Daily Archives: October 27, 2011

USA: Oceaneering Generates 3Q Net Income of USD 78.6 Million


Oceaneering International, Inc.  today reported third quarter earnings for the period ended September 30, 2011. On revenue of $602 million, Oceaneering generated net income of $78.6 million, or $0.72 per share.

These results include an $18.3 million pre-tax gain, $11.9 million after tax using an incremental tax rate of 35%, on the previously announced sale of the Ocean Legend, a mobile offshore production system. Also, the third quarter results included a lower provision of income taxes due to recognition of $4.9 million of tax benefits principally related to prior years.

Oceaneering reported revenue of $516 million and net income of $59.2 million, or $0.54 per share, for the third quarter of 2010. For the second quarter of 2011, Oceaneering reported revenue of $546 million and net income of $56.7 million, or $0.52 per share.

Quarterly earnings were also higher year over year on the strength of record quarterly operating income from Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Subsea Products. Sequentially, Oceaneering’s quarterly EPS increase was attributable to improved operating income from four of its five business segments: ROV, Subsea Products, Subsea Projects and Advanced Technologies.

M. Kevin McEvoy, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are very pleased with our record EPS for the quarter, particularly in light of regulatory-constrained activity in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Our overall operations performed within expectations and we remain on track to achieve record EPS for the year.

“Compared to the second quarter of 2011, ROV operating income increased on the strength of higher international demand to provide drill support and vessel-based services. Our quarterly ROV days on hire increased to an all-time high of over 19,000 days. Subsea Products operating income rose on profit increases from most of our product lines, led by increased sales of valves and Installation and Workover Control System services. Subsea Products backlog at quarter-end was $403 million, comparable to our June 30 backlog of $405 million and up from $308 million one year ago.

“Sequentially, Subsea Projects operating income was higher due to the gain on the sale of the Ocean Legend and a slight seasonal increase in demand for our diving services. Advanced Technologies operating income improved on higher demand from the U.S. Navy to perform engineering services and submarine repair work.

“We are adjusting our 2011 EPS guidance range to $2.11 to $2.15, from $1.90 to $1.98, to reflect our third quarter results and our EPS outlook for the fourth quarter of $0.48 to $0.52, based on an expected quarterly tax rate of 31.5%. We continue to anticipate that our ROV and Subsea Products segments will achieve record operating income in 2011.

“We are initiating 2012 EPS guidance with a range of $2.35 to $2.55, as we expect another record earnings year. For our services and products, we anticipate continued international demand growth and a moderate rebound in overall activity in the GOM. The major determinant of our guidance range spread is the amount of operating income growth we generate from our Subsea Projects business.

“Compared to 2011, we anticipate all of our segments will have higher operating income results in 2012; ROV on greater service demand off West Africa and in the GOM and Subsea Products on the strength of higher tooling sales and increased throughput at our umbilical plants. For Subsea Projects, we foresee a gradual recovery in the GOM during 2012 and a substantial increase in revenue and operating income as a result of an anticipated international expansion of our deepwater vessel project capabilities.

“Looking beyond 2012, our belief that the oil and gas industry will continue to invest in deepwater projects remains unchanged. Deepwater remains one of the best frontiers for adding large hydrocarbon reserves with high production flow rates at relatively low finding and development costs. With our existing assets, we are well positioned to supply a wide range of the services and products required to support safe deepwater efforts of our customers.”


Sea Axe – The Workboat Of Billionaires


By John Konrad On October 27, 2011

Could the world’s most desirable mega-yacht be an oil field workboat in disguise?

This week an armada of boats lay siege on Fort Lauderdale for the year’s largest boat show and, like models during fashion week, countless mega-yachts arrive daily with hopes of seducing a billionaire to sleep in her cabin. But, for one exceptional beauty, this is not the goal.

