Goldman to settle on trade
Goldman Sachs Group Inc is in settlement talks with the US government over an US$8.3 billion position that one of the investment bank’s traders had concealed five years ago, according to a published report. The Financial Times said a settlement with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates US futures and options markets, is expected in the coming weeks, citing two sources familiar with the plans. Goldman declined to comment and the commission could not be reached for comment. The planned settlement follows Thursday’s announcement from the regulator that accused ex-Goldman trader Matthew Marshall Taylor of hiding a large position in S&P 500 e-mini futures contracts. Taylor has denied the accusations, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Tokyo to help Central Asia
The government pledged on Saturday to launch projects worth US$700 million in Central Asia to help the resource-rich region promote trade, energy saving and regional cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan. The commitment followed a meeting in Tokyo between foreign ministers and five Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. “We had frank discussions to help build a stronger, richer and more open Central Asia,” Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters after the meeting of the fourth edition of the “Central Asia plus Japan dialogue,” which started in Kazakhstan in 2004. According to a joint statement, the projects will cover five areas — trade investment, environment and energy saving, narrowing the wealth gap, regional cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan and cooperation in disaster prevention.
PM vows economic reforms
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the economic “gloom and doom” clouding the country in recent years has been dispelled and that he is determined to push ahead with further reforms. In a speech on Saturday evening in Mumbai, Singh said that in 2006, 10 percent annual growth looked “eminently achievable” and “the sense of optimism was all pervading.” However, he admitted that since then, exports have shrunk and the fiscal deficit has gone up. “Growth decelerated to 6.5 percent last year and may be only around 6 percent in the current year,” he said at a corporate function organized by the Economic Times. “This has dampened investor sentiment. Doubts are being raised in some quarters about the India growth story going astray.” Singh vowed that a raft of reforms announced in September would revive the economy and attract foreign investment, with more policy changes in the pipeline.
Budapest to take local debt
The central government, which plans to take over most of the debt accumulated by local governments, would be considered to be in default if the state decided against paying back the loans in full, MTI reported Prime Minister Viktor Orban as saying. It’s “premature” to talk about the nation’s strategy for dealing with municipal debt since the government has yet to assume the loans, Orban said in an interview. The country is seeking a haircut of between 20 percent and 25 percent on all municipal debt the state is assuming, Magyar Nemzet reported yesterday, citing unidentified sources. The government will take over 612 billion forint (US$2.7 billion) of 983 billion forint in local council debt to avert a breakdown in their operations, Orban said on Oct. 27.