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Seven European banks fail financial stress test

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

Government leaders and the IMF on Saturday hailed stress tests on European banks which failed seven of the 91 institutions checked, but markets remained nervous about the credibility of the exams.

German state-owned lender Hypo Real Estate, five regional savings banks in Spain and ATEBank of Greece failed the test of whether they could resist a new financial shock.

The euro fell just after the release of the results but made up the lost ground. US stocks also ended slightly higher but European governments face a nervous wait for markets to reopen Monday to get the full global reaction.

German state-owned lender Hypo Real Estate, five regional savings banks in Spain and ATEBank of Greece failed the test of whether they could resist a new financial shock. All have been ordered to recapitalise or take state aid.

The Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS), which carried out the tests, said the seven banks would need about 3.5 billion euros (4.4 billion dollars).

The stress tests were intended to reassure markets over the health of the European banking system and political leaders and the head of the International Monetary Fund were quick to praise the tests and the results.

Many experts and economists were sceptical though.

The European Union’s Belgian presidency said: “The aggregate results of the tests show a high degree of resilience in the EU banking sector as a whole, reflecting the efforts undertaken over the last years by the banks and some governments to restore confidence in the European banking sector.”

Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders, speaking for the EU, told AFP the results were “positive because we have been transparent and the tests were quite strict.”

Spain’s Finance Minister Elena Salgado insisted the results were “satisfactory” despite the failure of the five savings banks.

“The Spanish financial system has overcome the financial crisis very well,” she declared.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the tests were “a major undertaking and represent an important step toward improving transparency and bolstering market confidence.”

“The publication of the results and the actions that have been announced to address bank capital deficiencies promise to significantly strengthen the European financial system,” he added.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the EU “has made a significant effort to increase disclosure on the conditions of individual European financial institutions and enhance market stability.”

Some analysts however said the checks failed to shed much light on the real state of the banking sector.

The report spared all banks examined in debt-laden Portugal. Greece, which sparked fears for the stability of the entire eurozone and was rescued by an EU and IMF bailout, also got off lightly with just one bank failing.

Another focus of concern, Ireland, saw its banks also pass the CEBS capital ratio test, as did Italy. French and British banks likewise emerged with pass grades.

Neil MacKinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London, said it “looks like a whitewash and the initial reaction is one of scepticism on the part of the markets.”

ING bank analyst Chris Turner said the CEBS announcement “does not appear to have uncovered any ‘skeletons in the closet’,” but added: “Whether it goes far enough remains to be seen.”

Vitor Constancio, vice-president of the European Central Bank and a CEBS member, insisted the stress tests were “a substantial and severe test, both in macroeconomic terms and in financial terms.”

The tests measured the banks so-called Tier One core capital and measured it against outstanding assets, such as loans. A key test was the effect a government debt crisis would have on balance sheets which hold large amounts of government bonds.

Banks must maintain a minimum ratio of 6.0 percent. The CEBS calculated the seven risk banks would see this ratio fall below six percent.

The CEBS estimated by the standard of its test that the total potential damage to balance sheets at the 91 banks — which account for 65 percent of the European banking market — would be 566 billion euros (727 billion dollars) over two years if certain tough conditions hit.

If markets judge the tests too weak, analysts have warned the result could be to undermine or even negate the exercise.

Britain’s influential Financial Times newspaper highlighted the nervousness in a commentary on Saturday and said the European exercise was “neither uniform, transparent or stressful enough, but it is a good step forward if treated with caution.”


Source: SGGP

‘Star schools’ fail normal kids

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

‘Star schools’ fail normal kids

QĐND – Monday, June 21, 2010, 22:18 (GMT+7)

In big cities, parents dream of being able to enroll their children in prestigious public schools. However, many of them have learned that often enough, prestige is not the same thing as excellence, according to Dan Tri, a newspaper that specializes in covering the education sector.

Mai’s son is a first grader in a prestigious public school in Da Nang City.  She was surprised to learn that there are 55 students in the boy’s class. “With such a high number of students, I wonder if the teachers have enough time to take care of all of them,” she asks.

Because the schools that are considered ‘star schools’ are so popular, small (20 to 30 student) classes are just . . . a dream.

In Hanoi, Nguyen Du and Thang Long primary schools are well known.  However, like many other ‘star schools,’ Nguyen Du and Thang Long seem overcrowded.  Local residents regularly see hundreds of students walking home at break time to take a nap.  It is because the schools do not have enough seats for all students to take a rest

Students of the Thang Long Primary School, for example, are now spread over four buildings on Ngo Tram, Hang Bong, Nguyen Quang Bich and Ly Thai To streets.  Meanwhile, students of the Nguyen Du-Trung Vuong School cannot play at break time because there is no playing field.

Students of many ‘star schools’ learn in cramped classrooms, which, it turns out, are not classrooms at all, but just rooms rented by local homeowners.  Many parents are concerned that their children have to learn in such bad conditions. However, they still want their children to study at these schools.  They believe that their children will get the best education there, where the best teachers work.

What is taught at ‘star’ schools?

Many parents complain that their children have to study too hard at ‘star schools.’

