italian government is giving few signs of intelligent life and treasury investors are starting to lose patience.
All things considered is not surprising that Mediobanca, Italy’s second biggest bank, said its “index of solvency risk” for Italy was already flashing red as the worldwide bond rout continued into a second week, pushing up borrowing costs.

The report warned that Italy will “inevitably end up in an EU bail-out request” over the next six months, unless it can count on low borrowing costs and a broader recovery.

As Ambrose Evans Pritchard noted:

“Time is running out fast,” said Mediobanca’s top analyst, Antonio Guglielmi, in a confidential client note. “The Italian macro situation has not improved over the last quarter, rather the contrary. Some 160 large corporates in Italy are now in special crisis administration.”

Italy’s €2.1 trillion (£1.8 trillion) debt is the world’s third largest after the US and Japan. Any serious stress in its debt markets threatens to reignite the eurozone crisis. This may already have begun after the US Federal Reserve signalled last week that it will begin to drain dollar liquidity from the global system.
The ECB has already backed away from earlier plans to steer credit to small businesses in the Club Med bloc. The Italian banking association said it was bitterly disappointed by the latest break down in eurozone talks on a banking union, warning that it leaves Italy’s lenders at the mercy of a confidence crisis.

Andrew Roberts from RBS said the world has become “a dangerous place” as Fed tightening marks an inflexion point in global liquidity.

Borrowing costs of 5pc could prove crippling for Spain and Italy, both suffering from contraction of nominal GDP.

Mediobanca said the trigger for a blow-up in Italy could be a bail-out crisis for Slovenia or an ugly turn of events in Argentina, which has close links to Italian business. “Argentina in particular worries us, as a new default seems likely.”

Mr Guglielmi said Italy’s industrial output has slumped 25pc from its peak in the past decade, while disposable income has dropped 9pc and house sales have dropped to 1985 levels.

The 1992 crisis was defused by a large devaluation, allowing Italy to restore trade competitiveness at a stroke. Mediobanca said: “The euro straitjacket is clearly not providing a similar currency flexibility today. With the lira devaluation Italy managed to inflate debt away, which it cannot do today. It could take more than 10 years to revert to pre-crisis output levels.

May 25, 2013

Phil Hansen: Embrace the shake

Hansen challenged himself to create art using unconventional materials (dandelion puffs, matches, live worms, hamburger grease) and canvases (a stack of Starbucks cups, his torso, bananas). The resulting time-lapse videos of his creative processes are his meta-art, showing that art is action, not just results. 
Through an integrated view of what sparks creativity, Hansen has devoted himself to teaching others the approaches to creativity that have changed both his outlook and his artistic endeavors. 
Hansen has just started a new project via Kickstarter, inviting people to share their stories of overcoming limitations with him. 
Anyone who calls him at  651-321-4996  and tells him their story will become a part of the work, the creation of which is watchable on a live feed.



Where are the millionaires!

Where is the wealth concentrated in the world! According to a new report from WealthInsight, Tokyo is beating out New York and London. 
The Economist notes that the city, which boasts 460,700 individuals with net assets of $1m or more (excluding their primary residences), is home to over a fifth of Japan's millionaires. However, when it comes to real money London tops the list with 4,224 multi-millionaires.  
But the real surprise is Frankfurt which has the highest millionaires per capita (with 75 out of every 1000 people having at least a seven figure net worth).









Source: The Economist

Cosmetic surgery boom in crisis-stricken Greece and Italy


While the Greek economy remains under the proverbial knife of the Troika, it appears the wealthy are unconcerned by the plight of their fellow countrymen. 
Der Spiegel reports that not only does Greece have the second highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita in the world but thanks to a slumping economy, surgeons have cut prices by up to 40% while rich Greeks are never as before rushing to improve their looks.



Via Der Spiegel,
The economic crisis has forced thousands in Greece to rely on volunteers for even basic health care services.

Meanwhile, wealthier Greeks are having more facelifts and breast implants than anywhere in the world.

...

Every year, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) performs a survey of the number of plastic surgery procedures performed worldwide. When the numbers are compared to a country's population, the results are surprising for Greece. In 2011, 142,394 procedures were performed in the country, with its population of about 11 million. That means that, on average, one in 79 Greeks has had procedures such as liposuction, eyelid corrections and Botox injections performed on them. Worldwide, the Greeks rank only second to the South Koreans in terms of the number of cosmetic procedures performed per 1,000 inhabitants (see graphic). In Germany, with a population of about 81 million, there were 415,448 procedures in 2011, or one in about 200.

2011 was the year of the economic crisis, and yet Greece rose even higher in the international ranking. Looking good still seems to be important to the Greeks.

April 30, 2013

It is Bunga Bunga all over again!

With the election confirmed today by the Senate of the new Italian government Berlusconi has managed to place himself in power once again. 
No wonder that Berlusconi is having a very good time these days; with two trials pending and a new government controlled by him, he has managed again to shield himself from going to jail. 
The old fox has outwitted his antagonists once again.

Beyond the politics of the moment Italy though is besieged by a very serious crisis.

As the various central banks dump money into the system, the yields on Italian sovereign debt have gone down but this does not change the economic difficulties.

The official debt to GDP ratio is 136% but the actual number is somewhere around 280% which is unsustainable by any measure.

Italy's Real GDP is back to 1990s levels practically erasing any growth accumulated in the last 10 years.


The Italian banking system is also in dire straits.
Italian banks are seeing a sharp deterioration in the quality of their assets. The rate of acceleration in newly impaired loans is staggering as it appears the current recession, driven by falling internal demand, is more insidious than the export-led crisis in 2009.