With a sharp chiseled bow softened by elegant curves the Sea Axe is a genuine head turner. Her looks are unique and stunning but, unlike most other yachts of her type, they also serve a function enabling her to cut through chop and blaze down the face of a following sea at high speed. Even more intriguing is her lineage. The latest in a line of workboats designed by Damen Shipyards, her unique shape is based off the Fast Crew Supplier, a workboat developed  to service oil rigs in the rough waters of the North Sea. This fact, combined with her natural beauty, is what most intrigues the world’s wealthier individuals.

The Sea Axe FYS (Fast Yacht Support), as she is named, is not designed to be the primary yacht of billionaires. Instead she is designed as an elegant work horse capable of both turning heads and carrying the toys of her wealthy owners. The Sea Axe’s generous deck space provides plenty of room for a launch boat, jet skis, automobiles and a helicopter.

In addition to toys  the Sea Axe can also carry fuels, consumables, waste and extra staff. In short, the Sea Axe lets owners make the most of their luxury megayacht experience by acting as a floating storage room for extra people and stuff. And she is fast capable of speeds up to 28 knots with a sailing range of 5,000 nautical miles (at 18-knots).

In the Christopher Guest-directed comedy, Best in Show, one character is continuously approached by men she once slept with.  The details of her pre-marital love affairs, combined with her wardrobe of scant lycra pull-ups, leads her neurotic husband to compare her to “a cocktail waitress on an oil rig.”

One day the lucky owner of Sea Axe may be similarly dismissive but, this week in Fort Lauderdale, this working class girl of Aberdeen is truly the best in show.


This Is What American Needs To Do To Win The Global Jobs War


Jim Clifton

To win the jobs war, America needs to be the best in the world not only at entrepreneurship and innovation, but also at customer science.

The country simply cannot win new jobs unless it uses the most advanced sciences in the world to create billions of new global customers.

Simply put, new global customers create new U.S. jobs. That’s why America needs to more than triple exports in the next five years — or continue on a downward slide. The battle for global customers will be the defining element in the new war for jobs and GDP growth.

Whoever sells the goods and services, and whoever owns the companies that own the customers, wins. The United States needs to average a minimum 10% annual increase in exports over the next 30 years to maintain its leadership of the free world.

The big advantage China has over the United States right now is that China wins customers with low prices. This strategy really can work — not great, but OK for a while — because as long as America invents the new products and innovations, it can produce them for the first iteration and create millions of great jobs. But when China evolves to understanding customers and their needs better than U.S. companies do, the United States loses its advantage.

If America allows China — or India or anyone else — to get further into behavioral economics and customer science than it does, the country will lose the jobs war. That is what Toyota, Volkswagen, and other automakers did to U.S. car companies.

They won by simply listening to customers better and then delivering what customers wanted at fair prices. America cannot afford to concede the science of customer insights or customer-centric innovations to China or any other foreign competitors or it risks losing to them. This is a “game over” moment for America.

Why? Because if those countries learn to provide better service and meet customers’ needs better, then customers won’t need U.S. retailers and supply chains to deliver products. China will set up its own retailers and supply chains, and God help America if that were to happen. Its best retailers, shops, banks, car dealers, restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and even movie theaters would be Chinese owned and controlled, which means that the best cash flows, margins, and stock values all become foreign owned.

There has already been a trend lately toward foreign-business takeovers, and the effects have been economically and psychologically devastating in headquarter cities. Belgian-based conglomerate InBev bought American icon Anheuser-Busch. When that happened, a little bit of St. Louis died. Brazilian-backed 3G Capital acquired Burger King, and a little bit of Miami died.

When a national oil company in Venezuela bought out CITGO, a little bit of Houston died. When the Arcapita Bank, formerly First Islamic Investment Bank, bought a majority of Caribou Coffee, a little bit of Minneapolis died. No question, when foreign companies take over American businesses, something changes. Americans feel somehow that they’re not what they used to be.

This might sound controversial to some Americans, but they should all love Walmart, no matter what particular beef they might have with the company. If it weren’t for Walmart eating up all the little corner grocers and hardware stores, the Germans, Japanese, French, and for sure the Chinese would have.

