All posts by Francisco Marques Pereira

(JN) Timmermans: “Portugal é um exemplo para a Europa”

(JN) O candidato dos socialistas europeus a presidente da Comissão Europeia, o ainda comissário holandês Frans Timmermans, apontou Portugal como um exemplo na Europa, ao falar na Convenção Europeia do PS, que se realizou este sábado em Vila Nova de Gaia.  

“António Costa e o seu governo mostram todos os dias que podem ter um país na Europa mais social”, afirmou, para sublinhar que a recuperação da austeridade não foi feita “à custa dos filhos e netos, nem colocando mais um fardo sobre as costas”.

Segundo Timmermans, que é vice-presidente da Comissão Europeia, “Portugal mostra ao resto da Europa como se pode ser responsável com o dinheiro dos contribuintes”, entre outras coisas criando mais empregos e aumentando o salário mínimo. “António e o seu governo mostraram o caminho”, disse.

Qualificando o primeiro-ministro português como um “líder patriota, aberto ao resto do mundo e que diz ao seu povo que seja aberto, optimista, respeite as diferenças e seja simpático para com os refugiados que não têm para onde ir”, o “spitzenkandidat” (cabeça de lista) socialista apelou a que chegou a altura de “fazer alguma coisa” pela Europa.

“É tempo de pôr fim ao ódio e ao incitamento à violência, de pôr fim à diferença de vencimentos entre homens e mulheres (…), de fazer as grandes multinacionais pagar impostos como todos, de nos comprometermos com uma economia sustentada”, declarou o holandês, que salientou a necessidade de “criar um mundo com mais justiça” e uma estratégia europeia para África, a fim de ajudar este continente agora.

Neste elencar de necessidades, Timmermans referiu ainda que é preciso arranjar casas para os jovens, “que estão desesperados em encontrar uma em todas as grandes cidades europeias”, bem como de dizer “não” a uma nova corrida aos armamentos e às políticas de exclusão, nacionalismo e ódio.

Evocando o que disse o Presidente francês num vídeo apresentado aos participantes da Convenção – que “estas eleições são sobre a alma da Europa” – Timmermans destacou ainda que Portugal tem uma forte mensagem para dizer à Europa, nomeadamente como se pode recuperar de uma terrível crise económica e recuperar o optimismo.

“Estou orgulhoso de estar aqui, de ser um socialista e do que o Partido Socialista conseguiu nestes últimos anos”, concluiu o candidato dos socialistas europeus, que considerou o PS motivo de “inspiração pessoal”.

(ECO) Juros portugueses a 10 anos em mínimos históricos. Caem abaixo dos 1,5%

(ECO) Os juros da dívida soberana nacional aliviam em todas as frentes, com a taxa a 10 anos a atingir nesta sessão os 1,495%. Trata-se da taxa mais baixa de sempre.

Os juros soberanos nacionais recuam em todas as frentes, acompanhando o alívio das referências europeias. A taxa de juro portuguesa a dez anos chegou a recuar até aos 1,495%, o valor mais baixo de sempre.

yield soberana nacional negoceia nos 1,5% no mercado secundário, 1,6 pontos base aquém da última sessão. Mas na manhã desta terça-feira já quebrou em baixa pela primeira vez a fasquia dos 1,5% ao atingir os 1,495%, segundo a Reuters. O alívio das taxas de juro da dívida soberana nacional também chega às diferentes maturidades.

Os juros nacionais acompanham ainda a tendência de alívio que se assiste na dívida soberana alemã. A taxa de juro da dívida germânica a dez anos negoceia nos 0,103%, tendo já recuado até aos 0,092% nesta sessão.

Filipe Silva, diretor da gestão de ativos do Banco Carregosa não identifica uma razão específica para o alívio dos juros nacionais, preferindo dizer que estes estão a “ajustar” e “em linha com as dívidas soberanas europeias”.

“É um movimento que está a ser acompanhado pelos restantes países, sendo que não temos nenhuns motivos fortes que criem risco adicional e os juros acabam por cair”, disse o especialista em dívida ao ECO.IGCP quer 1.250 milhões em dívida de curto prazo Ler Mais

Esta é contudo a sexta sessão seguida em que os juros soberanos nacionais dão sinais de alívio, numa altura em que são várias as casas de investimento a recomendar aos investidores olharem para a dívida portuguesa, num contexto marcado pela instabilidade nos restantes mercados periféricos: Espanha e Itália.

O alívio dos juros nacionais é um sinal positivo depois de no ano passado o movimento de quebra das yields ter ajudado Portugal a conseguir-se financiar ao custo mais baixo de sempre. O rumo dos juros nesta sessão levam também a antecipar um desfecho positivo para o regresso ao mercado do IGCP para emitir dívida, nesta quarta-feira.

A agência responsável pela gestão da dívida pública portuguesa agendou, para esta quarta-feira, dois leilões de bilhetes do Tesouro com prazos a três e nove meses, pretendendo captar até 1.250 milhões de euros de financiamento.

(BBC) The truth about Japanese tempura

(BBC)

When 16th-Century Portuguese came to Japan, they brought a special dish with them. Today, in Japan, it’s called tempura and has been a staple of the country’s cuisine ever since.

In 1543, a Chinese ship with three Portuguese sailors on board was headed to Macau, but was swept off course and ended up on the Japanese island of Tanegashima. Antonio da Mota, Francisco Zeimoto and Antonio Peixoto – the first Europeans to ever step on Japanese soil – were deemed ‘southern barbarians’ by the locals because of the direction from which they came and their ‘unusual’, non-Japanese features. The Japanese were in the middle of a civil war and eventually began trading with the Portuguese, in general, for guns. And thus began a Portuguese trading post in Japan, starting with firearms and then other items such as soap, tobacco, wool and even recipes.

The Portuguese remained in Japan until 1639, when they were banished because the ruling shogun Iemitsu believed Christianity was a threat to Japanese society. As their ships sailed away for the final time, the Portuguese left an indelible mark on the island: a battered and fried green bean recipe called peixinhos da horta. Today, in Japan, it’s called tempura and has been a staple of the country’s cuisine ever since.Y

No-one knows the exact origins of peixinhos da horta. “We know it existed in 1543,” said Michelin-starred chef Jose Avillez when I met up with him at Cantinho de Avillez, one of his acclaimed Lisbon restaurants. “But before that, it’s anyone’s guess.”

Green beans, it turns out, changed food history.

However, peixinhos da horta was only one of many dishes the Portuguese inspired around the world. In fact, Portuguese cuisine, still heavily overshadowed by the cuisines of Italy, Spain and France, may be the most influential cuisine on the planet.

