Archive for May 2010

Pertamina can increase oil lifting to 200,000 bpd

Monday, May 17, 2010 · Posted in

State Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar said that state-owned oil firm Pertamina was able to increase its oil and gas lifting from 182,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 200,000 bpd by maximizing its existing oil and gas fields.

"I hope that Pertamina would maximize the production of Cepu field which so far has not yet been fully exploited," the minister said here on Sunday.

The minister said he had asked the board of commissioners of Pertamina to make efforts so that Pertamina would be able to meet its production target.

He said that he had not yet received any report even if he had just had an audience with Pertamina commissioners. They had not yet talked about liquefied petroleum gas. They had talked about lifting.

Increasing gas lifting would depend on the operations of gas receiving terminals.

Pertamina and state-owned gas distributor firm PGN were asked to cooperate in managing the Arun gas stock tanks.

He did not provide details on funds needed for that purposes.

"What is certain is that a big fund would be needed. Pertamina has enough funds for the development of the upstream sector," the minister said.

Pertamina has allocated capital expenditure for 2010 amounting to Rp39 trillion, or a sharp increase of 56.4 percent from that in 2009 which stood at Rp22 trillion.

The increase in the capital expenditure is to support the increase in the number of new projects owned by Pertamina and the plan to develop new refinery plants.

Of the Rp39 trillion, 70 percent would be used for activities in the upstream sector, the remaining 30 percent would be allocated for down stream activities.

Mustafa said that in order to finance capital expenditure, the government was planning to issue bonds and ask for loans for working capital to boost oil production.

"So far, Pertamina`s oil lifting reached 182,000 bpd and is expected to increase to 200,000 bpd," the minister said.

RI, Germany hold 1st senior officials consultation meeting

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The Indonesian and German governments held the first senior officials consultation meeting here on Monday to follow up the results of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s visit to Germany in December 2009.

The meeting discussed efforts to promote bilateral cooperation in various fields for the benefit of the two peoples` welfare besides regional and global issues of common interests, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Indonesia hoped the bilateral consultation would serve as a regular forum to explore the possibility of new cooperation between the two countries as well as to discuss possible hindrances to the realization of bilateral cooperation, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Germany deemed it necessary to hold the consultation meeting regularly, realizing that Indonesia was a large democratic country which had strong economy and influence in the region, it said.

The Indonesian delegation to the meeting was led by the ministry`s director general of America and Europe, Ambassador Retno L.P. Marsudi, accompanied by the chief of the Indonesian mission in Berlin, Ambassador Eddy Pratomo, director of western Europe Dewa Made Juniarta Sastrawan, and relevant officials of the ministry.

The German delegation was meanwhile led by the director general of Asia and the Pacific at the German Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Cyrill J. Nunn, accompanied by German Ambassador to Indonesia Dr. Norbert Baas, officials of the ministry`s directorate general of culture and staff members of the German embassy in Jakarta.

RI, Singapore to form economic cooperation working groups

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Indonesia and Singapore have agreed to form six working groups to intensify economic cooperation between the two countries.

The agreement was reached at a Leaders` Retreat meeting for three hours between Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singapore`s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong at Botanic Garden here on Monday.

At a press conference at Hotel Shangrila that evening President Yudhoyono said the working groups were aimed at increasing cooperation in Batam, Bintan and Karimun in the fields of investment, air transportation, tourism, manpower and agri-business.

"Learning from past experience with the agreement future problems and obstacles could at any time be identified. In view of that we agreed to form six working groups to carry out cooperation in the economic fields," he said.

He said the working groups would be put under the coordination of Indonesian chief economic minister Hatta Radjasa while each group will be led by technical ministers concerned who would report periodically to their heads of state respectively.

The working groups set up with an aim of finding opportinuties for mutually beneficial cooperation would also involve regions because Singapore is not only interested in investing in Jakarta but also in other provinces, he said.

Regarding the cooperation in Batam, Bintan and Karimun Yudhoyono said Indonesia could obtain an added value from the establishment of the special zone because Singapore would not be able to expand its territory to meet its growing industries.

In view of that areas located around Singapore like Batam, Bintan and Karimun could take a benefit out of the situation, he said.

President Yudhoyono said closer cooperation with Singapore was also expected in the tourism and air transportation sectors especially with regard to the implementation of the Asean Open Sky policy in 2015.

In the field of manpower Indonesia hopes with the cooperation more skilled and professional workers from the country would get a place in the Singapore manpower market.

In the field of agribusiness President Yudhoyono said Indonesian vegetables and fruits now still contributed a small portion in the Singapore market.

Before 2014, Yudhoyono said Indonesia wished to take up to 30 percent share of the Singapore vegetable and fruit market.

Indonesia and Singapore have also established a working group to coordinate cooperation against terrorism threats in the region.