Somebody will come do it better. Walmart, Target, and Costco should be applauded for leading the way in reinventing retailing in America because if they hadn’t, foreign companies would have. Right now the big box stores are worried about the “dollar stores.” That’s great — Americans want Americans competing against other Americans.

The flip side of great performers like Walmart, Target, and Costco is poorly run companies. They’re job killers, especially in their headquarter cities. Local firms, big or small, that are bad with customers will be cannibalized by outside companies. The most dangerous outside companies, as far as your city is concerned, are foreign. Jobs appear in combination with customers and GDP growth and then again in combination with American ownership and control.

You might think I’m an advocate of protectionism. I am not. Quite the opposite, I am 100% pro trade, pro competition, and pro law of the jungle. By no means do I think America should erect barriers against foreign-owned companies.

Leaders have yet to learn that relationships trump price in almost all businesses, from hair salons to high-tech consulting.

The solution isn’t to avoid competition, but to take it head-on. Americans have to know more about American customers and all customers in the world than Europeans do, and especially more than the Chinese, Brazilians, and Indians do. The country that best knows the needs and preferences of all 7 billion customers will have a prohibitive advantage in winning the world’s best jobs.

Sure, companies should do a great job of executing Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, reengineering, TQM, and so on. These practices all work and are essential to winning, but they are no longer enough. I don’t know about your organization, but Gallup has squeezed the last drop out of most of these brilliant practices, all to its great benefit. But the low-hanging fruit of improving processes and efficiency has all been picked. What remains untapped is the incalculable opportunity within the emotional economy of customers.

In fact, one of the biggest blind spots in most American businesses is that they don’t realize how big the emotional economy is within their own customer base worldwide. The best corporate leaders in the United States are still unaware that they are leaving a great deal of money on the table through abysmal execution of the employee-customer links because they are so focused on the “hard numbers,” of which they have already squeezed every dollar to diminishing returns.

You and your teams can double and quadruple exports and foreign sales by increasing the number of your current customers who give you a 5 for partnership on a 1-5 scale. Let’s assume that 20% of your customers give you a top score, which is about the global average. By raising that number to 40%, you will experience record sales increases without spending a nickel more on advertising and marketing. You grow, America grows, jobs grow.

From my 40 years of studying customers, this represents the biggest missed opportunity of all organizational leadership — probably because it is easier for leaders to talk a good game and then at the end of the day, just cut their price, falling back to the rule of classical economics that every decision is rational, which is not true.

What customers at any level really want is somebody who deeply understands their needs and becomes a trusted partner or advisor. The business world fails at managing this one most critical behavioral economic variable more than any other, but it remains the lowest hanging fruit for organic growth for virtually all businesses.

Leaders have yet to learn that relationships trump price in almost all business circumstances, from hair salons to high-tech consulting. He who most deeply understands the customer’s needs tends to win and always gets the highest margins. That’s why talent and relationships can almost always beat low price — they inspire customer engagement. To measure customer engagement, these are the best 11 questions Gallup scientists have found to ask customers anywhere in the world:

CE1. Taking into account all the products and services you receive from them, how satisfied are you with (Company) overall?

CE2. How likely are you to continue to do business with (Company)?

CE3. How likely are you to recommend (Company) to a friend or associate?

CE4. (Company) is a name I can always trust.

CE5. (Company) always delivers on what they promise.

CE6. (Company) always treats me fairly.

CE7. If a problem arises, I can always count on (Company) to reach a fair and satisfactory resolution.

CE8. I feel proud to be (a/an) (Company) customer.

CE9. (Company) always treats me with respect.

CE10. (Company) is the perfect company/product for people like me.

CE11. I can’t imagine a world without (Company).


The Energy Revolution That Keeps Carbon on Top


By Nathan Myhrvold

A remarkable thing happened in Silicon Valley during the past decade. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs set their sights on clean energy as the Next Big Thing. They audaciously hoped to reinvent energy by harnessing the incredible innovation that had transformed information technology and biotechnology.

