"UniCredit is working on its strategic plan and it is currently evaluating a range of options to best leverage the group’s potential under the proposed new regulatory framework, current market conditions and the general macro-economic scenario," the bank said in a statement.
Clapper, in a speech at the GEOINT conference in Texas, said his office had “handed in our homework assignment” to the Office of Management and Budget, “and it calls for cuts in the double-digit range, with a B (for billion), over 10 years.”In February the DNI had requested $55 billion in appropriations for fiscal year 2012, which started Oct. 1. Congress has not given final approval to any of the regular full-year spending bills and the government is being funded by short-term measures.”We too in the IC (Intelligence Community) are going to contribute to reducing the deficit which itself poses a profound threat to national security,” Clapper said.The DNI oversees 17 intelligence agencies and only publicly releases an aggregate budget figure for intelligence programs without a breakdown for the different agencies.Clapper did not give a precise percentage figure for the proposed cuts. Because of that and the secretive nature of the intelligence budget, it was unclear how much total savings over 10 years he was promising.He said the budget cuts would mainly focus on efficiencies in information technology but would include cuts in contractors and that he would investigate whether some overseas facilities could be closed.There was “huge potential” for savings in information technology, as about 20-25 percent of the 2012 budget request was in that area. He said it would mean making use of technological advances such as in cloud computing.The goal over the 10-year period would be to accomplish half of the needed savings through information technology efficiencies, Clapper said.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders to free up cash for banks to make more loans. The two companies then repackage the loans for sale to investors as securities and charge fees to guarantee the debt.Under the private-sector risk-sharing idea, they would begin to issue some bonds without a federal guarantee.Investors in those securities would receive a higher return to compensate them for the greater risk of losses, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the possibility on Friday.The idea is just in the concept stage. The administration could consider a variety of ways to get investors to take on more credit risk, one source said.The administration and housing regulators are eyeing the possibility of using derivatives or relying on greater mortgage insurance coverage for the loans underlying the bonds to spur private-sector interest, according to the sources.Any final plan on investor risk sharing would require the approval of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The Obama administration would like to begin testing ideas to bring in greater private-sector involvement as early as next year, the sources said.The approach under consideration would reduce the long-term risk exposure of Fannie and Freddie. Together with the Federal Housing Administration, the companies now fund roughly 90 percent of all new U.S. mortgages.FHFA’s acting director, Edward DeMarco, said in a speech last month that his agency is considering various alternatives to attract private investors to the market through different types of risk-sharing structures.
NEW YORK Oct 13 (Reuters) - The chief executive of the world’s largest money manager said Thursday he welcomed the anti-Wall Street protests spreading around the country, saying they would help add balance to the debate on America’s future.”I believe we should not turn our backs on these protests,” said BlackRock Inc Chief Executive Laurence Fink at the Financial Times’ View from the Top conference in New York.”Maybe we will get some balance,” he added, noting that it would be helpful to have both right-leaning Tea Party members and the more left-leaning Wall Street protesters contribute to the national debate on economic issues.BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager with more than $3 trillion worth of assets under management.The Occupy Wall Street movement has sparked nationwide protests in more than 1,400 cities, according to Occupy Together, which has become an online hub for protest activity.Protesters are upset that the billions of dollars in bank bailouts doled out during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.The jobless rate has been at or above 9 percent since March and roughly 45 percent of the 14 million Americans without jobs have been unemployed for six months or more.Earlier on Thursday, Steven Rattner, a former adviser to the U.S. treasury secretary who led efforts to overhaul the U.S. auto industry, said healthy profits for U.S. companies have not trickled down to workers or the broader economy.Fink said having multiple voices involved in the debate is important, as the country faces serious challenges that will not soon fade away.”The two real engines of the economy over the last 10 to 20 years were consumer (spending) and housing,” he said, “and I don’t think those are going to come back any time soon.”Fink said it could take two to three years before those sectors recover. While he said the Federal Reserve has not been given enough credit for stepping in to stabilize the economy, he said the country now needs clarity and leadership from lawmakers.Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate defeated President Barack Obama’s $447 billion job-creation package, suggesting Washington is too paralyzed to take major steps to spur hiring before the 2012 elections.”We need to find our footing. It’s so much about leadership and clarity and we just haven’t found our footing as a country,” Fink said.He said the current sense of malaise infecting the country reminded him of the 1970s when the United States faced high unemployment and inflation.”We were really pessimistic about who we were in the 70s, but we showed resiliency many years ago. We should have the same capacity,” he said.But with jobs scarce, Fink warned that overly aggressive regulation of the financial industry could eventually drive firms in the United States as well as Britain and Europe to less costly bases in Singapore and Hong Kong.If firms find “that the cost of doing business in the UK, Europe and the U.S. rises, you’re going to see movement of people and trading activity” to other countries, Fink said.