"The working group on combating terrorism has run and we wish it will be implemented more effectively," he said.

In the meeting President Yudhoyono emphasized Singapore`s important position as a strong partner in investment and trade.

The two leaders in the meeting did not discuss other issues other than economic and terrorism issues such as extradition agreement.

The trade between the two countries in 2009 reached US$25 billion which is the highest after with the US, Japan and China.Singapore`s investment in Indonesia in 2009 reached US$4.5 billion.

Riau Airlines injected with rp55.4 billion

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A general meeting of shareholders agreed to inject Rp55.4 billion into Riau Airlines to improve the company`s performance and for buying more planes.

President Commissioner of Riau Airlines Wan Syamsir Yus said after attending the general meeting of the airline company`s shareholders in Pekanbaru on Monday night that up to the end of December this year two planes will be used on hire-purchase basis in mid-June and early in July 2010 namely a Boeing 737-500 and Boeing 737-300 from Hong Kong.

The shareholders also agreed to the company`s plan on an operational cooperation with European companies in operating 14 Embraer ERJ 145 jets and seven Embraer E 170s.

The company`s management also had been asked to make a financial evaluation of a number of shareholder routes and a request that each new route will be served if meeting the requirements and income criteria of the new routes covering operational cost.

"The president commissioner has the task of controlling and reporting the developments of Riau Airlines once in every three months to the shareholders," Wan Syamsir said.

For the company`s internal improvements, he said the state airline company in Sumatra island also needs to conduct efficiency measures in various fields and managerial improvement like organizational restructuring, optimizing work, review of remunerations and use of operational expenses.

The Riau administration as majority shareholder of Riau Airlines said commitment to give a capital for performance improvements.

President Director of Riau Airlines Teguh Triyanto, who had been installed only five months ago as a pilot, said he will conduct external and internal reforms as agreed to in the shareholders general meeting.

"As employee, we are ready to give the best for the company and focus on improvement of services and fly to the regions of Sumatra island," said Teguh who was once Vice President of PT Garuda Indonesia.

Batam Authority seeking private developers of apartment

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The Batam Authority will seek other developers to build private apartment houses if those who had been granted land permits still had not started building their projects for lack of profit reasons.

"We will tell them to return the permits so that we could give them to truly serious developers," Director of Workers` Residences and Social Development of the Batam Authority Fitrah Kamaruddin said in Batam on Monday.

Right now it has been more than three years that 52 developers had control of plots of land of the Batam Authority for private apartment houses.

"It was only in Batam Centre Park that private developers cooperated with PT Jamsostek and State Savings Bank (BTN) in building apartment houses," he said.

Batam has a population of 1.025 million people, including 300 thousand industrial workers, but only 10 thousands of them have apartment houses.

Those who are not staying at the dormitories of their industries, had to rent type-21 houses, while subcontract workers are allowed to stay at room of shop houses.
In the meantime, some formal workers are staying or renting rooms in illegal residential complexes built on government land.

The Batam Authority, Fitrah added, has built apartment houses in strategic areas to enable the workers to reduce their transportation expanses, enjoy electricity, clean water, and security.

The Batam city administration has in mid-2009 completed the construction of four apartment buildings with 390 family rooms in Sei Harapan village, Sekupang, side by side with four apartment buildings built several years ago under the management of Batam Authority.

Some of the tenants of the Batam Authority apartment houses have moved to those of Batam city administration which Fitrah said were actually built for informal workers with wages of less than Rp 2 million per month.

"This is obviously to our detriment", he said.

The tenants of the formal sector, he said, disagreed with the consensus between the Batam city administration and the Batam Authority, namely that the Batam city administration apartment houses in Sei Harapan were built to remove the illegal houses.

The Batam Authority has repeatedly warned the management of the Batam city administration apartment houses in Sei Harapan to obey the agreement and the task of removing the illegal settlements.

"No improvements are in sight, except promises," Fitrah said.

NBA team sale to Russian tycoon Prokhorov approved

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 · Posted in

The US National Basketball Association (NBA) has approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets franchise to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Mr Prokhorov, whose fortune, according to Forbes magazine, stands at $13.4bn (£8.9bn), becomes the first non-North American owner in the league.

The Nets lost 70 out of 82 games last season, including a record 18-game losing streak.

Mr Prokhorov told fans that he intended to give them "plenty to cheer about".

Under the deal agreed last September, Mr Prokhorov would acquire 80% of the basketball club and 45% of the Nets' arena project in Brooklyn.

The deal is thought to be worth more than $200m.


The 45-year-old Russian tycoon, who made his fortune in the metal business, also owns a stake in Russian basketball club CSKA.

"We anticipate that his passion for the game and business acumen will be of considerable value not only to the Nets franchise but to the entire NBA," said NBA commissioner David Stern.