Some of the best venture capitalists in the business, including my friends Bill Joy and Vinod Khosla, detached from their computing roots and focused on energy startups. The result was a staggering surge of capital into clean-energy technologies. Worldwide, from 2006 to 2010, about $535 billion in venture capital, private equity and initial public offerings as well as mergers and acquisitions flowed into 4,236 clean-tech businesses, according to a recent analysis by GlobalData.

Venture-capital investing is inherently high-risk, so it shouldn’t surprise or bother anyone that many of these startups failed — some rather spectacularly. Solyndra LLC, the solar- cell company, for example, went bankrupt even after receiving a $535 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department. But similar failures happened during the dot-com bubble. Remember pets.com and its infamous sock-puppet TV ads?

What is worrying is that almost a decade of energy investing hasn’t produced any home runs — no green-energy equivalents of eBay, Amazon, Google or Facebook. The modest, incremental advances we have seen don’t perceptibly move the needle on the energy problem.

That’s not to say there aren’t good companies that swear they are just about to produce their miracle; in fact, my own company has spawned a startup — called TerraPower — that has developed a pretty amazing set of advanced technologies for nuclear energy. Let’s hope a few of us turn out to be right.

One Real Breakthrough

In the meantime, however, a real revolution has happened in traditional energy — one that poses a serious challenge to companies and investors betting on alternative energy. This breakthrough is arguably one of the greatest advances in energy production since the 1960s. And it came not from a Silicon Valley company, or from MIT or Stanford, but from the son of a Greek goatherd who immigrated to the U.S.

George Mitchell was born in Galveston, Texas, went to Texas A&M University and, in 1946, founded an oil-drilling and real- estate business. The company did well, and in the 1980s, Mitchell decided to take on a major technical challenge: He would try to coax gas out of a portion of the Barnett shale, which lies deep under Fort Worth and 15 counties in north- central Texas.

People told Mitchell he was wasting his money; you can’t squeeze blood from a stone, and you can’t squeeze oil or gas out of shale, which is essentially fossilized mud. Huge amounts of natural gas have formed in layers of shale, but it’s trapped within the rock and doesn’t flow toward a borehole.

The same is true of vast gas deposits that are stuck in coal beds too deep to mine, and gas that saturates spongelike sandstones and other semiporous rocks. Pulling out this “tight gas,” as drillers call it, is like trying to suck a thick milkshake through a thin cocktail straw or to breathe through a pillow.

But Mitchell was stubborn. He and his roughnecks doggedly tinkered with a variety of long-known techniques that had never been used in combination. One of these was horizontal drilling, which originated in the 19th century, was adapted for oil production by the Soviets in the 1930s and was perfected by oil drillers in the 1980s.

Cracking the Rock

A second idea was to inject fluid into the rock to fracture it into lots of pieces, thus allowing the gas and oil inside to flow more easily. In 1865, Colonel Edward Roberts, a Civil War veteran, demonstrated (and patented) the use of explosive nitroglycerin for this purpose — which worked amazingly well, but was quite dangerous. By the 1940s, engineers had developed a gentler approach that uses high-pressure water and chemicals rather than explosions to break up the rock. It became a standard practice for some oil, gas and water wells.

A third technique that Mitchell tried was adding sand to the water to help prop open the cracks that formed in the rock. Together these approaches, collectively called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” allowed drillers to inexpensively recover gas from the tight Barnett shale. Mitchell earned nothing for developing the technology, but his company went on to make a lot of money on gas leases.

A great many others in the energy industry have done the same, as the arrival of fracking unlocked enormous deposits of shale gas, tight gas and coal-bed methane across the U.S. and in other countries as well. Mitchell’s miracle has more than doubled the known reserves of natural gas.

The new resources are so vast that they would last for a century at current rates of gas consumption. And this cheap form of energy isn’t under the control of a foreign dictator, stuck in the Arctic or submerged miles below the sea — it lies in the farmlands of New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The location turns out to be something of a mixed blessing; yes, these places are secure and politically stable, but they are also home to not-in-my-backyard activists who claim fracking threatens to pollute groundwater, in some cases to the point where flames will spew from people’s shower heads.