Portuguese cuisine may be the most influential cuisine on the planet

When the Portuguese turned up in Goa, India, where they stayed until 1961, they cooked a garlicky, wine-spiked pork dish called carne de vinha d’alhos, which was adopted by locals to become vindaloo, one of the most popular Indian dishes today. In Malaysia, several staples, including the spicy stew debal, hail from Portuguese traders of centuries past. Egg tarts in Macao and southern China are direct descendants to the egg tarts found in Lisbon bakeries. And Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, a stew with beans and pork, has its origins in the northern Portuguese region of Minho; today, you can find variations of it everywhere the Portuguese have sailed, including Goa, Mozambique, Angola, Macau and Cape Verde.

Peixinhos da horta were often eaten during Lent or Ember days (the word ‘tempura’ comes from the Latin word tempora, a term referring to these times of fasting), when the church dictated that Catholics go meatless. “So the way around that,” Avillez said, “[was] to batter and fry a vegetable, like the green bean. And just to add to it, we called it peixinhos do horta, little fish of the garden. If you can’t eat meat for that period of time, this was a good replacement.”

The word ‘tempura’ comes from the Latin word tempora

And it had other functions too. “When the poor couldn’t afford fish, they would eat these fried green beans as a substitute,” Avillez said. And sailors would fry the beans to preserve them during long journeys, much in the way humans have been curing and salting meat for preservation purposes for centuries.

Perhaps not constricted by tradition, the Japanese lightened the batter and changed up the fillings. Today, everything from shrimp to sweet potatoes to shitake mushrooms is turned into tempura.

“The Japanese inherited the dish from us and they made it better,” Avillez said.

Avillez said Japanese people sometimes turn up at his restaurants and see the fried bean dish and say, “Hey, Portuguese cuisine is influenced by Japanese cuisine.” He added, “And that’s when I say, ‘No, in this case it’s the other way around’.” A Japanese-born sous chef at Avillez’s two-Michelin-starred Lisbon restaurant, Belcanto, even chose to train in Portugal instead of France because he recognised the influence on his home cuisine, particularly in peixinhos da horta.

Avillez said his one complaint about the dish, in general, has always been that the beans are often fried in the morning and so they go cold and limp by the time they get to the table later that day. He remedies this by not only cooking them on demand, but by adding a starch called nutrios that keeps them crispy. After the bean is blanched, it gets rolled in the batter of wheat flour, egg, milk, and nutrios and then flash fried.

Other chefs I talked to in Portugal had their own recipes for the fried green beans, but they didn’t deviate much. “It’s a very simple dish,” said chef Olivier da Costa, when I met up with him at his Lisbon restaurant Olivier Avenida, located in the Avani Avenida Liberdade hotel. “I use a batter of flour, milk, eggs, salt, pepper and beer,” he said. “Beer?” I asked. “Yes! It ferments the batter and the beer foam gives it a better taste.” He didn’t have the dish on his menu at the time so I had to take his word for it.

One reason why Portuguese love peixinhos da horta so much, da Costa said, was nostalgia. “We all eat it as children and thus have fond memories of it. These days it’s been making a comeback, not just because people are eating more vegetarian food, but because a younger generation are taking more interest in our local cuisine and because they want to be taken back to that simpler time.”

Avillez is taking this newfound interest in super traditional Portuguese cuisine to a new level. Along with his Japanese-born sous chef, he plans to temporarily offer a tasting menu called ‘1543’, the year the Portuguese first showed up in Japan, offering peixinhos da horta and other Portuguese dishes that have inspired Japanese cuisine. Alongside the Portuguese dishes, he plans to serve the Japanese versions that evolved from the Portuguese presence in Japan four-and-a-half centuries ago.

Each bite was like taking a first bite

Back at Cantinho de Avillez, an order of peixinhos da horta appeared in front of me. They were rigid like pencils with a lumpy texture and a yellow-ish hue. Each bite was like taking a first bite: crisp, light and super flavourful, the crunchy texture of the batter complimenting the sturdy feel of the bean. The dish has been one of the only consistent items on the menu at Cantinho de Avillez, which opened in 2012.

“I can’t take it off,” Avillez said. “My regulars would be enraged.”

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(BBC) Seven MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

(BBC)

Media captionSeven MPs resign from Labour party over Brexit and anti-Semitism

Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

Ms Berger said Labour had become institutionally anti-Semitic and she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to stay.

Mr Corbyn said he was “disappointed” the MPs had felt unable to continue working for the policies that “inspired millions” at the 2017 election.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the “honourable thing for them to do” would be to stand down and fight by-elections.

He said Labour was “a family”, adding: “We shouldn’t splinter in this way.

“It is better to remain in the party, fight your corner.”

The MPs, who all back a further EU referendum, are not launching a new political party – they will sit in Parliament as the Independent Group.

Media captionJohn McDonnell: Resigning MPs have ‘responsibility’ to call by-elections

But Chuka Umunna said they had “taken the first step” and urged other Labour MPs – and members of other parties – to join them in “building a new politics”.

“It is time we dumped this country’s old-fashioned politics and created an alternative that does justice to who we are today and gives this country a politics fit for the here and now – the 21st Century,” he said at a launch event in central London.

He said there would be “no merger” with the Liberal Democrats, who have 11 MPs, and the group wanted to “build a new alternative”.

Chris Leslie said the seven would have their first formal meeting “in a few days” time to “assign roles and responsibilities”.

The group rejected comparisons with the SDP – which broke away from the Labour Party in the early 1980s but eventually merged with the Liberal Party – saying it was a different era and they would not be contesting by-elections.

In a founding statement on its website, the group sets out its approach to the economy, public services and security, as well as Brexit, saying its aim was to “pursue policies that are evidence-based, rather than led by ideology”.


Could more MPs defect to new group?

Independent Group launch

By BBC Political Correspondent Iain Watson

After months of debate behind closed doors, seven Labour MPs have gone – each with their own tipping point. For Luciana Berger, anti-Semitism, bullying and intimidation was central; for Chris Leslie “Brexit was the tipping point”.

It was clearly a painful decision for Mike Gapes – emotion etched on his face.

Defections to the Independent Group are likely to increase – but it will need to attract some of those beyond Labour to become a proper “centre party”.

Two more MPs were undecided about whether to be at the launch, one of them was 90% but clearly not 100% there.

And more still may be persuaded to go unless they see a more robust response to anti-Semitism.

But what’s interesting is who wasn’t, as well as who was, on stage.

Strong supporters of the Blair/Brown governments such as Peter Kyle and Ben Bradshaw are staying to fight their corner on Brexit and it’s likely in the short term the numbers who do go will be small.

This is no simple centrists v left, or indeed, ultra left split.

However, the reaction of left-wing activists to today’s drama could be crucial.

If they feel fired up to de-select those who share the politics of the defectors but who have no intention of leaving Labour, the splinter could yet become a more sizeable split.


Each of the seven took turns to explain their personal reasons for quitting the party.

Ms Berger said: “I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation. I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other.”

Chris Leslie said Labour under Mr Corbyn had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left”.

