Monthly Archives: September 2013

Port of Rotterdam improves Poland, Norway connections

terminalThe Port of Rotterdam has improved several connections to both Norway and Poland. ERS Railways recently added a new departure on the Szwarzędz-Rotterdam route, increasing the frequency from five to six per week. The train, which carries both containers and trailers, stops directly in Rotterdam at the Europoort ferry terminal as well as at Rail Service Centre Rotterdam.

Samskip Intermodal this week starts a weekly short sea service between Rotterdam and the west coast of Norway, where the ports of Tananger, Bergen and Ålesund are served. Tschudi Lines has included the Norwegian port of Drammen to its ‘Baltic Services’ rotation. Now Tschudi Lines’ container vessel links the Baltic ports in Helsinki, Tallinn and Klaipeda with Drammen. Afterwards the ship goes to Esbjerg, Immingham and Rotterdam.

(PoR, Baltic Transport Journal)

China’s Growing Interest in Central Asia

stratforChinese President Xi Jinping’s tour of four Central Asian countries in early  September highlighted a trend followed closely by Stratfor: China’s  struggle to reduce its exposure to security risks and supply disruptions in the  South and East China seas by exploring new overland sources of and transport  routes for goods, energy and other natural resources.

Over the past fifteen years, the Chinese economy’s extraordinary growth has  turned it into the world’s largest importer of key industrial inputs like coal,  iron ore, copper, nickel and aluminum, as well as the second-largest importer of  crude oil Continue reading

Economic Sentiment rises further in both the euro area and the EU

In September the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) increased by 1.6 points in the euro area (to 96.9) and 2.4 points in the EU (to 100.6). The sharp increase in the EU brought the indicator above its long-term average for the first time since July 2011.

ESI indicator

The Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) conducts regular harmonised surveys for different sectors of the economies in the European Union (EU) and in the applicant countries. They are addressed to representatives of the industry (manufacturing), the services, retail trade and construction sectors, as well as to consumers. These surveys allow comparisons among different countries’ business cycles and have become an indispensable tool for monitoring the evolution of the EU and the euro area economies, as well as monitoring developments in the applicant countries.

From Europa.eu

Russia: Structural Challenges to Growth Become Binding

europebynight3Slowdown in consumption, stalled investment demand, and a continuing weak external environment led to the downward revision of the World Bank’s May growth projection for Russia from 2.3 percent to 1.8 percent in 2013. Despite the observed slowdown, the Russian economy is projected to accelerate to 3.1 percent growth in 2014, says the World Bank’s Russian Economic Report №30. Continue reading

Damen introduces Quick Docking concept

Logo-Damen-ShipyardDamen Shiprepair & Conversion has developed a new innovative product, the ‘Quick Docking/Fuel Saving’ package. This offers owners a fast and low-cost additional docking with the sole aim of reducing fuel consumption in between the five-year statutory survey period.

The first vessel booked under the new concept has docked at Damen Shiprepair Brest (France). It is the capesize bulker ‘Castillo De Catoira’ operated by Spanish company Empresa Naviera Elcano. Damen expects to bring more of its vessels to its ship repair yards. Continue reading

New version European Gateway Services E-GATE App

terminalA new version of the European Gateway Services free E-GATE App now also offers real-time status information about containers on the inland terminals TCT Venlo, MCT Moerdijk, TCT Belgium and DeCeTe Duisburg. The new version of the E-GATE App is especially interesting for road freight, rail and inland shipping operators, forwarding agents and importers. With the App you can easily check on your smartphone or tablet if your own container is present on the inland terminal, so you prevent unnecessary trips and improve everyone’s planning. Other new features of the E-GATE App are service messages and news about current developments regarding European Gateway Services. Continue reading

RSM Leadership Summit 2013

RSM+logo+1jpgIt’s been said that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. But with business confidence low and unemployment high, how can a country stimulate growth and prepare for the future by building the next generation of business? Find out more at the 5th annual RSM Leadership Summit on Friday 4 October 2013. Influential decision makers from multinational companies will share their viewpoints on how the corporate world can best prepare for the upcoming shifts in business, society and politics. Continue reading

Unilever to drive mobile presence in key markets

unilever logoLondon/Rotterdam – Unilever has signed a new deal with mobile marketing company Brandtone, which will enable its brands to use the power of mobile and big data to build long-term one-to-one relationships with consumers, particularly in emerging markets, where mobile is a key tool to reach them – and to do so at scale. India, Indonesia, China and US are to be a focus of Unilever’s new mobile marketing initiatives.