And no matter how the Italian banks try to differentiate their bad loan composition, it is an ugly picture.

The Italian House Price Index (IPAB) decreased 4.6% YOY as a result of tightening credit conditions, new property taxes and a difficult macro environment.

Italy's industrial base has one important peculiarity: 95% of companies have under nine employees. In fact the average is four. They are micro companies and as such, their balance sheet is modest and so is their ability to withstand prolonged contraction in demand (external or domestic depending on the line of business).

Italy has a second important peculiarity. It has significant household financial wealth and an aging population, including a high average age of entrepreneurs.
This implies that on the margin more entrepreneurs are likely to decide to scale back operations as expected profitability has diminished due to weak turnover, high red tape and growing fiscal burden.

On the margin, opting for early retirement looks like an increasingly appealing option.
Be it because of severe balance sheet pressures or because of less attractive future returns, the economy is losing productive capacity at a disturbingly high pace.

But despite private wealth and assets the public sector is quite close to going over the cliff.

Italy’s difficult position was enumerated in a Bank of Italy report to parliament last week which said the economy was going through its most acute crisis since World War II. Economic output last year was nearly 7% below that of 2007, while disposable incomes had fallen 9.5%. Industrial production had collapsed by 25% over five years, while the building sector shrank 22%. Unemployment had nearly doubled to 11.7% the Italian central bank said.

In the meanwhile Berlusconi's ratings are at an all time high, his PDL party in the latest polls is showing an increased popularity eroding support at PD and MS5.

Simply wondering if the Italian people are completely deluded or simply insane, I propend for the second option!


“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

 

April 20, 2013

Italy political chaos reach new highs with president re-election!


Italy, which has devolved into total political chaos since the February 25th inconclusive elections has managed to re-elect the current president Giorgio Napolitano for a second consecutive 7 year term. 
So if not a prime minister, the country at least has a president.
There is one problem: Napolitano is 87 years old.
Perhaps the prospect of a 95 year old president in 7 years is precisely the the kind of stamina and  impetus the country needs to shift its economy into overdrive!


Yet while the presidential election was largely a farce, it is the problems in Italy's Democratic Party (PD) that are now center stage, following what appears to be a complete implosion in the party.

From Reuters:
Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani announced his resignation on Friday after party rebels sabotaged two separate candidates he had backed for state president, deepening Italy's political chaos.

Bersani told a meeting of parliamentarians he would quit as Democratic Party (PD) leader as soon as the election of the next head of state was completed, following two dramatic days of parliamentary voting in which successive center-left candidates were scuppered in secret ballots.

"He accepted his responsibility after the disgrace of what happened," Paolo Gentiloni, a senior Democratic Party parliamentary deputy said after Bersani's announcement.

Then disarray in the center-left, which has the most seats in parliament, could make a snap election in the summer more likely to end the political deadlock, but there is no clarity about the next moves after weeks of chaos.

It is unclear who will take over leadership of the badly split party but Bersani's departure could clear the way for arch-rival Matteo Renzi, the dynamic 38-year-old mayor of Florence, to take over.

Bersani's announcement came shortly after former Prime Minister Romano Prodi announced he was pulling out of the race for president after more than 100 center-left electors disobeyed Bersani's instructions to vote for him in parliament.

It was the last of a series of humiliating setbacks for Bersani and blunders that have shredded his ability to hold the center-left bloc together.

The collapse of efforts to secure the presidency for Prodi, a respected international figure, underlined the deep fractures running through politics in a country still seeking a government nearly two months after February's inconclusive general election.

"The politicians should be ashamed of what they're doing to the country. Today we're seeing a level of irresponsibility that goes beyond all limits," said Diego Della Valle, head of shoe group Tod's, one of Italy's most successful clothing companies.
The biggest winner as a result of all of the above? Silvio Berlusconi of course!
Since Berlusconi's star seems on the rise again I thought to follow the BBC track and highlight some of his most enlightened words such as these:
"I am without doubt the person who's been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man."

"In my opinion, and not only mine, I am the best prime minister we can find today."

Previously, on the same theme: "I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."

"The best political leader in Europe and in the world."

"There is no-one on the world stage who can compete with me."

"Out of love for Italy, I felt I had to save it from the left."

"The right man in the right job."

"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."

"In Italy I am almost seen as German for my workaholism. Also I am from Milan, the city where people work the hardest. Work, work, work - I am almost German."
And to put current Italian events into context it is worth quoting Benito Mussolini:
Democracy is talking itself to death. The people do not know what they want; they do not know what is the best for them. There is too much foolishness, too much lost motion. I have stopped the talk and the nonsense. I am a man of action. Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy.

April 13, 2013

Household Wealth in Europe

The ECB has finally published the all-country report which gives us an indication of where household wealth is located and where in the future bailouts private wealth will be confiscated. The data is from 2009-2010 so especially in the PIIGS countries it could be overinflated after 3 years of austerity still is a powerful indicator of major unbalances in the Eurozone.
Italian median household wealth was indeed over three times larger than Germany’s. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was Cyprus.
Cypriot households (CY), as measured by both their median and average wealth, were the second richest in the Eurozone. Median household wealth of €266,900 was over five times Germany’s median of €51,400. 
Average household wealth reached a phenomenal €670,900, 3.4 times Germany’s €195,200, and just shy of Luxembourg’s €710,100. Rarefied levels of wealth achievable only by small countries with huge and murky banking centres, or lots of oil. Few countries in the world are in that elite club.
And Germans based on median household wealth, were the poorest in the Eurozone.

It wasn’t that Cypriot households earned a lot of money—they earned the same as German households! They just knew how to hang on to it. At least until their bubble blew up.