Mike Gapes said: “I am sickened that Labour is now perceived by many as a racist, anti-Semitic party.”

He added that it was “increasingly clear that prominent figures in the Corbyn Labour leadership do not want to stop Brexit”.

Ms Berger initially introduced herself as “the Labour Party MP”, before correcting herself and saying: “I am the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree.”Skip Twitter post by @bbclaurak

Laura Kuenssberg@bbclaurak

Whatever you think of these seven leaving Labour it is clear it’s been a huge decision for them all – you can see it on their faces, no joy in it for them and they know the abuse they will get and are already receiving4,95810:21 AM – Feb 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy2,034 people are talking about thisReport

End of Twitter post by @bbclaurak

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: “I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.

“Labour won people over on a programme for the many not the few – redistributing wealth and power, taking vital resources into public ownership, investing in every region and nation, and tackling climate change.

“The Conservative government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible plan.”

‘Terrible news’

Laura Parker, national coordinator of grassroots Labour campaign Momentum, said the seven MPs wanted to “take us back to the politics of the past” and the “Blair years programme of privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of the banks”.

“They offer no concrete solutions, no new ideas and have no support amongst the public,” she added.

Senior Labour figures, including former leader Ed Miliband and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, expressed their dismay at the split, with Mr Khan saying on Facebook that the seven MPs were friends of his but he would not be joining their new group and it was a “desperately sad day”.Skip Twitter post by @Ed_Miliband

Ed Miliband@Ed_Miliband

I deeply regret the decision of my former colleagues to leave Labour. Labour’s values are still my values and a Labour government is the best hope for the country we need. Labour must and will continue to be a broad church as it has always been.5,59311:10 AM – Feb 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy1,830 people are talking about thisReport

End of Twitter post by @Ed_Miliband

Pro-Brexit Labour MP Graham Stringer accused the seven defectors of being “dishonest” about their motives, telling BBC News it had been “clear for some time” that “their agenda is not to change Labour Party policy” but to “set up a new party and leave”.

Dave Prentis, leader of the Unison trade union, said the split was “terrible news” for working people because “split parties don’t win elections” – a message echoed by GMB leader Tim Roache.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the split was “not unexpected, or unwelcome” and his party was open to “working with like-minded groups and individuals in order to give the people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU”.

Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said the resignations had confirmed that Labour “has become the Jeremy Corbyn Party – failing to take action on everything from tackling anti-Jewish racism to keeping our country safe”.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, whose new Brexit Party launched earlier this year, tweeted: “This moment may not look very exciting but it is the beginning of something bigger in British politics – realignment.”

(BBC) Huawei risk can be managed, say UK cyber-security chiefs

(BBC)

The Huawei logo outside their research facility in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Image captionHuawei has said it is independent and gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes

Any risk posed by involving the Chinese technology giant Huawei in UK telecoms projects can be managed, cyber-security chiefs have determined.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s decision undermines US efforts to persuade its allies to ban the firm from 5G communications networks.

The Chinese government is accused of using Huawei as a proxy so it can spy on rival nations.

But Huawei has said it gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes.

Australia, New Zealand, and the US have already banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their future fifth generation mobile broadband networks, while Canada is reviewing whether the company’s products present a serious security threat.

Most of the UK’s mobile companies – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on developing their 5G networks.

They are awaiting on a government review, due in March or April, that will decide whether they can use Huawei technology.

Huawei in numbers

As first reported by the Financial Times, the conclusion by the National Cyber Security Centre – part of the intelligence agency GCHQ – will feed into the review.

The decision has not yet been made public, but the security agency said in a statement it had “a unique oversight and understanding of Huawei engineering and cyber security”.

Huawei booth
Image captionHuawei has denied that it poses any risk to the UK or any other country

BBC business correspondent Rob Young said the National Cyber Security Centre’s conclusion “will carry weight”, but said the review could still rule against Huawei.

In an interview, Huawei’s cyber security chief John Suffolk told the BBC: “We are probably the most open and transparent organisation in the world. We are probably the most poked and prodded organisation too.”

The former UK chief information officer added: “We don’t say ‘believe us’ we say ‘come and check for yourself’, come and do your own testing and come and do your own verification.

“The more people looking, the more people touching, they can provide their own assurance without listening to what Huawei has to say.”

Presentational grey line

Analysis

Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent

If anybody knows just how Huawei works and the threat it might pose to the UK’s security, it is the National Cyber Security Centre.

This arm of GCHQ has been in charge of an annual examination of the Chinese telecoms giant’s equipment, and expressed concerns in its most recent report – not about secret backdoors, but sloppy cyber-security practices.

The NCSC has also been giving advice to UK mobile operators as they order the equipment for the rollout of their 5G networks later this year.

They feel they have been given the same cautious nod the agency appears to have given the government’s Supply Chain Review: keep Huawei out of the core of your 5G networks, but you are OK to use its equipment at phone masts as part of the mix of suppliers.

Australia and New Zealand have taken a very different view by taking a far harder line against Huawei.

That isn’t because they know something about the Chinese firm which the NCSC has missed.

Their decisions were probably based on an assessment of the political as well as security risk of ignoring the urging from the US to shut Huawei out.

And whatever the NCSC’s advice, similar factors will determine the UK government’s final decision.

Presentational grey line

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is leading the review into the future of the telecoms industry, said its analysis was “ongoing”.

“No decisions have been taken and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” they said in a statement.

Asked whether the findings changed her country’s stance towards Huawei, the prime minister of New Zealand – which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the UK – said her government would conduct its own assessment.

Jacinda Ardern told reporters: “It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information, but we make our own independent decisions.”

Last year, BT confirmed that it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the EE core network that it owns.

The network provides a communication system being developed for the UK’s emergency services.

Fifth-generation mobile broadband is coming to the UK over the next year or so, promising download and browsing speeds 10 to 20 times faster than those 4G networks can offer.

Media captionWill superfast 5G mobile be worth the money?

The US argues Huawei could use malign software updates to spy on those using 5G.

It points to China’s National Intelligence Law passed in 2017 that says organisations must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”.

Critics of Huawei also highlight that its founder Ren Zhengfei was a former engineer in the country’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.

Huawei recently attracted attention when its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested and accused of breaking American sanctions on Iran.

(StraitsTimes) German halt in Saudi arms sales causing serious problems: Airbus

(StraitsTimes)

The halt is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh.
The halt is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh.PHOTO: DPA

PUBLISHEDFEB 16, 2019, 5:23 PM SGTFACEBOOKTWITTEREMAIL

MUNICH/BERLIN (REUTERS) – Germany’s halt in exports to Saudi Arabia is preventing Britain from completing the sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Riyadh, and has delayed potential sales of other weapons such as the A400M military transport, a top Airbus official said on Friday (Feb 15).