As part of the deal, which was announced at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 event in New York, Unilever will support Brandtone’s expansion into four new markets: India, China, Indonesia, and the US. Unilever will also build on the existing relationship with Brandtone in South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and Turkey. Continue reading

As the Fed Turns 100, Currency Reform Gains Currency

by Ralph Benko

fedWe approach, on December 23rd, the centenary of the Federal Reserve System.  This anniversary has not gone unnoticed.

The nearly million-strong, militantly Jeffersonian, Campaign for Liberty — the classical liberal counterpart to MoveOn.org — is using the occasion to press for an audit of the Fed as championed in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky).

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is calling for a  Congressional commission to study the real world effect of various Fed  policies over its century-long history.  This may be more pragmatical —  yet no less incisive.  Both previous Congressionally-impelled monetary  reforms were impelled by a commission.  The Centennial Monetary  Commission, HR 1176, sponsored by Joint Economic Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), continues to pick up momentum. Continue reading

Boskalis awarded St Petersburg port dredging contract

Khalifa Port,Abu Dhabi, UAERoyal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) has been awarded a contract by CJSC Baltstroy for the dredging and construction of the Bronka Port shipping channel in St Petersburg, Russian Federation. The total value of the contract amounts to approximately EUR 130 million.

The project involves the construction of a 6 kilometer long shipping channel, turning basin and berth pockets for the ne Continue reading

The U.S.-European Relationship, Then and Now

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanI am writing this from Greece, having spent the past week in Europe and having moved among various capitals. Most discussions I’ve had in my travels concern U.S. President Barack Obama’s failure to move decisively against Syria and how Russian President Vladimir Putin outmatched him. Of course, the Syrian intervention had many aspects, and one of the most important ones, which was not fully examined, was what it told us about the state of U.S.-European relations and of relations among European countries. This is perhaps the most important question on the table.

We have spoken of the Russians, but for all the flash in their Syria performance, they are economically and militarily weak — something they would change if they had the means to do so. It is Europe, taken as a whole, that is the competitor for the United States. Its economy is still slightly larger than the United States’, and its military is weak, though unlike Russia this is partly by design. Continue reading

Wearable technology is coming and it is connected

By Leo Beerden

GADGET REPUBLIC Gadgets are gadgets because they are novelties, nice-to-haves, but essentially superfluous. Oh, really? They used to be anyway. But that was before we started carrying them around and trust them with our precious data. So what will happen once we’ll start wearing our gadgets while connecting them? Connected wearables will change things for ever. Again.

Powerful technology is now small. Already miniaturized to the scale of house keys, credit cards, glasses, clothes, or even jewelry, it will soon be ubiquitous in daily life. It will not stop there, as tech will be small enough to put it under our skin. In 2030, some of us may already be fitted with a health monitoring device. 24/7-sensors will be on patrol for an ever increasing number of detectable illnesses. Need more features? Just upgrade the firmware. Your health monitor will now Continue reading

Is Angela Merkel’s victory a pyrrhic one?

By Arnout Nuijt

Angela MerkelYes, Federal Chancellor Mrs Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU alliance won an astounding victory in Germany’s federal elections on Sunday September 22nd and that is exactly her problem now. Her party failed to win an absolute majority in the Bundestag by a narrow margin. Much worse, her preferred coalition partner, the liberal FDP, was soundly defeated and lost two thirds of its voters. This left it with a mere 4,8% of the votes, just below the minimum of 5% required to obtain seats. A disaster for the FDP and a setback for Mrs Merkel, who will now have to negotiate forming a government with either the social-democratic SPD or even the Greens.