By now, wealthier German households, those who own property and stocks, are significantly better off than they were in 2010, and they have since pulled up the average. Median household wealth, however—almost none of them own property or stocks—has certainly been left behind, again.
In the meanwhile in Cyprus real estate values, after a mind-boggling bubble, have been plunging for over two years; and billions in bank deposits have evaporated. 
Spanish household wealth has also been caught in a downward spiral of devastating unemployment and an exploding housing bubble—Spanish households lead the survey with a homeownership rate of 83%. In 2010, homeowners valued their homes at bubble prices. By now, much of the home equity Spaniards were clinging to has dissipated—with dramatic impact on household wealth.
Central bank sources told the FAZ that the Bundesbank and the ECB, to avoid stirring up a storm at an inconvenient time, kept this explosive wealth data secret until after the Cyprus bailout had been decided. But the data also explains the political motivation for the haircuts of account holders in Cypriot banks.

April 9, 2013

Mark Shaw: One very dry demo


Mark Shaw demos Ultra-Ever Dry, a liquid-repellent coating that acts as an astonishingly powerful shield against water and water-based materials. At the nano level, the spray covers a surface with an umbrella of air so that water bounces right off. Amazing!





How to move offshore your cash in six steps

No one know for sure how much of the planet's private wealth is parked in tax havens. One estimate is that there's $32 trillion deposited offshore; a more conservative calculation puts it a minimum of $8 trillion.
It is easy to understand why 2.5 million files covering 120,000 offshore entities was 'accidentally' leaked to the media.
Governments realize that they are running out of options fast and putting pressure on off-shore accounts is the second front of a coordinated effort to start converting private wealth to a public one.


ICIJ issued the following simple six-step process guide to off-shore stashing; from 'Choosing a haven' to creating a 'secret identity' and from opening the 'right' bank account to how to 'move' the money; this picturesque guide may be indispensable to many Europeans now that the EU is adamant on who will pay the next banking crisis.

For a full interactive tour visit:  http://www.icij.org/offshore/interactive-stash-your-cash 


Europe Stagflation risks


Hard times ahead for Cyprus and the PIGS.
Bloomberg has ranked countries based on their risk of stagflation.
Stagflation, a combination of stagnation and inflation, is a term used in economics to describe a situation where inflation is high while the economic growth rate slows down, and unemployment remains steadily high.
It raises a dilemma for economic policy since actions designed to lower inflation may exacerbate unemployment, and vice versa.
The lower the score, the greater the risk of stagflation.
Cyprus was found to be most at risk of stagflation with a Stagflation Score of -4.733, followed by Portugal (-2.671), Italy (-2.133), Spain(-1.745) and Greece (-1.366). Switzerland was ranked least at risk with a score of (7.560), followed by China (2.612) and Japan (2.446).



Source: Bloomberg Brief

April 5, 2013

Eu Wide Bank Confiscation Approaching

What happened in Cyprus is unfortunately going to be replicated all over Europe, the reason is simple at the end there is not enough money to bailout Spain and Italy, the system used so far in Portugal, Greece and Ireland is not sustainable, let us even suppose for one moment that Germany is willing to help Italy and Spain, it will not work, there is not enough money to sustain those rapidly decomposing economies and even if Germany would mortgage its future it would only kick the can down the road for few more years.
The crisis is systemic and the jump-ship set of mind is already in place all over Europe.
Italy and Spain are doomed, France is on the brink.
Cyprus has been correctly addressed as a guinea pig for future bail (out-in) but at the end all minds go to Italy with its large savings base and Spain with his colossal bank crisis.
This week Italy's largest bank CEO contemplated such a move and alarm bells should start ringing all over Europe:

From Bloomberg: Unicredit says global rule needed

Cutting large deposits in failing banks, along with other liabilities such as bonds, to offset losses is acceptable as long as small savers’ funds remain protected, Ghizzoni told reporters in Vienna late yesterday. The European Union has to introduce identical rules in all of its member states and ideally those rules would be coordinated globally, he said.

Unicredit knows the Cyprus effect is coming to Italy and Spain and it is asking a global coordination to ring fence the EU from massive capital flows.
What is scaring is that we have moved from a world where property and savings were guaranteed to a world where property is no longer safe and where starting from bankers to politicians a framework is being created to justify or legalize such confiscations as necessary.

From Reuters: EU to push for losses on big savers at failed banks.

The European Parliament will demand that big savers take losses if their banks run into trouble, a senior lawmaker told Reuters, adding momentum to a policy unveiled as part of a Cypriot bailout.

Now the likelihood is rising that tough treatment of big depositors will be written into a new EU law, making losses for large savers a permanent feature of future banking crises.

"You need to be able to do the bail-in as well with deposits," said Gunnar Hokmark, an influential member of the European Parliament, who is leading negotiations with EU countries to finalize a law for winding up problem banks.

"Deposits below 100,000 euros are protected ... deposits above 100,000 euros are not protected and shall be treated as part of the capital that can be bailed in," Hokmark told Reuters, adding that he was confident a majority of his peers in the parliament backed this line.

The law, which will also introduce means to impose losses on bondholders, is due to take effect at the start of 2015. Germany wants provisions for bailing in bondholders and others in the same year, though that may be delayed.

Hokmark urged savers to check their banks' health before taking the risk of depositing money.

"If you put your money in Royal Bank of Scotland ... or Deutsche Bank, depending on how that bank is working you are taking a risk," he said. "You need to be aware that you are taking a risk.
Looking ahead, the implication is that no one should place more than €100,000 in any bank (but then since every rule can be twisted according to the moment's necessity who know if 100.000 will still be the threshold in 1 year time).
So no one will invest in Europe especially in questionable Southern European banks.
Instead, expect capital flights to resume in different, more creative forms.
Pressure is going to rise on offshore banks as well to undermine their attractiveness and willingness to accept deposits from EU citizens, proof enough is this week leaks on offshore accounts.
A major campaign has started to coral money inside the EU in anticipation of the Great Confiscation and Great Depression approaching.
My only tip if you have money inside the EU is time to move out before the trap is in place.