The best basketball players from around the world play in NBA.

The Nets' 12-70 season result was the worst in the NBA league last season.

source: BBC

UK unemployment increases to 2.51 million

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The number of people unemployed in the UK rose by 53,000 to 2.51 million during the three months to March, official figures have shown.

The unemployment total is now at its highest level since December 1994.

However, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell in April by 27,100 to 1.52 million - a sharper fall than expected.

The rate of unemployment remained at 8%, the Office for National Statistics said.

There was also a rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive - those out of work and not seeking work. They rose by almost 100,000 to a record total of just under 8.2 million.

The ONS figures showed youth unemployment rising, with 941,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in the January to March period - a rise of 18,000 on the previous three months. The number of over-50s out of work for more than a year climbed 12,000 on the quarter to 146,000.

And 1,066,000 people said they were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job - up by 25,000.

John Philpott of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the latest data underlined how tough a challenge the new coalition government faced.

"The big task for the government is trying to stimulate growth while also cutting the deficit," he told the BBC.

"There's nothing to suggest we're going to get a return to anything approaching full employment anytime soon."

And Brian Johnson, an insolvency practitioner at HW Fisher chartered accountants, said that those who had predicted that the worst of unemployment was over were wrong.

"If it were not bad enough already, we can expect significant public sector job losses, as the new government sets about cutting spending immediately in order to reduce the deficit.

"With private sector collapses and public sector cuts, we expect unemployment to continue to rise during the remainder of 2010 and on into 2011."

source: BBC

Microsoft Office 2010 takes aim at Google Docs

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Microsoft is preparing to launch its latest weapon in its ongoing battle with Google.

The software giant will launch its flagship product Office 2010 to businesses on 12 May.

The latest version of the software has a free online component - called Office Web Apps.

Analysts believe the web offering is a response to Google, which has been encroaching on Microsoft's core business with its free online tools.

Crucially, Microsoft will also offer its online office suite to all users of one of the world's most popular social networking sites, Facebook.

"There's no question - Microsoft is responding to Google's threat," said Whit Andrews, analyst at research firm Gartner.

'Microsoft world'
Google and Microsoft have increasingly begun to stray into each other's traditional markets.

Microsoft has thrown its full weight behind its search engine Bing, whilst Google is about to launch its own operating system, known as Chrome OS.

The battle for the Office software market started in 2006 when the search giant launched the first elements of its Google Docs.

"Until Google emerged with a credible suite of networked applications, Microsoft was not compelled to do anything."

Google Docs now offers word-processing, spreadsheet software and a presentation tool, amongst others. Businesses can pay for premium versions.

It currently has a small (4%) but growing share of the market.

By contrast, Microsoft dominates the Office software space, with a market share of more than 94%, according to Gartner. The vast majority of sales are to businesses.

Business "is still overwhelmingly a Microsoft world", said Sheri McLeish, analyst at Forrester Research.

Microsoft retains its dominant position despite the free offerings from Google and other alternatives such as Zoho or the free office suite

However, Mr Andrews warned that these offerings - and particularly those that were web based - were likely to appeal to younger people, who have not necessarily grown up using Microsoft products.

"If all your content is generated in the Google apps system and it lives there, you would need to have a really good reason to move," he told BBC News.

Social software
Office Web Apps offers a free version of programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The service allows people to access and edit documents from within a web browser, as well as share and collaborate on files. It lacks the entire gamut of features found in the desktop versions.

Microsoft has said that the suite will be offered free to its 400 million Windows Live users.

"It is critical that Microsoft capture users who are not tethered to the same desktop PC every day," said Mr Andrews.

"They need to be able to serve the growing netbook community and people using their phones."

The firm has also integrated the social web into its software in a bid to attract new customers and keep the desktop software relevant in an increasingly online world.

Its Social Connector service allows people to suck in information from social networks such as LinkedIn and MySpace into the Office Outlook e-mail program.

The firm has also released a trial version of its online apps that integrates with Facebook.

"With the changes that have happened with social networking and web applications, Microsoft is bringing [Office] up to the present day," said Ms McLeish.

The software for PCs and phones will be launched at an event in New York on 12 May. Business customers will be able to use it straight away, whilst home users will have to wait until June to buy the full version.

source: BBC

German economic growth beat forecasts in first quarter

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The German economy, Europe's largest, expanded 0.2% in the first quarter of 2010, beating forecasts of zero growth.

Many analysts predicted German gross domestic product would stagnate in the quarter.

The country's statistics office, Destatis, also revised growth upwards in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 0.2% from its first estimate of no growth.

This meant that GDP contraction for 2009 had been reduced to 4.9%, Destatis said.

"The German economy is slowly gaining momentum," Destatis said in a statement.