The last option seems highly unlikely, as CDU-CSU and Greens have little in common. Nor for that matter is the SPD eager to govern again under these circumstances, given the history of running a grand coalition before 2009 (often referred to as a fighting coalition). It was also an experience that alienated many of the SPD’s voters in the 2009 elections. Though the Continue reading

Rotterdam Import Day

Kvk_logoWould you like to start importing to the Netherlands? Be prepared! On Import Day, organised by the Chamber of Commerce you can find information on what it takes to importing, how to avoid pitfalls and who can help you. Note that the event is freely accessible and takes place at Feijenoord Stadium. More (in Dutch) at the Rotterdam Chamber of Commerce.

Europort 2013 set to innovate maritime world

europort_2011_payoff+datum_CMYKFrom 5 – 8 November 2013, one of the world’s leading maritime events will again take place in the the world port city of Rotterdam. More than 30,000 maritime professionals from over 90 countries will meet to present, discuss and share information on innovative technology and smart solutions to build the most sophisticated ships.

With more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and over 30,000 professional visitors, Europort belongs to the largest maritime exhibitions worldwide. Europort has a strong focus on advanced technology and complex shipbuilding and is the ultimate meeting platform for maritime pioneers. The exhibition and conference program serves the maritime sector in the broadest sense: from sea shipping to offshore, from dredging to fishery, from inland navigation to navy and superyachts. More on Europort 2013.

Mr Eike Batista’s incredible X-factor

By Arnout Nuijt

eikeIn April 2010 I visited the EBX head offices in Rio together with a couple of foreign business reps. They were both seasoned fellows, gentlemen who had been everywhere and seen it all. For reasons of discretion, let’s call them the Accountant and the Banker. We were curious about EBX, the expanding group of companies owned by – what the international press described as – the billionaire businessman Mr Eike Batista. We were not just curious, there was also a certain pressure from local and trade reps, diplomats and others: go talk to Eike!

Mr Batista was building ports, had ventured into mining, energy and recently oil exploration. But the ports wouldn’t not just be ports, they would be Superports. One was planned south of Rio (the Sudeste) and one to the north of the Marvelous City (Açu). The latter was dubbed as Brazil’s future ‘Rotterdam”. So a visit to Mr Batista’s holding company, EBX, and its ports and logistics subsidiary LLX, was sort of inevitable. Continue reading

Rotterdam World Food Festival

worldfoodFive weeks of culinary delights in a brand new festival, the World Food Festival, Rotterdam, from 18 September until 27 October 2013

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about food. ‘Food’ is hotter than ever and Rotterdam is bubbling over with ideas. The World Food Festival presents all things culinary with a twist of Rotterdam from 18 September to 27 October. For over five weeks, restaurants and cafes, food producers, scientists and top chefs see, hear and listen to the delights Rotterdam has to offer. The festival is held at venues throughout the city and port. With Museumpark at the heart of this spicy festival of flavours. Continue reading

Should the King read out the King’s Speech?

publicworksIt was King Willem-Alexander’s first King’s Speech, when he read out the yearly government statement in the historic Knight’s Hall of Dutch Parliament on September 17th. And what a first it was. Though he read it well, King Willem-Alexander was not to be envied. A Kings’ Speech about another 6 billion Euro to be collected from his subjects by the present government, led by Prime Minister Rutte, will never be a winner. The King lent his voice to a widely resented move by a government that – according to many polls – has lost almost complete confidence from the populace.

So why does the King read it out? Well, because traditionally and constitutionally the King (or Queen) is supposed to do so, for whatever government or whatever Prime Minister, whether he likes it or not. Ceremonially, it’s the highlight of the year for the Head of State, speaking to the combined chambers of parliament. Content wise he is the hostage of the acting Continue reading

How a small band of heroes saved the internet and how Hollywood is trying to pirate it again, Part II

By Ralph Benko

Continued from last week.

HollywoodTwo years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations can cope with).  There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it.

The second part of this two-part column reveals an untold part of the story about how they were stopped last time.  And shows how, if not again stopped, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.

