Top 10 links; US housing rebound; Asian stimuli; Big Bang Bad Bank; Bruce Sheppard on break fees

Top 10 links; US housing rebound; Asian stimuli; Big Bang Bad Bank; Bruce Sheppard on break fees
Here's my top 10 news links for the day. Again, I welcome your gems in the comments below. US housing recovery? In perhaps an early sign of some recovery in the US housing markets, figures released overnight showed a surprise 6.3% rise in pending home resales in December as buyers snap up foreclosed homes at bargain prices and as mortgage interest rates dropped. However, there were also figures showing 19 million US homes are vacant, partly because of foreclosures. Car sale Ford and GM released figures showing US car sales dropped more than expected in January, suggesting the US consumer economy is falling even deeper into recession. GM sales fell a shocking 49%. Stimuli Meanwhile in Japan, the Bank of Japan has announced it planned to spend U$11 billion buying shares held by Japanese banks. The usual dumb Japanese government idea to deny the truth about failing assets. In China, the Premier Wen Jiabao told the FT he was considering a fresh stimulus package on top of the US$585 billion one already in the works. He has a problem.  A long range 'dong' Also, a tad ominously, there are fears North Korea may be about to test launch its Taepodong 2 missile, which is capable of hitting the west coast of the United States. It appears Kim Jong Il wants to attract the attention of new US President Barack Obama before asking him for more money. Putin's medicine Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the Davos forum that is getting plenty of attention. It's worth reading, but I just don't believe a guy telling us to be more market oriented, less state focused and less protectionist. He's a dictator that has built up his economy on an unreasonably high oil price and has progressively stolen back for the state assets that were (to be fair) stolen from the state in the 1990s. Many thanks to our most loyal commenters who pointed this speech out on another thread. Big Bang Bad bank ? The debate about 'Bad Banks' is raging in the US and elsewhere. Here's a thoughtful contribution from European policy wonk Daniel Gros in the FT saying we need a big bang where essentially the state takes all the debt for nothing. Price discovery is pointless, he says. Just take it. Fair enough, I reckon. Is that Manila speaking? The excellent Mauricio Freitas has a good story that Telecom is keeping its main Hamilton call centre, but will offshore 250 other jobs over the next 18 months to Manila. Globalisation at work. This is a good thing. 'Thrown under the bus' Another insight into the dark world of Wall St here from John Taplin's  blog revealing a conversation had just before Bear Stearns' collapse. Chilling. Break fees consistency Bruce Sheppard is usually very good value in his Stuff blog. His piece on break fees is constructive and interesting. He spells out a solution for making such fees more consistent and fair. Well worth reading. L shaped or U shaped William Pesek at Bloomberg looks at the comparisons between the US now Japan back at the beginning of the lost decade of economic stagnation, with the help of the always excellent Nouriel Roubini.          

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