The better-than-expected first quarter figure came despite Germany's harsh winter, which hampered construction activity.

Destatis said that exports and investments in industrial equipment were the main drivers of growth.

The German government has forecast growth of 1.4% this year.

Germany went into recession in 2008 as demand for its exports dried up amid the global recession.

Export recovery
After shrinking for four straight quarters, including a 3.5% fall in the first quarter of 2009, Germany emerged from recession in the second quarter of last year.

Germany lost its position as the world's biggest exporter to China last year, but exports have been recovering recently.

Earlier this month, the government said exports in April jumped by 10.7% compared with March and were up by nearly a quarter from a year ago.

source: BBC

President urged to decide over Senoro gas field project

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must make a decision regarding the Donggi-Senoro gas field so that the US$3.7 million worth project could be continued, a legislator said.

Lawmaker Sutan Bhatoegana of the Democrat Party Faction of the House of Reprsentatives (DPR) said here on Tuesday that the president had to taken over the problem.

"Vice President Boediono should take the Senoro gas field issue to a cabinet meeting so that the cabinet could decide the continuation of the project," Bhatoegana said.

Vice Presidential Spokesman Yopie Hidayat said earlier that the vice president had no authority to decide on the Senoro gas field project.

The vice president was considering whether the decision on the continuation of the Senoro project should be decided by a cabinet meeting or only by the minister of energy and mineral resources.

"If the problem needs to involve relevant ministries, the decision should then be made in a cabinet meeting. But if the problem is simple it could be decided by the energy and mineral resources minister only," Yopie said.

source: antaranews

Thailand`s vehicles sales surge in first 4 months of 2010

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Thailand's total sales of vehicles in the first four months of 2010 (January-April) reached 223,361 units, up 58 per cent from the corresponding period last year, according to Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co.

Toyota retained its rank as the top distributor with 92,406 units, up 53.3 per cent, followed by Isuzu with 46,071 units, up 43.8 per cent, Honda with 29,739 units, up 78.8 per cent, Nissan with 13,208 units, up 75 per cent, Mitsubishi with 10,483 unit, up 100.9 per cent, and Mazda with 10,483 units, up 219 per cent.

Total vehicle sales in April were 57,111 units, up 44 per cent from the same month the year before. Of this, 24,367 units are cars, up 69 per cent, 22,235 units are one-ton pickups, up 18 per cent, and 10,509 units are other kinds of vehicles.

Strikes possible as BA cabin crew reject offer

Sunday, May 9, 2010 · Posted in

British Airways cabin crew have "overwhelmingly rejected an offer" aimed at ending a long-running row over pay and conditions, Unite has said.

The union said, with turnout of 71%, thousands had voted and there had been an 81% majority against the proposals offered by the airline.

Unite had "strongly recommended" its members reject the offer, raising the possibility of more strikes.

British Airway said the offer had been "very fair" and it was disappointed.
In a statement, BA said it was "not too late for Unite to put an end to this dispute.

"British Airways is disappointed but not surprised that Unite has clearly orchestrated a rejection of a very fair offer that addresses all the concerns raised during 14 months of talks.

"We urge Unite to put an end to this unnecessary dispute and focus on the best interests of its members. There can be nothing positive to be gained from further strikes."

Notice period
Cabin crew strikes in March led to widespread disruption for passengers, which the airline said cost it £45m.

Further disruption to flights caused by ash from the Icelandic volcano in April cost it an additional £180m.

Unite will have to give a week's notice of any new planned strikes.

Cabin crew face no pay cut or reduction in terms and conditions - and remain the best rewarded in the UK airline industry."

Cabin crew representatives are set to meet Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, Unite's joint general secretaries, to plan their next move.

The two men said: "BA management should take note of their own employees' strong rejection of their offer and immediately address the outstanding concerns.

"They should make no mistake that Unite is fully committed to supporting our members in furthering this dispute if no resolution is found."

British Airways defended the offer and said: "The majority of our crew came to work during the previous strikes and demonstrated their firm commitment to our customers, despite their union's callous disregard for the travelling public.

"Unlike other businesses and airlines, we have avoided compulsory redundancies. Cabin crew face no pay cut or reduction in terms and conditions - and remain the best rewarded in the UK airline industry."

'Politically motivated'
But in a letter to cabin crew, before the results were announced, Mr Woodley said that BA was treating staff like second-class citizens who had been "branded" for going on strike.

He said the union was urging rejection of the new offer because BA had failed to restore travel perks taken away from those who went on strike and disciplinary action was being taken against more than 50 union members.

The ballot result comes a day after Duncan Holley, a leading union official at BA, claimed he was sacked for gross misconduct for taking time off work before Christmas to carry out union duties.

The Unite branch secretary said his dismissal after 12 years was "politically motivated". BA said it would not comment on individual disciplinary cases.