Germany in November said it would reject future export licences to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It has not formally banned previously approved deals, which would entitle companies to compensation, but has urged industry to refrain from such shipments for now.

Airbus Defence and Space chief Dirk Hoke told Reuters that uncertainty about the issue had undermined Germany’s credibility, and could threaten future Franco-German defence projects, including a planned Eurodrone that was heading for an initial contract by the end of the year.

“This is a serious problem,” Mr Hoke said in an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We’re facing constraints in many projects, and many problems have been put on ice,” including what he called discussions about a sale of A400M military transports to Saudi Arabia.

Germany accounts for just under 2 per cent of total Saudi arms imports, a small percentage internationally compared with the United States and Britain, but it makes components for other countries’ export contracts. That includes a proposed £10 billion (S$17.5 billion) agreement by Riyadh to buy 48 new Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from Britain.

The deal, in the making for nearly four years, was finalised late last year, but has been held up for months due to the German position, triggering “massive, emotional reactions” from Britain and BAE Systems, Mr Hoke said.

The statement from Maas (above) appeared to reverse a decision to sell artillery systems to Riyadh.

Related Story

Germany questions arms sales to Saudi over Jamal Khashoggi killing

Eurofighter is built by a consortium of four founding countries – Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain – represented by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo .

Mr Hoke said the current situation was difficult to explain to customers since there was no formal embargo. Top Airbus executives had appealed to the Foreign Ministry and the Economy Ministry to allow the Eurofighter deal to proceed, he said.

He said Germany’s politically driven stance could also have negative consequences for future Franco-German projects, including the Eurodrone project.

Germany and France have made progress in recent months on a bilateral agreement, but Berlin is resisting making it legally binding, according to French sources familiar with the matter.

“It will pose lasting damage to the German relationship with France if no serious, long-term solutions can be found,” he said. “Germany is simply viewed as unreliable on this issue at the moment.”

(SCMP) Princess to Prayuth: who’s who in Thai election’s Game of Thrones

(SCMP)

  • As Thailand embraces democracy and heads to the polls, here are the royal family members, army generals and exiled politicians who could influence the vote
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Photo: AFP

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Photo: AFP

KING MAHA VAJIRALONGKORN

Asked in a 1980 BBC interview what being a royal was like, Maha Vajiralongkorn, then 28, said he knew no other life.

“I have been born, from the first second of my life, as a prince,” he said. “It is difficult to say what it’s like to be a fish when you are a fish. Or what it’s like to be a bird when you are a bird.”Today, the king splits his time between Germany – where he lives in relative privacy – and Thailand, where he is accorded near-deity status.

When he took the reins in 2016 he faced questions about his lifestyle, and whether he could fill his father Bhumibol Adulyadej’s shoes.Does King Vajiralongkorn hold all the cards in Thai politics?

Bhumibol was venerated for the stabilising role he played during his record-breaking 70-year reign.SUBSCRIBE TO SCMP TODAY: INTL EDITIONGet updates direct to your inboxSUBMITBy registering for these newsletters you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

Observers say Vajiralongkorn has proved his detractors wrong with his recent moves – including the swift veto of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya’s plan to enter politics.

“Before his father’s death, many predicted that Vajiralongkorn, perceived as having lacked moral authority, could become a weak king,” political observer Pavin Chachavalpongpun wrote last year. “He is quickly proving them wrong.”

Thrice married, Vajiralongkorn is trained to fly a range of aircraft including fighter jets, helicopters and commercial jets. He saw combat in Thailand’s 1970s anti-insurgency campaign.

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya. Photo: Reuters

Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya. Photo: ReutersShare:

PRINCESS UBOLRATANA RAJAKANYA

The eldest of Bhumibol’s four children, Ubolratana was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, while her father was a student there.

Like her law-trained father, Ubolratana excelled in school and earned degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles.

She relinquished her royal titles when she married an American man in the 1970s, but upon divorcing him in the late 1990s – after raising three children in San Diego – Ubolratana returned to Thailand for good in 2001. She was bestowed the title of “Toon Kra Mom”, or daughter of a reigning queen.

Is King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s volunteer army a way to distance himself from Thailand’s military?

The 2000s were highly eventful for the princess: she launched a career as an actress – starring in television dramas including one co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue – but faced tragedy when the 2004 Asian tsunami killed her son, Poom.

Her decision to run as a candidate with the Shinawatra-aligned Thai Raksa Chart party took few observers by surprise, as she had in the past hinted she was aligned with the political bloc’s “red shirt” supporters.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn with his mother Queen Sirikit and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Photo: EPA

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn with his mother Queen Sirikit and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Photo: EPAShare:

QUEEN SIRIKIT

Sirikit Kitiyakara, born to Thai nobility, married Bhumibol in 1950 after meeting him in Paris. Like her husband, she was venerated for her charity work in support of the kingdom’s rural poor.

But in the 2000s, as the stand-off between the Shinawatra bloc and the establishment elite became more pronounced, some in the chattering class questioned – in whispers – whether she was backing the “yellow shirts” behind the scenes. Sirikit is believed to be close to the royal court’s long-term power broker Prem Tinsulanonda. Nowadays she is rarely seen in public. The palace in 2016 said she had suffered an ailment that caused her to have “insufficient blood in the brain”.

Privy Councillor Prem Tinsulanonda. Photo: AFP

Privy Councillor Prem Tinsulanonda. Photo: AFPShare:

Thai party that nominated princess for PM faces dissolution

PREM TINSULANONDA

Prem Tinsulanonda is the president of Vajiralongkorn’s Privy Council. The former army general, 98, has occupied that position for the past two decades, during which he cemented ties between the military and the royal court. He served as prime minister from 1980 to 1988, withstanding two coups and multiple assassination attempts. For many political watchers, Prem remains the face of the royalist-military establishment that reviles the Shinawatras.

While he served as a temporary regent after Bhumibol’s death – before Vajiralongkorn took over – the current king in recent years has appointed his own loyalists to the Privy Council, a move some observers say is aimed at weakening his father’s close confidante.

The king directed the junta to amend a newly drafted constitution that allows him to exercise sovereign powers even when abroad. Vajiralongkorn therefore does not need to appoint Prem as regent when he is in Germany.

The favourite: career soldier Prayuth Chan-ocha. Photo: EPA

The favourite: career soldier Prayuth Chan-ocha. Photo: EPAShare:

PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA

Career soldier Prayuth is the bookmaker’s pick to be prime minister after the March 24 polls, after the candidacy of Princess Ubolratana was vetoed by King Vajiralongkorn.

The 64-year-old is the preferred prime ministerial candidate of the Palang Pracharat Party that is widely viewed as a political vehicle of the junta.