March 25, 2013

Russian Depositors use loophole to take billions out of Cyprus

Another very disturbing piece of news has emerged today, it appears that large amounts of money in the order of billions have been withdrawn from Laiki and Bank of Cyprus during the one week blockade; should this be confirmed the hole in the two banks could be much larger than thought; which in exchange would guarantee a total wipe out of the two banks' deposits.
If the purpose of all this was to punish dirty Russian capitals in Cyprus well it seems it failed miserably.

From FAZ, Google translation edited:
Despite the closed banks and a lock for payments in the past week, more money flowed out of Cyprus than in previous weeks, Frankfurter experts report.

Prior to the escalation of the crisis in Cyprus accruing on the payment system targetting liabilities of Cypriot central bank to the European Central Bank (ECB) had increased daily at approximately 100 to 200 million euros. In the days after Parliament rejection of the stabilization program, the daily risk has risen to more than double.
Just in the last week so cash assets have been withdrawn from Cyprus in the billions, regardless of the fact the Cypriot central bank had issued a lock.

Cyprus Central Bank Board nonetheless left exemptions from capital controls
such as transfers for humanitarian aid reasons and "special payments", which are not defined in detail.
The unusually high outflows from Cyprus in recent days indicates that the central bank of Nicosia has interpreted this capital control rather liberally.

From Reuters:
While ordinary Cypriots queued at ATM machines to withdraw a few hundred euros as credit card transactions stopped, other depositors used an array of techniques to access their money.

No one knows exactly how much money has left Cyprus' banks, or where it has gone. The two banks at the centre of the crisis - Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki, and Bank of Cyprus - have units in London which remained open throughout the week and placed no limits on withdrawals. Bank of Cyprus also owns 80 percent of Russia's Uniastrum Bank, which put no restrictions on withdrawals in Russia. Russians were among Cypriot banks' largest depositors.

Euro Template to Confiscate European Bank Accounts

As reported in my previous post, signals are there already that Cyprus will not be an isolated case and that similar confiscations will be applied to other nations in the Eurozone.
Of course having the luxury of the Eurogroup leader to agree with you and stating it publicly the day after is something unexpected.
Mr. Dijsselbloem, Leader of the Eurogroup and Dutch Finance Minister stated that Cyprus will become the new template for resolving Eurozone banking problems.
Markets did not appreciate the candour of Mr. Dijsselbloem (apparently it is pronounced Diesel-BOOM), his explosive remark did not take long to bring down the markets and put an end to the insane optimism following the Cyprus bailout deal.


Talking with Reuters, on the resolution model just put in place in Cyprus:
A rescue programme agreed for Cyprus on Monday represents a new template for resolving euro zone banking problems and other countries may have to restructure their banking sectors, the head of the region's finance ministers said.

"What we've done last night is what I call pushing back the risks," Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, told Reuters and the Financial Times hours after the Cyprus deal was struck.

"If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be 'Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?'. If the bank can't do it, then we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we'll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders," he said.

After 12 hours of talks with the EU and IMF, Cyprus agreed to shut down its second largest bank, with insured deposits - those below 100,000 euros - moved to the Bank of Cyprus, the country's largest lender. Uninsured deposits, those accounts with more than 100,000 euros, face losses of 4.2 billion euros.

Uninsured depositors in the Bank of Cyprus will have their accounts frozen while the bank is restructured and recapitalised. Any capital that is needed to strengthen the bank will be drawn from accounts above 100,000 euros.

The agreement is what is known as a "bail-in", with shareholders and bondholders in banks forced to bear the costs of the restructuring first, followed by uninsured depositors. Under EU rules, deposits up to 100,000 euros are guaranteed.

Translation:

It is now officially dangerous to have a big bank account in Europe. In other words being an Uninsured Depositor.


After the not so amiable reaction of the financial markets Mr. Dijsselbloem (Diesel BOOM) has clarified his remarks on the Eurogroup's website:
Statement by the Eurogroup President on Cyprus

25/03/2013 - Statement

Cyprus is a specific case with exceptional challenges which required the bail-in measures we have agreed upon yesterday.

Macro-economic adjustment programmes are tailor-made to the situation of the country concerned and no models or templates are used.
I'm sure now all the Ininsured Depositors feel very reassured, Thank you sir!


Post-Rescue Cyprus Depression

So the rescue of Cypriot troubled banks has been finally approved after 1 week of absolute lunacy in Cyprus, for those not aware yet a quick recap on the key points approved yesterday night:

Key points of the deal:
Laiki bank will be fully resolved – it will be split into a good bank and bad bank. The good bank will merge with the Bank of Cyprus (which will also take on Laiki’s circa €8bn Emergency Liquidity Assistance – a last-resort funding system outside the usual ECB operations). The bad bank will be wound down over time with all uninsured depositors (over €100,000) taking significant losses (no percentage yet but some could lose all their money above the threshold).
The Bank of Cyprus will be recapitalised using a debt to equity swap and the transfer of assets from Laiki. Uninsured depositors will take large hits in this process – again no percentage but reports suggest up to 40%.
These actions will be taken using the new bank restructuring plan passed in the Cypriot Parliament on Friday. Crucially, no further vote will be needed in the Cypriot parliament since there is no direct deposit levy.
The banks will not receive any of the €10bn bailout money, the entire recapitalisation will be done using the tools outlined above.
Significant capital controls are likely to be in place when banks reopen, creating a risk of Cypriot euros being “localised”.
Further tax increases may be included in the detailed plan to be drawn up between the two sides.

  and as a consequence an entire country will be sliding very fast in a Great Depression:


From SocGen:
Depression for Cyprus: Our Cypriot GDP forecast entails a drop of just over 20% in real GDP by 2017. This forecast had already factored in much what was agreed, but did not account for the additional uncertainty shock generated by the past week’s appalling political mess. Risks are clearly on the downside and Cyprus will in all likelihood require additional financial assistance further down the road. Accounting for less than 0.3% of euro area GDP, any downward revision to Cyprus will be barely visible on the euro area aggregate.