Election 2010: Pound volatile on hung parliament

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The pound was volatile on Friday after the UK general election proved inconclusive but recovered as leaders pledged to form a government.

Sterling traded 0.2% higher against the dollar at $1.4789 having hit a 13-month low of $1.4475.

It also clawed back some losses against the euro but was still 1.4% lower at 1.159 euros.

The markets are concerned that a weak government might be unable to reduce the UK's high budget deficit quickly.

However, ratings agency Moody's said the outcome of the election would have no bearing on the UK's credit rating.

The agency said it was assuming an incoming government would be able "to muster convincing parliamentary support for a fiscal adjustment that is no looser nor slower than was outlined by all three political parties" in the run-up to the election.

Another leading ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, also said it had not changed its view on the UK in light of the election result.

UK shares fell sharply, with the FTSE 100 closing down 2.6%, after stocks on Wall Street dropped in early trading.

The biggest UK fallers included the big banks. Shares fell by as much as 9% in afternoon trading before recovering slightly.

Barclays finished 6% lower, Lloyds fell 5.5% and RBS was down 5.7%.

The cost of government borrowing also increased.

Other European markets also fell as fears about the Greek debt crisis continued, with France's Cac 40 index down 4.6% and Germany's Dax index down 3.3%.

Leading Asian shares indexes had slipped overnight, with Japan's Nikkei closing down 3.1%.

High debts
"This messy [political] state of affairs is proving unsettling for the markets, with sterling sinking to a one-year low against the dollar and even losing ground against the euro, which has been torpedoed by the eurozone debt crisis," said Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight.

Investors are worried that a hung parliament will result in a weak government that will be unable to force through measures to reduce the UK's high borrowing levels.

"Strong leadership and consensus are required to deal with the serious threats still facing the economy," said Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce.

Investors are also concerned that the parties will spend too long negotiating with each other over the formation of a new government.

Miles Templeman, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: "It's vital that this political vacuum is filled as quickly as possible. The country simply can't afford an extended period of political horse-trading which delays much-needed action to tackle the deficit.

"Politicians have postponed the difficult decisions on public spending cuts for too long already. Further delay will only jeopardise the future of the UK economy."

Rescue package

The problem of high government debt has been brought into sharp focus by events in Greece, which has been forced to turn to its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund for rescue loans.

Although the UK has a much lower level of overall debt than Greece, its budget deficit is almost as high.

European leaders will meet later in Brussels to agree the final details of of a 110bn-euro ($139bn; £86bn) loan package to Greece, while the G7 finance ministers are also due to discuss the Greek debt crisis.

There are concerns that other European countries, particularly Spain and Portugal, may become engulfed in the crisis as investors shun government bonds.

On Friday, the cost of Greek and Portuguese government debt continued to rise, providing further evidence that investors remain unconvinced by the proposed rescue package for Greece.


Moody’s: SEC considering action against us

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Moody's Corp disclosed on Friday that its credit rating unit could face enforcement action from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly misleading regulators in a 2007 application to remain a nationally recognized rating agency.

Moody's said in a filing late on Friday that the SEC is mulling starting an administrative case and "cease-and-desist" proceedings, and that a so-called Wells Notice was received from the SEC on March 18.

Regulators send Wells Notices to firms or people to alert them of the likelihood that the government will file an enforcement action against them. Companies or people being investigated have the right to argue why they should not be charged by filing a "Wells submission."

According to Moody's filing, the SEC claims that Moody's description of its procedures for determining credit ratings was "false and misleading" because of Moody's own finding that a policy had been violated internally.

In the filing, Moody's said it disagrees with the SEC and said it had sent a response explaining why its application was accurate and why it believes enforcement is uncalled for.

The SEC is specifically looking at Moody's response to its own finding that in April 2007, members of a European rating surveillance committee had violated its code of conduct.

Moody's relatively short six-week lag in disclosing that it got a Wells Notice stands in sharp contrast to Goldman Sachs Group Inc's failure to disclose that it had received a Wells Notice in September and was facing potential civil liability in the Abacus CDO case. Those facts came to light only after the SEC announced fraud charges last month.

At the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway Inc last week, Warren Buffett defended his firm's maintenance of its stake in Moody's, which is now below 14 percent. Buffett also said that the agencies "made the same" mistake that he, politicians, mortgage brokers and others did in overestimating the health of the housing market.

Like rival Standard & Poor's, owned by McGraw-Hill Cos Inc, Moody's Investors Service has been criticized for failing to spot the problems that led to the global financial crisis, and it is facing increased regulation.

Moody's acknowleged in the filing that credit rating agencies "are the subject if intense scrutiny" following the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

Moody's also said in the filing that it is facing litigation from market participants related to how the securities it has rated have performed and said the cost of defending itself "has significantly increased".