The offending legislation was barreling down the track, seemingly — even in the eyes of the big Internet companies — unstoppable.  According to Seamus Kraft, a former Congressional aide intimately involved with stopping the attempted hijacking: Continue reading

German voters say next German chancellor should back efforts to devolve EU powers to member states

europebynight3Open Europe and Open Europe Berlin have published the second part of a poll looking at German voters’ views on Europe ahead of the country’s elections on 22 September. The poll, conducted by YouGov Deutschland, shows that there’s considerable support in Germany for slimming down the EU. Of 13 national and European institutions tested, Germans have the least trust in the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Open Europe Director Mats Persson said: “Though Germany will remain strongly wedded to Europe, once the question of EU powers is boiled down to specific policies, there’s widespread support amongst German public opinion for the return of powers from Brussels to member states, further reinforcing the view that there’s a growing appetite across the continent for less Europe in many areas.” And: “A clear majority of Germans also believe that a British EU exit would be very damaging for Germany and the EU, and therefore want the next Chancellor to actively strive to keep the UK on board, even if France is still seen as Germany’s key ally in Europe.” Check out the key findings. Continue reading

Strategy, Ideology and the Close of the Syrian Crisis

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanIt is said that when famed Austrian diplomat Klemens von Metternich heard of the death of the Turkish ambassador, he said, “I wonder what he meant by that?” True or not, serious or a joke, it points out a problem of diplomacy. In searching for the meaning behind every gesture, diplomats start to regard every action merely as a gesture. In the past month, the president of the United States treated the act of bombing Syria as a gesture intended to convey meaning rather than as a military action intended to achieve some specific end. This is the key to understanding the tale that unfolded over the past month.

When President Barack Obama threatened military action in retaliation for what he claimed was the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, he intended a limited strike that would not destroy the weapons. Destroying them all from the air would require widespread air attacks over an extensive period of time, and would risk releasing the chemicals into the atmosphere. The action also was not intended to destroy Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime. Continue reading

RSM in top five Financial Times Masters in Management ranking

ftmastersThe Financial Times published its 2013 Global Masters in Management ranking. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) again strengthens its position and moves into the top five of this leading global MSc ranking.

 

Master in Management

The 2013 evaluation of RSM’s MSc in International Management programme indicates that RSM is doing well in ‘careers rank’ and ‘value for money’, while aspects such as ‘aims achieved’ and ‘school diversity’ move up and get high praise from the surveyed alumni. RSM is even ranked second for ‘international mobility’. Going into more detail, RSM is ranked 3rd as a top school for international business. Continue reading

Why the German elections are unlikely to fundamentally alter eurozone policy

europebynight3Open Europe has published an in-depth analysis of the German federal elections, to be held on 22 September, as the second part of its three part series covering German sentiment on Europe. Open Europe predicts possible coalition outcomes for the new government, and provide a detailed investigation of German party positions on key aspects of eurozone policy, and outline where we expect movements after the elections. Continue reading

TU Delft, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv-Infra explore Houston storm barrier

texasfloodbarrierExactly five years ago Hurricane Ike caused enormous damage in and around Houston and Galveston in the US state of Texas. With more than $38 billion in damage and over 100 deaths, Ike ranks third in the list of the costliest hurricanes in US history. But it could have been a lot worse. With more than two million inhabitants, Houston is not only the fourth largest city in the United States, it is also the centre of the oil and gas industry. The Port of Houston fulfils a crucial economic role and generates around $178 million in revenues each year. Given the vulnerability of the area, it is a question of when rather than whether the city will again be hit by a major hurricane. This makes good coastal defences essential. The Dutch Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv Infra are exploring possible designs for a storm surge barrier off the coast of Houston. Continue reading

North Sea Jazz 2013: A look back

Relive 2013 or get in the mood for the next edition with this video of the North Sea Jazz Festival 2013.

IFFR presents: Elvis, the Lonely Hunter of Circle Beach

From now on every week a short film can be watched on the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s (IFFR) YouTube channel. The kickoff is with Elvis, the Lonely Hunter of Circle Beach by Matt Hulse. Continue reading

Kokoschka’s portraits at Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum

kokoschkaThe expressive and colourful paintings of the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) are not just the subject of the major autumn exhibition in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The museum and PAN Amsterdam are creating a contextual link between the exhibition in Rotterdam and the art fair in Amsterdam. The exhibition’s guest curator, Beatrice von Bormann, is compiling a tour for PAN Amsterdam (24 November – 1 December) that focuses on the versatility of Kokoschka’s oeuvre.

