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World View: March 6, 2012

World View: March 6, 2012

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Merkel and other European leaders conspire to get Sarkozy reelected
  • Netanyahu and Obama have ‘somber’ and ‘businesslike’ White House meeting
  • Hizbollah provides only lukewarm support for Syria’s al-Assad
  • Private Greek investors’ acceptance of ‘voluntary’ 75% haircut in doubt
  • Major banks agree to participate in Greece’s bond swap
  • Dalai Lama visit emphasizes Mongolia’s return to Buddhism from secularism
  • U.S. military will fund offensive cyber warfare capabilities

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with other conservative European leaders to help France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy in the French election campaign, by spurning his Socialist challenger François Hollande. Leading conservative governments in the EU — those in Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — have agreed not to receive Sarkozy’s opponent during the campaign. But despite Merkel’s open support of Sarkozy, the latter still trails Hollande in opinion polls, six weeks ahead of the presidential election. Spiegel

Netanyahu and Obama have ‘somber’ and ‘businesslike’ White House meeting

Meeting in the Oval Office on Monday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama apparently avoided the touchy subjects that had caused an open split at last year’s meeting: the 1967 borders, and the West Bank settlements. Instead, they focused on preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, an issue on which they agree in principle. After the meeting, American officials said that Netanyahu indirectly conveyed the message that Israel has not yet decided whether or not to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities — a message that eminently believable. Obama, on the other hand, appears to have done an about-face at least on his rhetoric, now giving full-throated support to Israel whereas, in the past, his rhetoric implied that he was taking the side of the Palestinians. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Iran is in a generational awakening era, making an unprovoked attack by them almost impossible. On the other hand, Israel is in a generational crisis era, so a panicked attack on Iran is a possibility, but is unlikely without American cooperation. Ynet

Hizbollah provides only lukewarm support for Syria’s al-Assad

Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad supposedly has two major allies in the Mideast — Iran and the Lebanon-based terror group Hizbollah. In fact, Hizbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has given fiery speeches supporting al-Assad and condemning the Syrian opposition. However, what al-Assad really wanted was for Hizbollah to open up a battlefront with Israel, so that worldwide public opinion would be diverted from his policy of treating his own innocent Arab civilians as cockroaches to be exterminated. Nasrallah’s speeches and threats are nothing more than a cover for its unwillingness or inability to do as al-Assad wishes. Al-Arabiya

Private Greek investors’ acceptance of ‘voluntary’ 75% haircut in doubt

Despite assurances from grinning European politicians, there remains a significant doubt that Greece will succeed in completing the “voluntary” bond swap that will cause private investors to lose 75% of their investments. The deadline is Thursday, and officials are out trying to convince private investors to buy in, but the bond swap has gotten off to a slow start, with even Greek investors showing reluctance to sign up quickly. Officials have said that they expect 90% buy-in, but that goal seems a long way off. Greece must get 75% of holders to participate to avoid forcing the deal on holdouts through so-called “collective action clauses” (CACs) which were inserted retroactively into Greek bonds by the government last week. If less than 66% participate, even the CACs would become invalid, scuppering the entire deal. In that case, a disorderly Greek bankruptcy becomes a possibility, unless the Germans simply agree to a full bailout anyway. Invoking the CACs would trigger credit default swap (CDS) insurance policies, and it is unknown who the insurers are and how much they would have to pay. Financial Times

Major banks agree to participate in Greece’s bond swap

The 12 members of the steering committee representing banks, asset managers, hedge funds and insurers during the negotiations with Greece are said to intend to participate in the bond swap voluntarily. The committee members are: Allianz, Alpha Bank, AXA, BNP Paribas, CNP Assurances, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Eurobank, Greylock Capital Management, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo and the National Bank of Greece. According to the bizarre statement:

“Neither the steering committee nor any of its members makes any recommendation or offers any advice to any other holder of PSI [private sector investor] eligible debt. Each such holder must make their own decision whether or not to participate in those offers based on their own particular interests and on the advice and assistance of their own advisers.”

It’s thought they hold about 90 billion euros in Greek bonds, or about 43% of the holdings eligible to participate in the bond swap. European officials say that they hope to achieve 90% participation. It’s very hard for me to understand why any hedge fund manager, especially one who’s purchased CDS protection, should ever voluntarily agree to the bond swap, especially since the “punishment” for not agreeing is to be forced to agree anyway. Kathimerini

Dalai Lama visit emphasizes Mongolia’s return to Buddhism from secularism

The Dalai Lama’s November visit to Mongolia has generated a harsh negative reaction from China, who see it as part of the Dalai Lama’s campaign for Tibetan independence. After declaring independence from China in 1924, the People’s Republic of Mongolia remained embroiled in rivalries between Russia and China, and so maintained its communist identity, giving up its Buddhist identity for secularism. Thus, Javzandamba Hutagt, the 9th Bogd (spiritual leader of Mongolian Buddhists), born in Tibet in 1932, was barred from traveling to Mongolia until the end of Mongolia’s communist era in 1990, as the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then, Mongolia has been increasingly turning from secularism back to its Buddhist roots, and the Dalai Lama has played an active part, much to the consternation of the Chinese. In particular, the Dalai Lama hopes to defeat China’s attempt to name his successor, by declaring that the next Dalai Lama will be born on Mongolian soil. Jamestown

U.S. military will fund offensive cyber warfare capabilities

Cyber warfare is usually thought of as defending against cyber attacks from other countries, especially China. But now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will increasingly fund research on offensive cyber capabilities. A provision of the fiscal 2012 national defense authorization act says the military may conduct offensive cyberspace operations subject to the same principles the Defense Department uses for kinetic operations, including the law of armed conflict, and the War Powers Resolution. Fierce Government IT

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