In the filing, Moody's said its Wall Street Analytics unit was co-operating with an SEC and U.S. Department of Justice investigation into services it provided to financial institutions regarding the valuations of some of the financial instruments they held.

The filing did not provide details and a spokesperson for Moody's could not immediately be reached for comment.

In February, Moody's warned of rising compliance costs.


Bernanke to grads: Money can’t buy happiness

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Your parents were right. Money can't buy you happiness. That was the message from the Federal Reserve chairman on Saturday to graduates of the University of South Carolina.

"We all know that getting a better-paying job is one of the main reasons to go to college. ... But if you are ever tempted to go into a field or take a job only because the pay is high and for no other reason, be careful!" Ben Bernanke said in his commencement address.

"Having a larger income is exciting at first, but as you get used to your new standard of living and as you associate with other people in your new income bracket, the thrill quickly wears off," he said.

The Fed released his prepared remarks before he gave the speech.

Studies found that just six months after winning a large lottery prize — even in the million of dollars — people reported being not much happier than they were before winning, Bernanke said.

Bernanke's advice blended what economics and social science have to say about personal happiness. When you boil down all the studies and fancy formulas, it sounds a lot like what your parents told you.

Other findings: Happy people tend to spend time with friends and family. Happy people tend to do what they love for a living or a hobby. Happy people tend to feel in control of their lives.

Happiness research is useful for policymakers, too, Bernanke said.

The Fed's goals include promoting economic growth and employment. Richer countries tend to report higher levels of satisfaction because they tend to be healthier, have more leisure time to pursue hobbies and have more interesting work, Bernanke pointed out. Richer countries tend to have few citizens in deep poverty, he added.

Sometimes being unhappy is a good thing.

"It is possible that doing the ethical thing will make you feel, well, unhappy," Bernanke told the graduates. "In the long run, though, it is essential for a well-balanced and satisfying life."


Spain's economy edges out of recession

Friday, May 7, 2010 · Posted in

Spain's economy emerged from recession after growing by 0.1% in the first three months of 2010, the country's central bank has said.

The growth ended six successive quarters of contraction.

Earlier this week, official figures showed Spain's jobless rate had hit 20% for the first time in nearly 13 years.

Earlier this week, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Spanish government debt over fears for the country's economic outlook.

The Spanish economy shrank by 3.6% in 2009.

Global shares fall on Greece debt worries

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Global stock markets have fallen sharply, amid investor fears that Greece's debt crisis could halt the global economic recovery.

In the US, the Dow Jones index fell 0.7%, while France's Cac 40 closed down 4.6%, the UK's FTSE 100 shed 2.6% and Germany's Dax lost 3.3%.

Japan's Nikkei index shed 3.1%, having fallen by 4.1% in morning trading.

Sterling also fell sharply against the dollar and the euro as results poured in from the UK general election.

The pound fell more than 3 cents, or 2.1%, against the dollar, to $1.4633.

Against the euro, it fell by 2.6 cents, or 2.2%, to 1.1478 euros.

The UK election resulted in a hung parliament, which raised concerns among investors that a weak government might not be able to implement policies quickly to reduce the UK's high budget deficit.

However, sterling later bounced back against both the dollar and the euro as talks were due to begin between leaders in an attempt to form a government.

Contagion fear

The continued global turmoil on the stock markets comes a day after Greek MPs approved drastic spending cuts in exchange for an international financial rescue plan, amid violent protests in Athens.

European leaders are meeting in Brussels to finalise details of a 110bn-euro ($139bn; £86bn) loan package to Greece, while the G7 finance ministers have also discussed the Greek debt crisis and its implications for the global economy.

"The reason for today's fall is what everybody knows - Greece," said Hideaki Higashi at SMBC Friend Securities.

"The market is factoring in the possibility that this Greek problem will spread to Spain and Portugal."

Both Spain and Portugal also have high budget deficits and were downgraded by Standard & Poor's credit rating agency last week. There are fears they could be engulfed by the Greek debt crisis.

Cash injection

Among the stock markets in Asia, South Korea's Kospi dropped by 2.2%, while China's Shanghai index fell 1.9%. Shares in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore also fell.

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he was "very concerned" by the losses.

The country's central bank said it would inject more than $20bn (£13bn) in short-term loans to commercial banks to boost liquidity.

"The Bank of Japan aims to increase a sense of security in the markets by providing ample funds," said Bank of Japan official Yuichi Adachi.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says the crisis in Europe hurts Japan because its economy has relied on exports for growth.

And as investors flee the euro for currencies perceived to be safer, such as the yen, Japan's currency strengthens, making the products of its companies more expensive abroad, our correspondent adds.

In New York, the Dow Jones share index plummeted 9% at one point before bouncing back to end Thursday down 3.2%.