Along this route, art historian Beatrice von Bormann explains the different disciplines that Kokoschka mastered and used in his work. The tour she is designing at PAN Amsterdam covers paintings and decorative art objects that are for sale at the fair – from old masters to contemporary artists. Von Bormann explains the link between each of the chosen objects and Kokoschka’s work. A map of the route will be available at the entrance to PAN Amsterdam in the RAI exhibition centre. Continue reading

Brazil Weekly – Dilma up in the polls again

brazilianflagThe September 13th Edition of Brazil Weekly is ready for you, with Brazil to protect itself against spying, Brazil’s billionaire’s list, Americans spied on Petrobras, cheaper jet fuel to come, 16% bigger harvest, a new Mercedes factory, the Rondonópolis grain terminal, Wagner Moura in Hollywood, Rio Governor to check out, gold mining in the Amazon, retail sales up again, and will you pay for Brazil Weekly?

TNO helps to make refining more sustainable

logo-TNOThe paint industry wants to become greener. In 2030 at least half of the raw materials in their products must be of bio-based origin, without compromising quality. Paints are currently largely petroleum-based. TNO has been working with paint and printing ink manufacturers (VVVF) and chemical (VNCI) associations to identify the possibilities of realising this goal. Continue reading

TU Delft coordinating European research on self-healing thermal barrier coatings

logo tudResearchers of TU Delft coordinate a large European research project on self-healing thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). These ceramic coatings enhance the gas turbine engine efficiency by allowing higher operation temperatures, saving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions. By using self-healing thermal barrier coatings, small cracks in the coating are repaired, thereby prolonging the lifetime of the coatings by 20-25% and significantly reducing the costs of maintainance. Continue reading

Van Oord orders cable-laying vessel for wind park construction

logo-vanoordVan Oord has ordered a new cable-laying vessel. The ship will be built at Damen Shipyards’ wharf in Romania and will be completed at the end of 2014. The ship is intended for the installation of electricity cables for offshore wind parks. Van Oord is making preparations for the Gemini wind park project which will be constructed 60 kilometres to the north of Schiermonnikoog, one of the Dutch Wadden Islands. The cable-laying vessel will be deployed at that site, among many others. Continue reading

Atlantico Weekly – Marathon Oil sells Angolan stake

The September 13th Edition of Atlantico Weekly is ready for you, with EU-Cape Verde visa deal, Cape Verde’s Best Restaurant, high spending Angolan tourists,Namibe’s airport reopened, South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters, Mozambique’s realistic miners, gas, gas, gas, Beira and Nacala ports news and a Mozambican bond….

Why Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters could become a game changer for South African politics

By Arnout Nuijt

EFF-Logo_WebSouth Africa’s former African National Congress Youth League leader, Julius Malema, last week successfully registered his political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), for the 2014 national elections. Mr Malema promises to provide free and quality education, healthcare and sanitation, as well as redistributing land and nationalising the mines. Although he was expelled from the ruling ANC, Mr Malema is popular, especially with the young and the poor. That is potentially bad news for business and investors, but time will tell if he is able to transform his popularity into real votes next year.

According to the BBC, Mr Malema described the launch of the EFF as “the beginning of [a] real radical, militant and decisive political programme which will lead to real emancipation of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world”. And Continue reading

Erasmus University rises in QS ranking

logoeurErasmus University Rotterdam has risen in the QS World University Ranking. The University is now ranked 92, seven places higher than a year ago.

In 2011 the Erasmus University was still in place 103. In the Faculty Area Social Sciences & Management, Erasmus University rises to 24th place from place 52. In this area, Erasmus University is the best ranked Dutch university. In Life Sciences & Medicine Erasmus University is now placed at 53 (last year 104). Furthermore, the EUR does particularly well in the indicators Employer Reputation and Citations per Faculty.

Erasmus University Rotterdam is the fourth ranked Dutch university. In total there are six Dutch universities in the top 100 QS.