Cyprus’ position as a financial centre is over. There are few other alternatives for growth. One option that remains is tourism, but with a significantly overvalued currency it is not clear to what extent Cyprus can take advantage of this.
The capital controls will severely hamper liquidity in the economy, while it will be very difficult for the small island to trade with the rest of the world (it is far from self-sufficient, importing almost everything). The collapse in GDP could be anywhere between 5% and 10% this year, depending on how long capital controls are imposed and the resulting collapse in tax revenue could make the government’s position worse. There is a strong chance Cyprus could become a zombie economy – reliant on eurozone and ECB funding to function, possibly requiring further bailouts.

Capital controls are severe and could de facto lead to Cyprus being seen as out of the euro. Ultimately, money is no longer fungible between Cyprus and the rest of the Eurozone and, at this point in time, it’s hard to argue that a Euro in Cyprus is worth the same as a Euro elsewhere. The real problem though may not be imposing the controls but removing them – Iceland still has capital controls in place, five years after it installed them (despite having the advantage of a devalued currency).

The €10bn bailout will push Cypriot debt to GDP to 140% - if Cypriot GDP falls by just 5% this year, that rises to 148%.

In the meanwhile the bailout deal is already rising anti-Euro sentiments all over the country,  one of the most influential voices speaking against the Euro and the EU is the Orthodox Church Leader Archbishop Chrysostomos II who commented on TV that "with the brains in Brussels... the Euro can't last," certainly the fact that the Orthodox Church of Cyprus lost over 100 million euro holdings in the Bank of Cyprus must have contributed to his anger toward the EU and the Cyprus politicians: "those that brought the place into this mess, should sit on the stool. " (blaming the outgoing government, Ministers of Finance, the Central Bank, and the Executive Directors of Banks).
May his prayer be accepted! When the full scale of social devastation inflicted on Cyprus will be apparent a chopping block would be more suitable than a stool!




March 23, 2013

After Cyprus levy; are Italy and Spain next?

Cyprus crisis is reaching his climax this weekend but regardless of how it will develop served well in distracting the media and the EU population from the bigger fishes frying in the EU pan, Italy and Spain.
So despite dimmed lights on the Italian political disaster and the Spanish banking Armageddon it is worth highlighting the following news:

Via El Pais (Via Google Translate),
The Minister of Finance and Public Administration, Cristobal Montoro, has advanced on Tuesday that the government will impose a type "moderate" to bank deposits to compensate communities that saw their tax autonomy canceled after the Executive created a state tax 0% rate.  This tax on bank deposits, which has nothing to do with Cyprus, does not affect savers but requires credit institutions to pay for that capture deposits. 

"The autonomous communities receive timely and therefore financially compensation shall implement a moderate rate in the state tax on bank deposits," said the minister, adding that this kind "will not be much higher than 0%" . 

The Minister of Finance has clarified that such "moderate" will have no tax collection effort, "but that these regions serve to offset the revenue loss to see."  So, he assured that the amount will correspond to the amount "exact has been undermined by the cancellation of regional taxes". 

Subsequently the Spanish Minister of Finance & Public Administration announced a tax or bank levy (probably 0.2%) to be imposed on bank deposits, without details on which deposits will be affected or timing.

and on Italy:
In an article on Handelsblatt the chief economist of Commerzbank says: Italy should bring a unique wealth tax.

It is a myth to talk of crisis-strapped states. Even the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and the chief economist of Commerzbank, Joerg Kraemer says the numbers suggest a different view.

Kramer relies on surveys of the European Central Bank. Net financial assets of the Italians are 173 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This is significantly more than the net financial assets of the Germans, which corresponds to 124 percent of GDP, said Kramer for Handelsblatt Online.

"So it would make sense, in Italy for a one-time property tax levy," suggested the Bank economist. "A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product."

March 17, 2013

Cyprus Levy and Europe plan B to reduce debt



In light of the forced levy of Cyprus it is worth reading the following article from September 2011, "The "Muddle Through" Has Failed: BCG Says "There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis", which predicted what is happening now in Europe. The study concludes that such mandatory, coercive wealth tax (aka Levy) is merely the beginning for a world in which there was some $21 trillion in excess debt as of 2009, a number which has since ballooned to over $30 trillion. And with inflation not showing up to inflate away the accumulated debt, Europe is finally moving to Plan B, and is using Cyrprus as its Guinea Pig.
Restructuring the debt overhang in the euro zone would require financing and would be a daunting task. In order to finance controlled restructuring, politicians could well conclude that it was necessary to tax the existing wealth of the private sector. Many politicians would see taxing financial assets as the fairest way of resolving the problem. Taxing existing financial assets would acknowledge one fact: these investments are not as valuable as their owners think, as the debtors (governments, households, and corporations) will be unable to meet their commitments. Exhibit 3 shows the one-time tax on financial assets required to provide the necessary funds for an orderly restructuring.



