Money Daily Brief: Trade walls rising among G20
– Updated 2:33 p.m. EDT (6:33 UTC)
•Broken promises: The US-China trade spat over tire tariffs is just the tip of the iceberg, according to a new report. G20 countries have broken antiprotectionist pledges once every three days since making them last November. Russia has raised tariffs across the board and Japan is revising sanitation rules in ways that will restrict food imports. The trend raises more questions about the effectiveness of the G20 meetings, which France has threatened to walk out of next week over separate concerns about bank bonuses.
•Better signs for US: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the recession is "very likely over," although the economy would feel weak for some time. Separately, retail sales soared 2.7 percent in August, boosted mostly by the "cash for clunkers" program but also by unexpected growth in department and clothing stores. Producer prices rose 1.7 percent, creating some concern about future inflation.
•Yen falls: Asian stocks were steady and the Japanese currency fell against the dollar for a second day, slightly relieving worries about an upward swing hurting recovery efforts. Separately, Nikkei English News reported that Japan's incoming prime minister has decided to nominate Hirohisa Fujii as finance minister, whose experience reassured investors although some worried he'd have little clout in the new inexperience government.
•Zune HD launch: Microsoft's new Zune HD, which launches Tuesday, may encounter tough competition with the new iPod nano announced last week in terms of price, but integration could be its hook. High-definition movies can be downloaded to the device and fed through to TVs.
•In my backyard: South Korea's embattled Ssangyong Motor Co submitted its survival plan to a Seoul court. The carmaker hopes to dig out of piles of debt by offering debt-for-equity to creditors and cutting stakes held by China's SAIC, its chief investor, and other shareholders.
-- Ben Hancock is a Monitor contributor based in Seoul. For a look at the US economy a year after the start of the global financial crisis, click on A year after Lehman collapse, signs US recovery has begun.