From EUR

Fourth Damen Stan Patrol for Mexican Navy

damenmexicoIn the first week of August the Mexican Navy (Secretaria de Marina) and Damen Shipyards Group signed a contract for a fourth Damen Stan Patrol 4207. The Dutch ship design and shipbuilding company will supply the Mexican Navy with the design and material package with which ASTIMAR 1 (the Mexican Navy yard in Tampico) will build the patrol vessel. In addition, Damen will assist ASTIMAR 1 with technical support in order to optimize the delivery time and quality of the vessel.

The Damen Stan Patrol 4207 is designed to perform patrol duties in coastal areas and the economic exclusive zone. Other clients who Continue reading

How the internet was saved from Being Hijacked: Now Beware SOPA 2.0

By Ralph Benko

HollywoodTwo years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with).  There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.

This two-part column reveals an untold part of the story about how the bad guys were stopped last time.  And, if not stopped again, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.

The perversely named “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) itself may have been the most brazen attempted act of piracy in all recorded history.  Truth in Legislation would have required it to be named the “Ultimate Act of Online Piracy.”  Enactment effectively would have pirated the World Wide Web from a common space and converted it into the private preserve of the Big Entertainment Lobby.

The Plot to steal the Internet was foiled.  It was foiled by an “Irresistible Force” — public opinion, rallied by a twenty-something Freedom Fighter, Aaron Swartz, now dead. Continue reading

OMA appointed to masterplan the Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN), Colombia

Oma bogotaOMA’s New York office has been selected in an international design competition to masterplan 680 acres of mixed use development in Bogotá consisting of government offices, residences, educational facilities, cultural venues and retail. The design was led by partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu.

The Bogotá Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN) is positioned as a new civic center, located at the midpoint of Calle 26 Avenue, the city’s main axis that has symbolically charted its growth from the historic downtown to the airport and the international gateway of Colombia. With a footprint as large as the National Mall in Washington DC, this new city center will serve as the city’s government headquarters, with additional mixed use programs of residential, educational, retail and cultural developments.

Shohei Shigematsu, director of OMA New York, commented, “Our proposal enables CAN to be a lively node, providing a Continue reading

Royal HaskoningDHV terminates its wastewater treatment project in East Jerusalem

logo-rhdhv-largeRoyal HaskoningDHV has today advised the client it has decided to terminate the contract for the Kidron wastewater treatment plant project. The project is in the early stages of the preliminary design phase.

Royal HaskoningDHV carries out its work with the highest regard for integrity and in compliance with international laws and regulations. In the course of the project, and after due consultation with various stakeholders, the company came to understand that future involvement in the project could be in violation of international law.

This has led to the decision of Royal HaskoningDHV to terminate its involvement in the project.

From Royal HaskoningDHV

Syria, America and Putin’s Bluff

By George Friedman

georgefriedmanIn recent weeks I’ve written about U.S. President Barack Obama’s bluff on Syria and the tightrope he is now walking on military intervention. There is another bluff going on that has to be understood, this one from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin is bluffing that Russia has emerged as a major world power. In reality, Russia is merely a regional power, but mainly because its periphery is in shambles. He has tried to project a strength that that he doesn’t have, and he has done it well. For him, Syria poses a problem because the United States is about to call his bluff, and he is not holding strong cards. To understand his game we need to start with the recent G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Putin and Obama held a 20-minute meeting there that appeared to be cold and inconclusive. The United States seems to be committed to some undefined military action in Syria, and the Russians are vehemently opposed. The tensions showcased at the G-20 between Washington and Moscow rekindled memories of the Cold War, a time when Russia was a global power. And that is precisely the mood Putin wanted to create. That’s where Putin’s bluff begins. Continue reading

Why high-quality financial reporting matters

erim_logoRoll back to February 2003: Ahold shares lose 60% of their value in a single day as investors react to news of major accounting irregularities at the company’s overseas subsidiaries. Other high-profile financial scandals such as Enron and Worldcom, Parmalat in Italy or Satyam in India have reverberated around the globe. And in some cases, corporate managers have profited hugely at the expense of their shareholders, who were not privy to what was really going on within the company.

Such events have refocused attention on the importance of the quality of financial reporting. Far tighter systems of disclosure were brought into force in the US post-Enron, with the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Elsewhere regulatory systems have also been strengthened. So are they actually working? And if financial reporting requirements are now stricter, does this translate into more equal information for shareholders? Continue reading