For most countries, a levy on deposits of 11 to 30 percent would be sufficient to cover the costs of an orderly debt restructuring. Only in Greece, Spain, and Portugal would the burden for the private sector be significantly higher; in Ireland, it would be too high because the financial assets of the Irish people are smaller than the required adjustment of debt levels. This underscores the dimension of the Irish real estate and debt bubble.
 To ensure a socially acceptable sharing of the burden, politicians would no doubt decide to tax financial assets only above a certain threshold—€100,000, for example. Given that any such tax would be meant as a one-time correction of current debt levels, they would need to balance it by removing wealth taxes and capital-gains taxes. The drastic action of imposing a tax on assets would probably make it easier politically to lower income taxes in order to stimulate further growth. (See Exhibit 4.)


Curiously, not even BCG expected the initial shot across the bow to be so bad that everyone, not just those above the €100,000 threshold would be impaired. Alas, that is the sad reality in Europe, where as the chart above shows, a total of €6.1 trillion in additional wealth (confiscation) tax is coming.
 



Cyprus bailout update

For those who thought that a forced levy on bank accounts was unthinkable in Europe, the recent bail out has been a call to reality on the seriousness of the European crisis.
Everyone is already wondering who will be next and if Cypriots are complaining of a 9.9% levy on bank deposits they can find consolation in knowing that the initial request was for a 40% levy as told by Ekathemerini.


Report from Ekathemerini,

This is the first time in the eurozone that a levy has been imposed not on the interest of bank accounts but on the capital itself. In addition to that there is a levy on interest, too, and an increase in the 10 percent corporate tax that has been one of the main driving forces behind Cyprus’s financial progress after the 1974 Turkish invasion, generating growth by attracting foreign direct investment.

Tax on interest will amount to between 20 and 25 percent.

...

Cyprus state broadcaster CyBC reported on Saturday that German Finance Minister actually entered the Eurogroup meeting on Friday proposing a 40 percent haircut on Cypriot bank accounts. Sarris stated on Saturday that this had also been the proposal of the International Monetary Fund.

Sarris stated in Brussels that in view of the threat from the European Central Bank for banks in Cyprus to shut down and chaos to ensue, the increase in interest taxation and the haircut to bank accounts became necessary. “A disorderly default, that was a genuine possibility, has been averted,” he said.

Worth reading as well the official statement of the Cypriot president:


Statement by the President of the Republic of Cyprus,
It is well known that the deep economic crisis and the state of emergency in which the country has found itself did not come about in the last fortnight since we have undertaken the administration of the country.

The state of emergency and critical nature of the times do not allow me, as they do not allow anyone, to embark on a blame game.

In the extraordinary meeting of the Eurogroup, we faced decisions that had already been taken and came across faits accomplis through which we were faced with the following dilemmas:

On Tuesday, March 19 we would either choose: the catastrophic scenario of disorderly bankruptcy or the scenario of a painful but controlled management of the crisis, which would put a definitive end to the uncertainty and restart our economy.

A possible choice of the catastrophic scenario option would have the following consequences:
  1. On Tuesday, March 19, immediately after the holiday weekend, one of the two banks in crisis would cease to operate, since the European Central Bank, following the decision already taken, would terminate the provision of liquidity. The second bank would suspend its work, and neither could avoid collapse. Such a phenomenon would instantly lead 8.000 families to unemployment.
  2. The State would be obliged to compensate depositors in response to the obligation regarding guaranteed deposits. The capital required in such a case would amount to about 30 billion euros, which the State would be unable to pay.
  3. A proportionate amount corresponding to the deposits of thousands of depositors for deposits over 100.000 Euro, would be led to a vicious cycle of asset liquidation, and these depositors would suffer losses of over 60%.
  4. Such an uncontrolled situation would push the whole banking system into collapse with all the attendant consequences.
  5. Thousands of small and medium enterprises, and other businesses would be driven to bankruptcy due to their inability to trade.
As a result of the above, the service sector would be led to a complete collapse with a possible exit from the euro. That, in addition to the national weakening of Cyprus, would lead to devaluation of the currency by at least 40%.

The second choice was the controlled management of the crisis, through the decisions taken and which can be summarized as follows:
  1. Ensuring the liquidity of the banks and the rescue of the banking system through their recapitalization.
  2. Rescuing 8.000 jobs in the banking sector and thousands of others which would be lost as a corollary of not maintaining the operations of banks.
  3. Total rescuing of deposits, with just the exchange of a small percentage of savings with shares of the two banks. Currently, these shares do not have their full value, but with the economic recovery they will repay most it not all of the amount that will be cut.
  4. This option results in a drastic reduction of public debt, makes it manageable and sustainable and relieves future generations from the burden of repayment.
  5. It saves provident and pension funds and avoids taking other tough measures such as wage and pension cuts that were put on the negotiations table.
  6. It avoids further recession and the risk of the vicious circle of a second memorandum.
We are not aiming to gloss over the situation. The solution chosen may be painful, but it was the only one that would allow us to continue our lives without adventures. It's a decision that leads to the historic and permanent rescue our economy.
In the next few hours we will all have to take responsibility. Tomorrow I will address the Cypriot people.

March 7, 2013

Italian Debt Highest since Mussolini


Italian debt is up in 2012 to 127 percent of gross domestic product from 120.8 percent a year earlier. As Bloomberg notes, that's the most since 1924, when Mussolini won 64 percent of the popular vote in elections. It seems that austerity is not working at all or has not been addressing the real culprit since spending has risen almost 3% in the last three years and taxes have not kept pace.

The reality is that austerity has been hitting only the soft target of an impoverished salaried middle class which is an easy target but has been largely ignoring the cronies, lobbies and potentates which are still corruptly and voraciously living of rent while stalling any real reform of the country.