He became an internationally recognised face after orchestrating the 2014 coup against Yingluck Shinawatra – the second anti-Shinawatra coup in the past two decades. Fondly referred to as “Uncle Tu” by his supporters, the junta leader has a reputation for being testy, often skirmishing publicly with probing journalists. He is part of the “Eastern Tigers” bloc of Thailand’s military, otherwise known as the Queen’s Guard.

Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong. Photo: AP

Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong. Photo: APShare:

APIRAT KONGSOMPONG

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong is the newest key player in Thailand’s Game of Thrones. The son of a former junta leader, Apirat was made army chief last September. He leads the King’s Guard bloc of the country’s factionalised military, which over the last two decades has been dominated by Prayuth’s Eastern Tigers. Apirat, analysts say, has the backing of Vajiralongkorn.

In January he was appointed to the Crown Property Bureau, which has holdings of over US$30 billion, according to one estimate. Apirat’s appointment follows Vajiralongkorn’s 2017 decision to give himself full control of the bureau. The army chief last week denied widespread speculation that he and currently active generals were planning a coup against Prayuth’s administration.

Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Photo: Reuters

Thailand’s former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Photo: ReutersShare:

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA

Thaksin Shinawatra, 69, is the singular force behind Thailand’s past two decades of political turmoil. He has undergone multiple career shifts – from police chief to telecoms tycoon, establishment politician, and subsequently populist prime minister. Since going into exile in 2008 – two years after the military staged a coup against him – Thaksin has pulled the strings of the rural-based political movement he started in the 2000s. The movement has won every election since 2001. In the election held after the 2006 coup, his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat led loyalist parties and became prime minister. After a brief period in which pro-establishment forces held power, the Shinawatras again returned to the apex of power – this time with Thaksin’s sister Yingluck as prime minister. It was her government that was toppled in Prayuth’s 2014 coup.

Shinawatra proxies set their sights on Thailand’s economy after failed bid to enlist Princess Ubolratana

While his loyalists paint him as a champion of the poor – pitted against the pro-establishment metropolitan elite – Thaksin’s critics want him out of politics because they say he is corrupt and perpetuated cronyism during his time in power. Some of his critics say he is anti-royalist.

Thailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: Reuters

Thailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Photo: ReutersShare:

YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA

A mere puppet or able deputy? The 51-year-old younger sister of Thaksin has long faced criticism that she is merely a mouthpiece of her more famous brother. Still, with her brother in exile, it was the former businesswoman who held the fort for the Shinawatra movement in the 2011 elections. The Pheu Thai party she helmed – which is also contesting the upcoming March 24 polls – staged a crushing victory. She was prime minister for three years until Prayuth seized power from her. The military staged a coup after widespread discontent at one of Yingluck’s policy moves: a proposal to grant amnesty for those found guilty of political violence in the years after her brother was ousted. It was seen as an underhanded way to allow Thaksin to return home on a clean slate.

She fled Thailand in August 2017 just before she was found guilty of “criminal negligence” while in power – a charge she says was trumped up by Prayuth’s administration. ■ThailandThailand’s JuntaKing Maha VajiralongkornYingluck ShinawatraRoyaltyThai King Bhumibol AdulyadejThai electionsREAD/POST COMMENTS (1)China Economy

Singapore’s January exports to China collapsed in ‘very worrying’ development for both economies

  • Oil and non-oil exports from the city state to the mainland fell dramatically in the first month of the year, the biggest fall since October 2016
  • The decline was led by plummeting electronics sales, sparking fears of a slump in global demand

Finbarr Bermingham  

Updated: Monday, 18 Feb, 2019 4:08pm03

Across the board, Singapore’s non-oil exports plunged 10.1 per cent in January, the third successive monthly decline, while oil exports fell by 3.2 per cent overall. Photo: AFP
Across the board, Singapore’s non-oil exports plunged 10.1 per cent in January, the third successive monthly decline, while oil exports fell by 3.2 per cent overall. Photo: AFP

Across the board, Singapore’s non-oil exports plunged 10.1 per cent in January, the third successive monthly decline, while oil exports fell by 3.2 per cent overall. Photo: AFP

Singapore is feeling the pinch of China’s economic slowdown as exports to the mainland collapsed in January.

Non-oil exports to China showed a dramatic fall in January, crashing by 25.4 per cent, while Singapore’s oil exports to China plummeted by 30.8 per cent, showing a broad-based decline, and sparking concern about the economic prospects of both nations.

Sales of gold to China collapsed by 94.9 per cent, while specialised machinery exports fell 55.2 per cent and measuring instruments fell 40.9 per cent.

Overall, Singapore’s non-oil exports plunged 10.1 per cent in January, the third successive monthly decline, while oil exports fell by 3.2 per cent.

Robert Carnell, chief economist at ING for Asia-Pacific, said “the negative petrochemical result is very worrying”.

Non-oil exports to China showed a dramatic fall in January, crashing by 25.4 per cent, while Singapore’s oil exports to China plummeted by 30.8 per cent. Photo: AFP

Non-oil exports to China showed a dramatic fall in January, crashing by 25.4 per cent, while Singapore’s oil exports to China plummeted by 30.8 per cent. Photo: AFPShare:

“This points to a broad weakness in external demand, with these products ubiquitous in almost all production and packaging,” he said.SUBSCRIBE TO SCMP TODAY: INTL EDITIONGet updates direct to your inboxSUBMITBy registering for these newsletters you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted a 1.6 per cent drop in the non-oil exports sector, showing that the situation is worse than expected.

It also marked the biggest fall off in exports since October 2016.

The non-oil decline was led by a slump in electronics exports, which, on an year-on-year basis, declined by 15.9 per cent.

Within that, there was a 34.3 per cent decrease in personal computer exports.Is Christmas cancelled for Singapore’s trade war-hit companies?

Enterprise Singapore, the government agency for supporting business, put the slump down to a “high base” one year ago, while there are also seasonal issues, including the annual trend that electronics sales decline at the start of the year, as was the case in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

However, there are concerns that Singapore may be heavily exposed to an economic downturn in China, which is its second largest export partner (16 per cent) behind Hong Kong (19 per cent).

The non-oil decline was led by a slump in electronics exports, which, on an year-on-year basis, declined by 15.9 per cent. Photo: Handout

The non-oil decline was led by a slump in electronics exports, which, on an year-on-year basis, declined by 15.9 per cent. Photo: HandoutShare:

Few of the goods imported to Hong Kong are consumed in the city, with a large portion of the 75 per cent that is exported going to China.

Furthermore, Singapore’s economic performance is commonly viewed as a good indicator of the health of the global trading picture, given the country’s heavy reliance on imports and exports.US-China trade war hits Singapore exports

Exports of goods and services were worth 173.35 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, meaning that the value of goods exported from Singapore are far more valuable than what is produced inside the country, reflecting its important status as a shipping, logistics and transshipment hub.

Data from Singapore’s trade ministry released last week showed that the economy grew by 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, down from the 2.4 per cent in the previous three months.