The United States, Europe and Australia have said freeing an estimated 2,100 political prisoners in Myanmar is essential to even considering lifting sanctions that have crippled the pariah state and, over years, driven it closer to China.”We’re encouraged by the steps we see the government taking … we’re going to take them at their word,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Reuters, although she added it was premature to predict how Washington might respond.”But we want to see actions. And if they are going to release political prisoners that would be a very positive sign.”Myanmar state television said on Tuesday 6,359 prisoners would be freed on the Thadingyut full moon festival on Wednesday, but did not say if they would include political detainees.Previous general amnesties have included only a token number of political prisoners but there may be more reason for optimism this time as Myanmar’s government seeks to distance itself from China and makes overtures to the West.The army nominally handed over power in March to civilians after elections in November, a process ridiculed at the time as a sham to cement authoritarian rule behind a democratic facade.But President Thein Sein, a retired general but the first civilian head of state in half a century, has initiated overtures including calls for peace with ethnic minority guerrillas, some tolerance of criticism and more communication with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released last year from 15 years of house arrest.One member of parliament who attended a meeting on Friday in the capital, Naypyitaw, told Reuters the release of political prisoners could come “in a few days.” He said that was the message given by Shwe Mann, the lower house speaker.And the new national human rights commission called on the president in an open letter published in state media on Tuesday to free prisoners who did not pose “a threat to the stability of state and public tranquility.”PRESSURE TO OPEN UPThe open letter marks a significant shift in the former British colony, also known as Burma, where authorities have long refused to recognize the existence of political prisoners, usually dismissing such detainees as common criminals.The government has faced pressure for change on multiple fronts - from the wildly popular Suu Kyi to the need to find alternatives to China in the face of popular resentment of its influence, to growing frustration in Southeast Asia over Myanmar’s isolation as the region approaches an EU-style Asian community in 2015.Diplomats say other factors play into Myanmar’s desire to open up, include a need for technical assistance from the World Bank and other multilateral institutions which cut off ties years ago in response to rights abuses.Nestled strategically between powerhouses India and China, Myanmar has been one of the world’s most difficult destinations for investors, restricted by sanctions, blighted by half a century of oppressive military rule and starved of capital despite rich natural resources, from gems to timber to oil.The country’s infrastructure is in shambles and its economy has few sources of growth beyond investment from China and Thailand. About 30 percent of the 50 million people live in poverty, according to U.N. data.Some analysts say Myanmar also wants to show the United States that it is independent of China.Last week, the government suspended a $3.6 billion, Chinese-led dam project, a victory for supporters of Suu Kyi and a sign the country was willing to yield to popular resentment over China’s growing influence.These moves have stoked hopes the new parliament will slowly prise open the country that just over 50 years ago was one of Southeast Asia’s wealthiest as the world’s biggest rice exporter and a major energy producer.In Tokyo, a foreign ministry official said Japan had resumed some aid to Myanmar in June after the release of Suu Kyi and other signs of reform.”We may continue with this stance if there are more releases of political prisoners,” the official said. “Work still needs to be done in terms of democracy but we think they are moving in the right direction.”But it remains unclear whether all political prisoners would be released at once, or indeed how many would be freed.Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, said he had not heard whether political detainees would be freed. Families of prisoners also had not been told.”We are still trying to find out,” said Ma Nyein, sister-in-law of Zar Ga Nar, a jailed comedian and government critic.