Media Navel Gaze: March 9, 2015

Mark Kollar  Follow

The Week Unpeeled

The US economy continued to show signs of strength with the monthly employment report last week as non-farm payroll rose 295,000 in February, marking the best 12-month run in 10 years; the unemployment rate fell to 5.5%. All good in large part (wages are still weak, however), but analysis focused on the tough predicament for the Fed amid speculation that the zero-rate policy will soon give way to higher rates. Stay tuned for volatile markets, no doubt.

Elsewhere:

  • Hillary Clinton's use of personal email for State Department business continues to make for prickly headlines ("Stuck in Scandal Lane," WSJ Peggy Noonan, "Declarations" column), heating up a practice that is counter to government policy;
  • Apple became part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the largest company in the world now by market value; Apple also saw its smartphone sales top Samsung's, a first in the last four years, but its mobile pay system hit by fraud;
  • The Dow itself, meanwhile, staged one of its largest sell-offs last week to end Friday at 17,856; earlier in the week Nasdaq closed over 5,000, the first time in 15 years;
  • Former NBC News chief Andy Lack is back at the network amid a C-suite shake up;
  • Goldman Sachs is planning to launch its own messaging service this summer called Symphony for Wall Street communications and social networking;
  • Google is planning a wireless service;
  • Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu comes down hard at the UN calling the Obama Iran plan a "bad deal"; and
  • Bieber turned 21 and Kim turned blonde.

LATAM GAZE Politics

  • Thousands took to the streets in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week to protest an asset sale from Petrobras that will close a major naval port and cut up to 180,000 jobs. The protesting group marched directly to Petrobras' headquarters in an effort to start a dialogue with the firm's new senior leadership, whom they say is operating unilaterally in how the state-owned company is run.
  • Peru has temporarily removed its ambassador from the Peruvian embassy in Chile after Chile failed to properly address sovereign espionage allegations regarding Peruvian intel.
  • Longtime Colombian guerilla group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and Colombia's government this week agreed to begin de-mining parts of Colombia as part of ongoing peace talks between the two institutions. The Norwegian People's Aid and Cuba are mediating peace discussions among both parties.
  • Starbucks took some heat this week from Colombian legislators after reneging on its original promise, upon entering the Colombian market last summer, to exclusively serve coffee made from Colombian coffee farms, which would have boosted the local economy. This issue could evolve as global coffee prices continue their decline.

Economy

  • Brazilian Finance Minister Joaquim Levy secured R$3.1 billion to support utility companies for the third time in less than a year with the intention of controlling inflation.
  • Uruguay is advancing legislation granting private institutions the right to offer payday loans, opening more credit lines and creating a new competition channel for banks.

Markets

  • BlackRock's Larry Fink while in Mexico this week reiterated his optimism in the region's economic potential, but warned that social and political unrest is still an issue that needs to be accounted for. BlackRock is one of the most influential investors in the Mexican Stock Exchange.
  • Colombian oil titan Ecopetrol replaced CEO Javier Gutiérrez with Juan Carlos Echeverry, Colombia's former finance minister, after a period of lackluster performance from the company due to falling global oil prices.

Legal Hermann Von Mühlenbrock, president of Chilean union Sofofa, applauded Chile's judicial division for their investigative work in "Pentagate", which has led to allegations against top officials at Penta, one of Chile's largest financial services companies, for improper political donations and potential falsification of financials. End of Story

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