Data from Singapore’s trade ministry released last week showed that the economy grew by 1.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, down from the 2.4 per cent in the previous three months. Photo: AFPShare:

“A sharper than expected slowdown of the Chinese economy could adversely affect the region’s growth due to falling import demand from China, especially given regional economies’ close interlinkages with China through their participation in manufacturing and trade-related services value chains,” the ministry said.

“Against this backdrop, the pace of growth in the Singapore economy is expected to slow in 2019.”

Also released on Monday, Thailand’s GDP growth jumped to 3.7 per cent for the final quarter of 2018, year-on-year, up from 3.2 per cent in the third quarter.

The figure beat a Bloomberg poll of economists, which predicted a rise of 3.6 per cent, but analysts said that Thailand, as with most Asian export hubs, is also vulnerable to the wider slowdown in demand.How a sharp slowdown in China could affect Asian economies

“GDP growth in Thailand picked up in quarter four, but it is likely to struggle for momentum in the quarters ahead due to weaker external demand,” said Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics.

“The key risk to the outlook is the possibility of unrest if the electorate feels it is being denied free and fair elections, expected to be held on March 24.”

Thailand will hold general elections nearly five years after the military seized power for the second time in two decades from the country’s powerful Shinawatra clan.

P.O. (FT) Brussels rejects plea for dual-listed London shares trading

P.O.

Personally, and with no personal gain in it,i would love to see corporate issuers relocate to London, as the article suggets.

In my opinion, the EU has morphed into a non elected organization that has all the ticks of an imperialist dictatorship.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira




(FT) EU asset managers warn they could move to UK because of commission’s stance

(EuroJewCong) Portuguese MEP warns against ‘return’ of antisemitism – European Jewish Congress

(EuroJewCong)

Francisco Assis, a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) political group has warned against the return of antisemitism and the infantilisation of European public discourse in a column for the Portuguese daily newspaper Publico.

Addressing the huge increase in antisemitic incidents in France as one of the most poignant examples of this phenomenon, MEP Assis wrote: “In recent years, French society has experienced a new kind of antisemitism, stemming from Islamic fundamentalist currents and which has benefited from a certain complacency on the anti-Israel currents in the far left. What also seems to have come back is the antisemitism of an avowedly anti-liberal, anti-cosmopolitan, and anti-universalist far-right.”

“It seems that the movement of the yellow vests in France has contributed to the spread of xenophobic and racist positions and to the popularisation of a proto-fascist discourse,” he added, “yet the effects of globalisation and meagre economic growth in France in recent years do not solely explain this phenomenon: There are  economic roots, but there are also important cultural and political causes.”

“I firmly believe that the intellectual and political collapse of moderate currents of thought, in the context of the infantilisation of public discourse, opens the door for the rise of those brutal and infamous ideologies, which have not been strange to us in the past,” Mr. Assis concluded.

(Reuters) Elliott proposes ‘superior’ plan for Portuguese utility EDP

(Reuters) Activist investor Elliott said on Thursday it had proposed a “superior” alternative to shareholders in utility EDP-Energias de Portugal (EDP.LS) than a bid from China Three Gorges, including raising 7.6 billion euros from asset sales.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Portuguese utility company EDP – Energias de Portugal is seen at the company’s offices in Oviedo, Spain, May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso/File Photo

State-owned CTG, which is already EDP’s largest shareholder with a 23 percent stake, launched a 9 billion euro ($10.13 billion) bid for Portugal’s biggest company in May last year.

EDP’s board has rejected the 3.26 euros a share offer as too low.

Elliott said it had written to EDP’s board stating that “CTG’s bid in its current form is not in the best interests of EDP stakeholders and would ultimately leave EDP weaker.”

Elliott also said it represented a shareholding in EDP of 2.9 percent, making it one of the utility’s top ten shareholders.

“Over the course of several months we have devoted considerable time and resources to better understanding the challenges and opportunities facing EDP,” Elliott said.

“Our extensive research convinced us that EDP is an attractive company with substantial unrealised potential.”

EDP declined to comment.

Shares in EDP were 1.45 percent higher at 3.227 euros a share in early trade.

CTG’s bid proposal needs regulatory approval in a number of countries, including Brazil, the United States, Portugal and the European Union.

(IrishTimes) Theresa May suffers Commons defeat over Brexit plan B by 45 votes

(IrishTimes) Some Brexiteers wanted to vote against the government but agreed to abstain

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused British prime minister of “running down the clock” after her Brexit plan B was defeated in the House of Commons. Video: UK Parliament TV

Minutes before the end of Thursday’s Brexit debate, Conservative Remainer Anna Soubry was leaning across the back of the front bench in energetic conversation with Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay.

Moments later, they left the chamber together to negotiate the terms for her to withdraw an amendment that would have obliged the government to publish civil service advice about the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Under a curiosity of parliamentary procedure, if Ms Soubry’s amendment was passed, the government’s main Brexit motion would have fallen without being put to a vote. By withdrawing it, she left the government open to a defeat and exposed the hardline Conservative Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) as the authors of it.

Mr Barclay opened the debate four hours earlier with an attempt to reassure the Brexiteers about the meaning of the motion endorsing the approach to Brexit voted for on January 29th. That day, MPs backed Graham Brady’s amendment offering support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal on condition that the Northern Ireland backstop would be replaced by alternative arrangements to ensure that the Border remains open. 

But they also voted for a non-binding amendment tabled by Conservative Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey which opposed a no-deal Brexit. Former Brexit secretary David Davis wanted an assurance that Britain would leave the EU on March 29th, deal or no deal.

“I am very happy to give . . . that assurance. The cabinet’s position on no deal has been agreed,” Mr Barclay said.

“The Prime Minister has repeated her commitment to the timescale on numerous occasions, including again in her statement this week.”

The Brexit secretary’s statement angered Remainers on both sides of the house and former Conservative chancellor Kenneth Clarke said the government was pandering to the ERG, which he described as “a kind of breakaway party within a party — a bit like Momentum, really — with a leader and a chief whip”.

Labour view on backstop

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the prime minister had failed to secure any of the changes to the Northern Ireland backstop she was seeking. In answer to a question from North Down Independent MP Sylvia Hermon, Sir Keir confirmed that Labour now accepted and supported the backstop.

“Although we have concerns about the backstop, we do accept that there must be a backstop, it is inevitable and that, therefore, notwithstanding those concerns, we support a backstop. That is very important,” he said.

Former Conservative minister Oliver Letwin described the exchanges between the government and Brexiteer backbenchers as “fascinating and rather horrifying” driving him to the conclusion that the prime minister was prepared to leave the EU without a deal.

Mr Letwin said the only way to prevent this “terrifying” course was for MPs on February 27th to back an amendment that would allow them to take control of the Brexit process away from the government.