March 2, 2013

Zona Velha de Funchal


“Arte de Portas Abertas” is a public art program that aims in transforming Funchal´s Old town (Zona Velha) into a permanent outdoor art gallery by displaying over 200 works of art, by guest artists, painted on the doors of Rua de Santa Maria.Below some of the highlights of this unique urban art experiment.

For a full list of the artists and info on the project visit: http://www.arteportasabertas.com/
















Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain desire? With wit and eloquence, Perel lets us in on the mystery of erotic intelligence.



Poverty in Europe


Italy is now worse than Spain, its poverty rate has climbed to 28.2%, even though the unemployment rates in the two nations are vastly different (Spain 26% and Italy 11.2%) reasons for such a higher poverty rate despite lower unemployment rates range from higher corruption levels compared to Spain to lack of unemployment benefits in Italy. Hardly surprising then that people voted en masse for Grillo and his MS5 which supports creating a dole system for those unable to find a job.


February 23, 2013

Global Risk Landscape 2013


The World Economic Forum created an intriguing set of 50 'global risks'. The global risk that respondents rated most likely to manifest over the next 10 years is severe income disparity, while the risk rated as having the highest impact if it were to manifest is major systemic financial failure. There are also two risks appearing in the top five of both impact and likelihood – chronic fiscal imbalances and water supply crisis.

The most 'worrying' risks are up and to the right (higher probability and high impact).

Chronic Fiscal Imbalances tops the chart along with Sever Income Disparity.





The Top 5 Global Risks by Impact have evolved notably over the past few years.




The Top 5 Global 'Most Likely' Risks have also evolved but Economic remains the most dominant.


February 20, 2013

Italian Elections increase doubts over long term reforms

Italians head to the polls on February 24-25 and never before the political scenario has been so chaotic and appalling.

We are witnessing new political movements like the 5 Stars movement climbing up to third place in a matter of months and never before we have seen Germany actively entering the Italian political debate to try and keep Berlusconi at bay.
 
All this is adding up to financial uncertainty on the future of Italy and at large of the Eurozone.

Pier Luigi Bersani, who heads the centre-left PD was considered the assumed new prime minister just a few short weeks ago, at least in the Chamber (the lower house of parliament).

It's all up in the air now as Silvio Berlusconi's PDL has staged a massive rally in the polls.

Berlusconi has been on a rampage lately blaming Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel for the unemployment problems in Italy, promising to refund the hated IMU (property tax) and more exotically declaring that tax evasion is justified.

Beppe Grillo's Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement) which has been largely ignored in the Italian press has been wildly popular at rallies. Grillo has a chance to come in second place.

Mario Monti, who heads the centrist Con Monti per l’Italia (With Monti for Italy) coalition, is running a very distant 4th.

Poll Blackouts

Officially, pollsters cannot post poll results in a blackout period before the election. That blackout period started February 9. Below Reuters' 8th of February polls.



Those results are misleading because they do not include undecided voters, and the undecided vote is a very large 20-25 percent!

With such little difference between Berlusconi and Bersani, and with huge rallies for Beppe Grillo and Berlusconi, any outcome is possible.

Germany Warns Against Berlusconi

Of potentially more importance, Berlin Warns Italians against Berlusconi

Here are a few examples from the story.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble reportedly said (but later denied) "Silvio Berlusconi may be an effective campaign strategist, but my advice to the Italians is not to make the same mistake again by re-electing him."

Polenz, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said: "Italy needs political leaders who stand for the future. Berlusconi is certainly not one of them."

One Italian bank even went so far this week as to issue a report arguing that a Berlusconi election would almost certainly force the country to apply for emergency bailout aid from the EU. Mediobanca, Italy's largest investment bank, wrote that "a last-minute Berlusconi victory would scare the market sufficiently to put pressure on the spread."

"Silvio the Savior"

Spiegel reports Berlusconi's Faithful: 'Only Silvio Can Save Italy'
Adoration of Berlusconi in Italy remains widespread. In the parallel universe occupied by his followers, there is no room for doubt about Berlusconi and lines are clearly drawn. Silvio is good and the others are bad.

These fans gather at his speeches, like the Saturday rally in Palermo, where thousands crowded into the venerable Teatro Politeama. There were women in long fur coats and fine gentlemen in three-piece suits. Dock workers like Ferrante squeezed with them through the entrance, everyone pushing and shoving each other like adolescents at a rock concert. The hundreds who didn't make it in must stand outside.

Fully a quarter of Italians are prepared to vote for Berlusconi again. It is an astounding degree of homage paid to man who faces allegations of abuse of power and bribery; who faces the scandal surrounding the underage escort Karima el-Marough, alias Ruby Rubacuori; who has been blasted for blatantly misogynistic comments; and who broke many promises as prime minister. Instead, the opposition, left-leaning judges and even the Germans are blamed for all that is not right with Italy.
At best, Bersani will win the Chamber and lose the Senate. That would likely result in a hung parliament.

Anti-German sentiment in Italy is high already. The entrance of German politicians into the battle may fuel that sentiment in a major way.

It is conceivable "Silvio the Savior" pulls off a stunning upset win in both the Chamber and Senate, but a Senate victory would still require a coalition (no party will come close to a majority).

It may be difficult if not impossible for any party to form a Senate coalition if Monti's party does poorly as expected.

Regardless Berlusconi there seems to be no good outcome for Italy.

January 13, 2013

2013 Economic Freedom Report highlight Italy's troubles

The appalling state of Italian economy is no longer getting international headlines but the slide of the county toward third world standards is continuing unabated.
The new 2013 report on Economic Freedom has been published; a full report can be found here and again Italy's ranking is a disaster for a major economy.