Dao Nga, a military physician in Hai Duong City, says that students have to learn very intensively at the top schools. Her son is burdened with a lot of homework every day. Students not only to do all the exercises shown in textbooks, but they are also assigned more difficult exercises as well

As Nga’s son is good at mathematics, the boy was selected for the school’s competition team. The boy trains regularly for the competitions for excellent students at district and city’s levels.  “After every competition, he is worn out and has lost weight,” Nga complains.

Minh, in Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi, says that she never imagined that students of ‘star schools’ would have to study so hard.  She relates that a year ago, she felt fortunate to bring her daughter to a class taught by a famous teacher, a person who’d been awarded the title ‘excellent teacher at the national level.’

Minh said that there are 20 students more than in a normal class at her daughter’s school, because every parent wants their child to study with ‘excellent’ teachers.

Before Minh’s daughter entered the first grade, she could spell simple words.  Even so, she could not catch up with her classmates, who could read and calculate already. The girl has become afraid of learning and she does not want to go to school.

After such experiences, many parents decide to transfer their children to normal schools, because they realize that prestigious schools are not always the best schools for their children.

Source: Dan tri

Source: QDND

Public housing policies fail to attract investors

In Vietnam Society on December 3, 2009 at 10:41 am

Experts say that Vietnam’s lack of affordable public housing is in part the result of poor government policies, which discourages most investors.

Low-cost houses in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City. The city is expected to complete 10 housing projects providing 840 apartments and lay 1,500 foundations next year. (Photo: Duc Tri)

Accommodation for low-income residents, government workers and students is dreadfully inadequate, especially in Vietnam’s big cities. But while demand for low-cost housing increases by the day, the number of new housing projects has failed to keep pace.

A report by Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Construction says there are 130,000 government workers and armed forces’ officers, among which 20,000 lack accommodation.

In the first nine months of the year, however, the city built just 1,032 apartments, far from its target of 25,000 units to be constructed by the end of 2010.

Nearly one third of public services workers nationwide lack accommodation and only 20 percent of industrial zone workers have affordable housing. The remaining 80 percent is forced to seek out private accommodation at higher costs.

There are 320,000 university students in HCM City, but the schools can only provide housing for 40,000.

The city’s plan to build 70,000 more units for students by 2011 will only meet 20 percent of the demand.

HCM City is expected to complete 10 housing projects providing 840 apartments and lay 1,500 foundations next year, under the new Housing Law decree issued in 2006.

The city has now put aside 126 hectares to build public housing and approved 25 projects to build 6,600 residences. To date, however, only three projects have begun work and are expected to be complete in 2010.

Developers say that the public housing problem is partially the result of poor policies, which fail to offer good returns to investors.

Because renters pay so little, few businesses are willing to invest in affordable housing. Experts say any returns would not be seen for at least a couple of decades.

To fund the projects, capital must then be taken from the State budget.

It is also difficult for housing developers to obtain long-term, low-interest loans because financial resources for such projects are limited.

In addition, due to a term in the Housing Law that rules public housing can only be 5-6 floors high, few investors are eager to take on such small-scale projects.

In Dong Nai, a neighboring province of HCM City, authorities have applied for two public housing projects but the Ministry of Construction has refused both.

The province wants to build one project using state budget funds because no investors have come forward. The ministry, meanwhile, has asked the province to call on private companies. The other project was rejected after plans for an 11-floor apartment building were limited to just six as ruled by the Housing Law.

In order to lure investors, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has issued a regulation aiming to loosen control over public housing projects. Included in the new rules are a relaxation of the number of floors, and tax exemptions on land use, VAT, and income from the projects.

The directive also said that local governments would support infrastructure development outside public housing project perimeters.

However, businesses say that the new regulations are not yet clear enough to attract investors.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Russia fail, Slovenia delight in World Cup qualification

In Vietnam Sports on November 20, 2009 at 8:32 am

LJUBLJANA, Nov 19, 2009 (AFP) – Minnows Slovenia will leave for the World Cup in South Africa with clean boots after Prime Minister Borut Pahor was forced to eat his words and get polishing following his country’s play-off victory over Russia.

The Slovenians pulled off a 1-0 win over Russia on Wednesday and qualified on the away goals rule after the aggregate score of 2-2, playing an attacking gameplan that had commentators purring.

Slovenia’s team celebrate after their World Cup 2010 qualifying play-off second leg football match between Slovenia and Russia, in Maribor (AFP photo)

“Irrespective of the shortfall in youth and experience the Slovenian national football team very quickly understood the legality of modern football at the highest level, and played aggressive soccer, which attracts viewers,” said Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik.

“This is no longer a defensive posture waiting for the counterattack.”

The newspaper’s front page headlined with “To Africa with clean shoes”, in reference to Prime Minister Pahor’s promise to the team that he would polish their boots if they won.

Pahor dutifully carried out his task immediately after the game, the paper reported.

“Superb performance in (the Maribor stadium of) Ljudski vrt. South Africa, here we come,” said Slovenian daily Delo.

Former international Branko Oblak, writing in Delo, said Russian coach Gus Hiddink had made the mistake of continuing to pick the wrong players, such as Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin.

“The Russians did not attack us at all. They sought to play with technique which they do not have.”

Slovenia’s sole sports daily Ekipa predicted that “next summer would be a Slovenian summer”.

“Watch out Brazil, Spain and Argentina. South Africa, prepare, Slovenia is coming.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share