“Mostly, our country has operated on the principle that its great work is done by governments, and that we in this House have the extraordinary privilege of observing, informing, scrutinising and checking, but do not have to take the ultimate responsibility for those crucial decisions that those of us who have served in Cabinets and in National Security Councils have, from time to time, had to take about what this country does. On 27 and 28 February, if we come to debate that Bill, and in succeeding weeks and months, as we have to legislate for the policy of this country in relation to the EU, all of us in this House will suddenly have to take the awesome responsibility of playing our part in trying to find a way through that enables our fellow citizens to have a secure and prosperous future,” he said.

  While the debate was going on in the chamber, Conservative Brexiteers in the ERG were meeting to agree their strategy. Some wanted to vote against the government but they agreed to abstain and the government was defeated by 45 votes.

  The prime minister left the chamber before the vote was announced and when Jeremy Corbyn taunted the Brexit secretary asking him if he would like to respond to the result, Mr Barclay simply shook his head.

(MW) Roubini calls out the big blockchain lie

(MW)

Blockchain isn’t a transformative technology; it’s just Excel spreadsheets with a misleading name

Bitcoin has lost about two-thirds of its value since December.

By

NOURIELROUBINI

NEW YORK (Project Syndicate) — With the value of Bitcoin BTCUSD, +0.19% having fallen by around two-thirds since its peak late last year, the mother of all bubbles has now gone bust. More generally, cryptocurrencies have entered a not-so-cryptic apocalypse.

The value of leading coins such as Ether ETHUSD, +0.45%  , EOS, LitecoinLTCUSD, +1.42%  , and XRP XRPUSD, -0.01%  have all fallen by over 80%, thousands of other digital currencies have plummeted by 90% to 99%, and the rest have been exposed as outright frauds. No one should be surprised by this: four out of five initial coin offerings (ICOs) were scams to begin with.

Now that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have plummeted from last year’s absurdly high valuations, the techno-utopian mystique of so-called distributed-ledger technologies should be next. The promise to cure the world’s ills through “decentralization” was just a ruse to separate retail investors from their hard-earned real money.

Faced with the public spectacle of a market bloodbath, boosters have fled to the last refuge of the crypto scoundrel: a defense of “blockchain,” the distributed-ledger software underpinning all cryptocurrencies. Blockchain has been heralded as a potential panacea for everything from poverty and famine to cancer.

In fact, it is the most overhyped — and least useful — technology in human history.

In practice, blockchain is nothing more than a glorified spreadsheet. But it has also become the byword for a libertarian ideology that treats all governments, central banks, traditional financial institutions, and real-world currencies as evil concentrations of power that must be destroyed. Blockchain fundamentalists’ ideal world is one in which all economic activity and human interactions are subject to anarchist or libertarian decentralization. They would like the entirety of social and political life to end up on public ledgers that are supposedly “permissionless” (accessible to everyone) and “trustless” (not reliant on a credible intermediary such as a bank).

Yet far from ushering in a utopia, blockchain has given rise to a familiar form of economic hell.

A few self-serving white men (there are hardly any women or minorities in the blockchain universe) pretending to be messiahs for the world’s impoverished, marginalized, and unbanked masses claim to have created billions of dollars of wealth out of nothing. But one need only consider the massive centralization of power among cryptocurrency “miners,” exchanges, developers, and wealth holders to see that blockchain is not about decentralization and democracy; it is about greed.

For example, a small group of companies — mostly located in such bastions of democracy as Russia, Georgia, and China — control between two-thirds and three-quarters of all crypto-mining activity, and all routinely jack up transaction costs to increase their fat profit margins. Apparently, blockchain fanatics would have us put our faith in an anonymous cartel subject to no rule of law, rather than trust central banks and regulated financial intermediaries.

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A similar pattern has emerged in cryptocurrency trading. Fully 99% of all transactions occur on centralized exchanges that are hacked on a regular basis.And, unlike with real money, once your crypto wealth is hacked, it is gone forever.

Moreover, the centralization of crypto development — for example, fundamentalists have named Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin a “benevolent dictator for life” — already has given lie to the claim that “code is law,” as if the software underpinning blockchain applications is immutable.

The truth is that the developers have absolute power to act as judge and jury. When something goes wrong in one of their buggy “smart” pseudo-contracts and massive hacking occurs, they simply change the code and “fork” a failing coin into another one by arbitrary fiat, revealing the entire “trustless” enterprise to have been untrustworthy from the start.

Lastly, wealth in the crypto universe is even more concentrated than it is in North Korea. Whereas a Gini coefficient of 1.0 means that a single person controls 100% of a country’s income/wealth, North Korea scores 0.86, the rather unequal United States scores 0.41, and Bitcoin scores an astonishing 0.88.

As should be clear, the claim of “decentralization” is a myth propagated by the pseudo-billionaires who control this pseudo-industry. Now that the retail investors who were suckered into the crypto market have all lost their shirts, the snake-oil salesmen who remain are sitting on piles of fake wealth that will immediately disappear if they try to liquidate their “assets.”

As for blockchain itself, there is no institution under the sun — bank, corporation, non-governmental organization, or government agency — that would put its balance sheet or register of transactions, trades, and interactions with clients and suppliers on public decentralized peer-to-peer permissionless ledgers.

There is no good reason why such proprietary and highly valuable information should be recorded publicly.

Moreover, in cases where distributed-ledger technologies — so-called enterprise DLT — are actually being used, they have nothing to do with blockchain. They are private, centralized, and recorded on just a few controlled ledgers. They require permission for access, which is granted to qualified individuals. And, perhaps most important, they are based on trusted authorities that have established their credibility over time.

All of which is to say, these are “blockchains” in name only.

It is telling that all “decentralized” blockchains end up being centralized, permissioned databases when they are actually put into use. As such, blockchain has not even improved upon the standard electronic spreadsheet, which was invented in 1979.

No serious institution would ever allow its transactions to be verified by an anonymous cartel operating from the shadows of the world’s authoritarian kleptocracies. So it is no surprise that whenever “blockchain” has been piloted in a traditional setting, it has either been thrown in the trash bin or turned into a private permissioned database that is nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet or a database with a misleading name.

(JN) Portugal bate novo recorde com 12,76 milhões de turistas em 2018

(JN)

Portugal recebeu 12.762.532 turistas estrangeiros em 2018, atingindo um novo recorde.

Tiago Varzimtiagovarzim@negocios.pt14 de fevereiro de 2019 às 11:12O turismo português pode celebrar mais um recorde: o número de turistas estrangeiros cresceu 0,4% face a 2017, atingindo um novo recorde. Ao todo, Portugal recebeu 12,76 milhões de turistas estrangeiros em 2018, acima dos 12,71 milhões registados no ano transato. Os dados foram divulgados esta quinta-feira, 14 de fevereiro, pelo Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE).