On the overall score Italy is ranking 83rd which by itself is an appalling result for a major developed economy, positioning itself below Uganda and Sri Lanka.

But when it comes to Freedom from Corruption Italy manage to score an appalling score of 39 together with Ghana and Macedonia.


Below some extracts from the report delving into an analysis of Italy's shortcomings:

The foundations of economic freedom remain weak in the absence of an efficient judicial framework to provide effective and timely resolution of cases. Corruption, often involving government officials, is a growing concern, severely undercutting confidence and trust in the government.

As per the rule of law and corruption Italy is faring among the worst countries, below the motivation for such low ranking:

Property rights and contracts are secure, but court procedures are extremely slow. Many companies choose to settle out of court. The legal system is vulnerable to political interference. Widespread corruption has bred a culture of lawlessness and tax evasion and has weakened respect for the judiciary. Enforcement of intellectual property rights is below developed-country standards.
And when it comes to attracting investments:

Regulatory complexity causes delays and increases the cost of entrepreneurial activity. Completing licensing requirements takes over 200 days and costs more than the level of average annual income. Serious labor market rigidities constrain job growth, and the informal labor market accounts for a large proportion of employment. Stagflation engendered by the eurozone crisis presents monumental monetary policy challenges.

       
       
Read more about Italy Economy.
        See more from the 2013 Index.

   

OVERALL SCORE BY COUNTRY:


Hong Kong 89.3
Singapore 88
Australia 82.6
New Zealand 81.4
Switzerland 81
Canada 79.4
Chile 79
Mauritius 76.9
Denmark 76.1
United States 76
Ireland 75.7
Bahrain 75.5
Estonia 75.3
United Kingdom 74.8
Luxembourg 74.2
Finland 74
The Netherlands 73.5
Sweden 72.9
Germany 72.8
Taiwan 72.7
Georgia 72.2
Iceland 72.1
Lithuania 72.1
Austria 71.8
Japan 71.8
Macau 71.7
Qatar 71.3
United Arab Emirates 71.1
Czech Republic 70.9
Botswana 70.6
Norway 70.5
Jordan 70.4
Saint Lucia 70.4
South Korea 70.3
The Bahamas 70.1
Uruguay  69.7
Colombia 69.6
Armenia 69.4
Barbados 69.3
Belgium 69.2
Cyprus 69
Slovakia 68.7
Macedonia 68.2
Peru 68.2
Oman 68.1
Spain 68
Malta 67.5
Hungary  67.3
Costa Rica  67
Mexico 67
Israel 66.9
Jamaica  66.8
El Salvador  66.7
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 66.7
Latvia 66.5
Malaysia  66.1
Poland 66
Albania 65.2
Romania 65.1
Bulgaria 65
France 64.1
Rwanda 64.1
Thailand  64.1
Dominica 63.9
Cape Verde 63.7
Kuwait 63.1
Portugal 63.1
Kazakhstan 63
Turkey 62.9
Montenegro 62.6
Panama  62.5
Trinidad and Tobago 62.3
Madagascar 62
South Africa 61.8
Mongolia 61.7
Slovenia 61.7
Croatia 61.3
Ghana 61.3
Paraguay  61.1
Uganda 61.1
Sri Lanka 60.7
Italy 60.6
Saudi Arabia 60.6
Namibia 60.3
Guatemala  60
Burkina Faso 59.9
Azerbaijan 59.7
Dominican Republic 59.7
Kyrgyz Republic  59.6
Morocco 59.6
Lebanon 59.5
The Gambia 58.8
Zambia 58.7
Serbia  58.6
Cambodia 58.5
Honduras  58.4
The Philippines 58.2
Tanzania 57.9
Gabon 57.8
Brazil 57.7
Benin 57.6
Belize 57.3
Bosnia and Herzegovina 57.3
Fiji 57.2
Swaziland 57.2
Samoa 57.1
Tunisia 57
Indonesia 56.9
Nicaragua  56.6
Vanuatu 56.6
Mali 56.4
Tonga 56
Kenya 55.9
Yemen 55.9
Moldova 55.5
Senegal 55.5
Greece 55.4
Malawi 55.3
India 55.2
Nigeria 55.1
Pakistan  55.1
Bhutan 55
Mozambique  55
Seychelles 54.9
Egypt 54.8
Côte d'Ivoire  54.1
Djibouti 53.9
Niger 53.9
Guyana 53.8
Papua New Guinea 53.6
Tajikistan 53.4
Bangladesh  52.6
Cameroon 52.3
Mauritania 52.3
Suriname 52
China 51.9
Guinea 51.2
Guinea-Bissau 51.1
Russia 51.1
Vietnam 51
Central African Republic 50.4
Nepal 50.4
Laos 50.1
Micronesia 50.1
Algeria 49.6
Ethiopia 49.4
Liberia 49.3
Burundi 49
Maldives 49
Togo 48.8
Sierra Leone 48.3
Haiti 48.1
Belarus 48
São Tomé and Príncipe  48
Bolivia 47.9
Lesotho 47.9
Comoros 47.5
Angola 47.3
Ecuador 46.9
Argentina 46.7
Ukraine 46.3
Uzbekistan 46
Kiribati 45.9
Chad 45.2
Solomon Islands 45
Timor-Leste 43.7
Republic of Congo  43.5
Iran 43.2
Turkmenistan 42.6
Equatorial Guinea 42.3
Democratic Republic of Congo 39.6
Burma 39.2
Eritrea 36.3
Venezuela  36.1
Zimbabwe 28.6
Cuba 28.5
North Korea 1.5