The BBC's Caroline Hepker in New York says there are rumours that the drop may have been caused by an erroneous "fat finger" trade at a Wall Street bank.

The New York Stock Exchange said it had found no error, but the Securities and Exchange Commission and Procter & Gamble, which saw its shares hit, are reviewing the matter.

Rupiah's fall against dollar not worrying: BI

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The central bank said the weakening rupiah level against the US dollar was "not worrying" because the reported figures were not the currency's fundamental rate, and it would continue to guard the rupiah.

"Bank Indonesia (BI) is always in the market. We have scrutinized this [trend] over the last two days and we guard [the rupiah] tightly so [volatility] does not become too extreme," acting BI Governor Darmin Nasution said Friday, citing Euro debt problems as one reason for the drop.

The rupiah has fallen by 3 percent against the dollar this week, among the currencies worst hit in Asia. The rupiah rate fell to Rp 9,265 – Rp 9,275 against the dollar on Friday as compared to Rp 9,080 – Rp 9,090 a day earlier.

"This is not too worrying because it's not the fundamental [rate]. The rupiah should strengthen against the dollar. This is temporary," he added.

Darmin dismissed concerns the Euro debt problem could cause another economic crisis.

He said in times of panic investors choose to buy dollars, deemed the safest financial instrument.

World Bank appoints Sri Mulyani managing director

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 · Posted in

World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick has announced the appointment of Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as managing director of the World Bank Group.

“She has been an outstanding finance minister, with in-depth knowledge of both development issues and the role of the World Bank Group,” Zoellick stated in a press release.

“As a member of the senior team she will play a key role in helping to lead the bank as we move to strengthen client support, implement our reform program, and anticipate future challenges,” he said

Sri Mulyani will start June 1 as one of the Washington-based bank’s three managing directors, the highest rank under Zoellick.

Mulyani, according to the press release, accepted the appointment, saying: “It is a great honor for me and for my country to have this opportunity to contribute to the very important mission of the bank in changing the world".

The appointment follows an international search process. Mulyani, 47, will replace Juan Jose Daboub, who will complete his four-year term June 30, overseeing 74 nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, East Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, the bank said. Daboub is a former El Salvador finance minister.

Mulyani and Vice President Boediono have been the target of an opposition campaign accusing them of abusing their authority during the Rp 6.7 trillion ($740 million) bailout of Bank Century in 2008.

source: thejakatapost

How to avoid a costly hiring mistake

Saturday, May 1, 2010 · Posted in

At first blush, the job interview can seem like a simple enough meeting to conduct: shake hands, make small talk, ask questions, and compare the candidates. But how do you keep from hiring someone whose best skill is coming off well in a job interview?

"There's actually a lot of preparation that goes into a good professional interview," says Janis Whitaker, the author of "Interviewing by Example." "Most people can't wing it off of the top of their heads."

The cost of a bad hire is steep, and it's not just the wasted salary that's expensive. Severance payments, training time, potential customer problems, and recruiting a replacement are all items that you'd prefer to leave out of your budget. Many experts estimate that the cost of a bad hire exceeds the annual salary of a position.

To prevent your company from making an expensive hiring mistake, it's important to have an intentional process for conducting interviews. Here's how to formulate questions and develop a process that will give you the most information for selecting a new employee.

Know what you’re after
Before you start searching for the perfect candidate, you need to spend some time thinking about the job. Think about previous people who have held the position and what skills, knowledge, and personal qualities made them successful or unsuccessful. If possible, ask these people or their supervisors what factors contribute to being a good candidate for the job. Make a list of these factors and make sure that everyone involved with the selection process agrees that this is the criteria they are looking for.

"It is important that everyone on the team is on the same page with what the objective is and what the job entails," says Jim Sullivan, the president of an executive recruiting firm called Galaxy Management Group. "[Otherwise] a candidate will come in to interview with one person and then be asked completely different questions by the second person because the second person thinks the job is about something else completely."

Ask the right questions
By using the criteria you have decided on, you can form pointed questions that make the most of your time with the candidate. Tom S. Turner, a Vancouver-based independent consultant who designs selection systems, uses a list of about seven to 12 criteria and develops four questions for each factor he is looking for. Two questions are positively worded, meaning they ask the candidate to speak about something he or she did well. One question is negatively worded, meaning it asks the candidate to think about a time when they made a mistake and how they dealt with it. And the last question serves as a backup in case the candidate draws a blank on one of the other questions.

There are many different approaches to creating job interview questions:

Fact-based or general questions: "How many years did you work at [company x?]
Most interviews include some questions that clarify information listed on the candidate's resume. Questions that ask about why the candidate wants to pursue a job in a specific field or with your company also fall into this category.