Apesar de ter alcançado um novo recorde, 2018 foi um ano de travagem no dinamismo do turismo, pelo menos do lado da procura externa. O número de turistas estrangeiros que chegaram a território nacional cresceu 0,4%, uma subida tímida face à subida de 12% que se tinha registado em 2017 (face a 2016).

Agregando turistas residentes com os não residentes, Portugal ultrapassou pela primeira vez a marca de 21 milhões de turistas (hóspedes), o que reflete um crescimento de 1,7% face ao ano anterior. Em 2017, o turismo português tinha superado os 20 milhões de turistas pela primeira vez. 

A contribuir de forma decisiva para este desempenho em 2018 do turismo nacional esteve a dinâmica do mercado interno: o número de turistas residentes cresceu 3,9%, superando os oito milhões de hóspedes (8,3 milhões). O ritmo de crescimento foi inferior ao de 2017 (4,8%), mas a travagem foi menor do que a dos não residentes. 

Em termos brutos, o número de turistas não residentes aumentou 51 mil ao passo que o número de turistas residentes subiu 308,7 mil em 2018, face a 2017. 

No entanto, o próprio INE nota que “considerando a evolução das dormidas na hotelaria nos últimos anos, constata-se que entre 2008 e 2018 as dormidas de residentes cresceram 28,2% e as de não residentes aumentaram 56,1%”. Ou seja, não há dúvida de que na última década foram os turistas estrangeiros a puxar pelo turismo de Portugal.

Dormidas e estada média dos estrangeiros registam queda, mas proveitos aumentam
Em 2018, o número de dormidas de não residentes baixou 2% assim como a estada média (-2,4%), um desempenho que contrastou com o aumento desses indicadores nos turistas residentes (5% nas dormidas e 1,1% na estada média).

Por tipo de estabelecimento, as dormidas caíram nos hotéis-apartamento e nos outros alojamentos turísticos, tendo crescido nas restantes categorias.

Apesar disso, o rendimento médio por quarto disponível evoluiu de forma positiva, tendo os proveitos totais superado os 3,6 mil milhões de euros, mais 6% face ao ano anterior. Esta evolução representa uma travagem face ao aumento de 16,8% dos proveitos totais registado em 2017.

Mercado britânico e alemão registam quedas
Já se antecipava uma queda do Reino Unido e esta concretizou-se: as dormidas de hóspedes britânicos diminuíram 7,5% em 2018, perdendo quota de mercado. Apesar disso, o mercado britânico continua a ser o maior do turismo nacional.

O segundo maior mercado, o alemão, também registou uma queda (-4,3% em 2018). O quarto maior mercado, o francês, desceu 2,7%. Juntam-se ainda as quedas de países com menor emissão de turistas como a Polónia (-15,4%), a Holanda (-11,4%) e a Dinamarca (-7%). 

No total, o número de dormidas de não residentes caiu. Mas houve mercados que ampararam essa queda. É o caso de Espanha – o terceiro maior mercado – em que as dormidas subiram 1,9% e do Brasil que registou um crescimento de 9,4%. O mercado norte-americano subiu 19,9%. 

(JN) Portugal paga juro mais baixo de sempre para emitir dívida a 10 anos

(JN)

O IGCP colocou 1.000 milhões de euros em títulos de dívida a 10 e 15 anos. Os juros voltaram a baixar, sendo que no prazo a 10 anos a taxa foi a mais baixa de sempre.

A Agência de Gestão da Tesouraria e da Dívida Pública (IGCP) realizou esta manhã um duplo leilão de títulos de dívida a 10 e 15 anos, tendo suportado um custo de financiamento mais baixo do que nas operações anteriores. O objetivo passava por emitir entre 750 e mil milhões de euros.

O IGCP colocou 705 milhões de euros em títulos a 10 anos (maturidade a 15 de junho de 2029), oferecendo uma taxa de rendibilidade de 1,568%. Este é o juro mais baixo de sempre para emitir dívida a 10 anos, sendo que o anterior mínimo tinha sido fixado em maio de 2018, com uma taxa de 1,67%. Na emissão de dívida sindicada no início do ano, o IGCP suportou um juro de 1,95%. No último leilão de dívida a 10 anos, realizado em novembro de 2018, a taxa ficou em 1,908%.

A taxa que o instituto liderado por Cristina Casalinho suportou na emissão desta quarta-feira está inclusivamente abaixo do que está a ser praticado no mercado secundário. A taxa de juro das obrigações do Tesouro que os investidores estão a trocar entre si está hoje em 1,606%. No mercado primário a anterior taxa mais baixa de sempre tinha sido fixada em maio nos 1,67% quando o IGCP emitiu 483 milhões de euros. A segunda foi em julho, quando colocou títulos a 10 anos com uma taxa de 1,727%.  

Já no leilão de obrigações a 15 anos (maturidade a 18 de abril de 2034), foram colocados 295 milhões de euros e a taxa ficou nos 2,045%, o que também compara de forma favorável com a última operação similar. A anterior emissão a 15 anos ocorreu em julho de 2018, da mesma linha da realizada hoje, tendo sido emitidos 300 milhões de euros com um juro de 2,257%.

Esta descida adicional nos custos de financiamento de Portugal reflete o comportamento recente no mercado de dívida soberana da Zona Euro, que tem assistido a uma descida das “yields” uma vez que os sinais de abrandamento da economia europeia devem travar a normalização da política monetária por parte do Banco Central Europeu. 

“Apesar de estarmos numa altura em que assistimos a um abrandamento económico que levou as taxas das dívidas soberanas na Europa cair face aos valores que estavam no final do ano, o IGCP acaba por tirar partido deste momento de mercado para emitir dívida com sucesso”, refere Filipe Silva, do Banco Carregosa.


Além da taxa de juro ter sido a mais baixa de sempre, a procura subiu, o que demonstra o apetite dos investidores por dívida portuguesa. Na emissão a 10 anos a procura superou a oferta em 2,17 vezes, quando na emissão de novembro o rácio foi de 1,91 vezes. No leilão de títulos a 15 anos a procura superou a oferta em 2,29 vezes (2,79 vezes na emissão anterior).  

Ainda hoje o banco de investimento JPMorgan aconselhou os investidores a reforçarem as suas posições na dívida pública de Portugal, caso vendam títulos da dívida espanhola, considerando que a dívida portuguesa é um bom refúgio perante a incerteza política que se vive em Espanha. 

O plano de financiamento do IGCP para este ano prevê que Portugal emita 15,4 mil milhões em 2019, o que representa um aumento de 400 milhões de euros face ao que esperava emitir no ano passado. As emissões vão combinar “sindicatos e leilões, assegurando emissões mensais”, explicou o organismo liderado por Cristina Casalinho no início de janeiro. Uma fatia relevante deste montante já foi angariado, com o IGCP a aproveitar o bom momento do mercado para realizar várias emissões.