– China speeds Yuan push to make its currency more attractive to global firms.
– BRICS meet and plot a more diversified reserve currency system.
– Global demand is revving up profits at big U.S. manufacturers.
– U.S. and Israel race to come up with a peace plan, while Turkey's president says his country is ready to help.
China Speeds Yuan Push: Change Would Make Currency More Attractive to Global Firms (WSJ)
China is accelerating efforts to push its currency deeper into world markets, racing ahead with a series of moves toward a new financial ecosystem with the yuan at its center….
Eventually, wider use of the yuan outside China could redefine the balance of power in global currency markets, and in the broader economy, as the rest of the world begins trading more yuan-based assets and settling its bills with China in renminbi instead of the U.S. dollar, the global standard since the end of World War II.
Global demand is revving up profits at big U.S. manufacturers (WSJ)
Global demand is revving up profits at big U.S. manufacturers, and investors are jumping on for the ride, shrugging off high oil prices and concerns about Japan.
Manufacturing output, which has bounced back much faster than consumer demand over the past year, grew more than four times as fast in the first quarter as the estimated rate for the overall U.S. economy. A series of surprisingly strong earnings reports this week have underscored that momentum….
The sector's growth is being fueled in part by spending on computers, machinery and other equipment by companies flush with cash. Robust sales of chips used in server systems and other hardware for computer data centers have helped to buoy Intel, which Tuesday reported a 34% jump in quarterly profit.
Mortars pound Misurata as toll mounts: Western Libyan city reels from attack while rebels take control of key crossing along Tunisia border. (Al Jazeera)
Civilians have been caught in the crossfire in Misurata as the city continues to come under intense fire from forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Mortar fire poured on Thursday into the besieged city, the only rebel stronghold in the country's west. "Upto 50 or 60 people… are being injured per day," Mohammed Al Fagieh, chief surgeon at a hospital in Misurata, told Al Jazeera...Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in the weeks of attacks, with at least five civilians left dead after fighting on Wednesday. Among the casualties were Western journalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, both photojournalists, who died in the fighting in Misurata on Wednesday, doctors at a hospital in the city said.
Republican invitation to Israeli leader starts a race for the peace plan. (NYT)
A Republican invitation for Israel’s prime minister,Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress next month is highlighting the tensions between President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu and has kicked off a bizarre diplomatic race over who will be the first to lay out a new proposal to reopen the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks....
“People seem to think that whoever goes first gets the upper hand,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a director at the New America Foundation. Using Mr. Netanyahu’s nickname, he said: “If Bibi went first and didn’t lay out a bold peace plan, it would be harder for Obama to say, actually, despite what you said to Congress and their applause, this is what I think you should do.”
The political gamesmanship between the two men illustrates how the calculation in the Middle East has changed for a variety of reasons, including the political upheaval in the Arab world. But it also shows the lack of trust and what some officials say is personal animosity between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.
BRICS want a more diversified international reserve system, less centered on the dollar.
New eras do not announce themselves with billboards or welcoming brochures. They arrive by way of many disparate events. Last week we witnessed one: the gathering in southern China of leaders from the world’s most dynamic emerging economies –the nations we now call the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The summit in Hainan most persuasively is a determination to use the BRICS' global clout to take some of the intellectual initiative away from the advanced industrial nations.
BRICS expects a more prominent role in multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, a stronger presence in the U.N. Security Council, coordinated regulation of the financial markets, and—note this well—a more diversified international reserve system less centered on the dollar. Any successful effort to develop an internationally accepted basket of reserve currencies—starting with the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights—would have to make officials at the U.S. Treasury nervous about long-term overseas support for American debt. It would, in effect, deprive the Fed of the zero interest rate policy—ZERP in the trade—that is now in place.
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul says Israeli-Palestinian peace is critical:
It will be almost impossible for Israel to deal with the emerging democratic and demographic currents in the absence of a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. Turkey, conscious of its own responsibility, stands ready to help.
Rami Khouri warns of the wrath of the rural Arab poor:
On average, 40 percent of the Arab world’s population is rural, and for decades has been declining relative to the urban population. Yet the combination of feeling stuck in poverty and being unable to do anything about this in the face of the power monopolies in the big cities is one of the factors that has clearly motivated millions of poor, marginalized and often rural Arabs to revolt in recent months.