Situational or hypothetical questions: "What would you do if you saw a co-worker stealing from the company?"
Asking the candidate what he or she would do if placed in a certain situation is a situational question. "It's not a bad technique," Whitaker says, "But a lot of people can answer those questions 'of course I would do this and I would be nice to everyone,' and a lot of people get fooled by those."

Stress questions: "Why would we hire you? You have no experience."
Stress questions intentionally put the candidate in a stressful situation. The objective of these questions is to learn how the candidate reacts to stressful confrontation, which can be an important success factor for people like police officers and customer service representatives. Asking a question like this, however, can come at the expense of bad rapport. "If that was one of the success factors, being able to tolerate interpersonal confrontation, I would prefer to go after examples in their background by using a behavioral question," says Turner, who has been hired to help design interview processes for police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. "I very seldom [ask a stress question]."

Behavioral questions: "Tell me about a time when you initiated a project that resulted in increased productivity?"
The theory behind behavioral interviewing is that past performance is an excellent predictor of future performance. Instead of asking general questions, the interviewer asks for specific examples that demonstrate skills. For instance, instead of asking, "Do you have initiative?" the interviewer would ask for an example of a time when the candidate demonstrated initiative. Most behavioral interview questions start with phrases like "tell me about a time" or an adverb such as what, where, why, or when. "In actuality you're not really asking someone if they have done something," Whitaker says. "What you're doing is asking them to explain to you how they have done it. So it's very, very difficult to exaggerate or fake this interview."

Another advantage of behavioral interviewing is that because the answers are based on actual past experience, they can be double-checked. This is where the crucial step of checking references comes in. "If you think they're fudging the answer or fabricating the answer, you can always ask former employers that they're saying they showed that behavior at whether it was true or not," Turner says. He also uses references, or as he puts it "the referee," to get the answers to negative questions (examples of when the candidate made a mistake) if the candidate doesn't provide them.

Because they are generally accepted to generate the most accurate responses, most professional recruiters dedicate the majority of each interview to these type of questions.

Sullivan warns, however, that this technique might be difficult when evaluating people who are from other cultures or have language difficulties. Another challenge is that some people just don't think well on their feet. This problem, however, can be somewhat circumvented by sharing the factors that are important for the job with the candidate before the interview.

There are some questions you aren't allowed to ask. These include inquiries about race, weight, religion, citizen status, marital status, children, gender, and disabilities. "If you don't ask all candidates, it's probably some sort of discrimination," Whitaker says. "And if it's not specific to the job, [in employment law what is known as] a bona fide occupational qualification or BFOQ, in other words if it's a question that has nothing to do with job requirements, most likely it's discriminatory."

Interview structure
Experts suggest that, if possible, more than one person interview each candidate. Essentially, their reasoning is that two heads are better than one. "When you have multiple interviewers, you're looking for consistency of the answers, you're looking for trends," Whitaker says. "If different people ask about the same skills, then they can compare."

Each interview should go something like this:

Part one: Introduction
Set the candidate at ease with a couple minutes of small talk. Ask about the weather or traffic (but avoid questions about children or anything else that could be considered discriminatory). Ask some general or factual questions. Explain how the interview process is going to work.

Part two: Behavioral questions
Most of the interview should be spent asking specific behavioral questions based on the criteria you have outlined.

Part three: Wrap-up
Give the candidate the opportunity to ask you questions. Describe what the next steps are in the process and when you plan to follow-up. Thank the candidate for coming in, and walk them to either the lobby or the next interviewer.

Consider adding a test
"You can improve your batting average in selection if you use the interview and supplement it with other selection methods," Turner says. Depending on the job, supplemental methods could include a personality inventory, an aptitude test, a writing test, or having the candidate give you a presentation.

Have a rating system
Inexperienced interviewers might be tempted to use the initial impressions that each interviewee gave them in order to compare candidates against each other. This is dangerous for several reasons. One is what Sullivan refers to as "falling in like." You're looking for someone who can do the job the best, not your next best friend. Failing to rate each criteria for each candidate before comparing candidates can lead to selecting someone who is amiable, but not necessarily right for the job. There's also the risk of picking a candidate who isn't qualified simply because they are the most qualified of those candidates that you interviewed. Without evaluating each skill against a standard, Turner says," you might find yourself being pressured in your mind to pick the best of a bad lot instead of running the whole thing over again."

An effective evaluation rates each candidate in each success factor and compares him or her against a set criteria. For example, you might say that you want a candidate who can type at least 50 words per minute. Other skills might appear harder to quantify, but Whitaker says that it's just a matter of thinking about them differently. For a leadership criterion, for instance, you might set a standard of having managed a certain number of people or a project of a certain complexity.

Don't compare candidates against each other until you have compared them against this standard. After this is done, all the interviewers can come together to compare notes and discuss selection.

By Sarah Kessler
source: msnbc.msn

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