Industry experts says that is unlikely because the gas- containing rock typically lies 2 miles or more underground, in strata that are geologically isolated from groundwater. However, any form of natural-gas production can produce some environmental issues because it must be piped to the surface, and gas sometimes leaks into groundwater through breaks in the pipe, or through abandoned wells.

Another problem is that the water pumped underground for fracking gets contaminated in the process, and much of that waste comes back up and must be stored. As for the rare flaming faucet, it’s hard to tell whether fracking is to blame, because the same regions where this technique is most profitable tend to have shallower, natural deposits of gas that can contaminate groundwater without any help from industry.

Energy vs. Environment

So far, scientific evidence has not clearly linked the fracking procedure itself to groundwater contamination. But if there is anything we learned from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, it is that any technology that produces energy in large quantities poses some environmental risk. So as a society, we face an interesting question: Would we rather depend for our energy on distant suppliers in the Mideast and elsewhere? Or is it better to produce the energy ourselves and accept the risk of creating some messes in our backyards?

Before answering that, it’s important that we understand a few other important caveats to Mitchell’s gas miracle: First, natural gas is not as useful as oil. Although some cars and buses run on natural gas, their range is limited because, even in its compressed form, natural gas doesn’t have the energy density of gasoline or diesel fuel. Also, you can’t use natural gas very efficiently for boats or airplanes. So until researchers come up with a cheaper gas-to-liquid conversion process, we will still need oil for some things.

A more serious problem is that both collecting and burning natural gas produce carbon dioxide, the main culprit in global warming. Gas producers never miss a chance to point out that burning gas emits less CO2 than burning coal does. But detailed research (including some of my own) shows that, in practice, switching from coal-fired electricity plants to gas-fired ones would have almost no effect on global warming. In fact, some scientists who have tried to do a full accounting of the emissions due to gas produced by fracking have concluded that it actually ends up putting more CO2 into the atmosphere than coal does.

What’s more, cheap gas just reinforces our use of carbon- based energy. New technologies are always risky and — as George Mitchell found — they almost never work perfectly from the start. So investors need an incentive to take that risk. Getting an alternative-energy technology off the ground is much easier if the price of conventional energy is high, either because it is taxed or because the fuel is genuinely scarce.

A carbon tax could provide this price incentive, but with the world teetering on the edge of financial ruin, the political appetite for new taxes has evaporated.

Not so long ago, many people believed that the cost of oil and gas would rise indefinitely, thus supporting the market for alternatives. Mitchell’s miracle has changed that calculus, much to the chagrin of the Silicon Valley venture capitalists who caught the green-energy bug.

(Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief strategist and chief technology officer at Microsoft Corp. and the founder and chief executive officer of Intellectual Ventures, is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

–Editors: Mary Duenwald, David Henry.


More Details On American billionaire George Soros, Who Funds the Fall of Museveni


27 October 2011
By Our Reporter

In our yesterday’s story, “NEW PLOT TO OVERTHROW MUSEVENI LEAKS”, we informed you of an American billionaire George Soros who reportedly has interests in Uganda’s oil and who funds civil society organizations and opposition parties to bring down President Museveni’s government.

We have now established more information on billionaire George Soros ;

Soros sits on the executive board of an influential “crisis management organization” that recently recommended the U.S. deploy a special advisory military team to Uganda to help with operations and run an intelligence platform, a recommendation Obama’s action seems to fulfill.

The president emeritus of that organization, the International Crisis Group, is also the principal author of “Responsibility to protect,” the military doctrine used by Obama to justify the U.S.-led NATO campaign in Libya.

Soros’ own Open Society Institute is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, a doctrine that has been cited many times by activists urging intervention in Uganda.

Authors and advisers of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, including a center founded and led by Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, also helped to found the International Criminal Court.

Several of the doctrine’s main founders also sit on boards with Soros, who is a major proponent of the doctrine.

Soros also maintains close ties to oil interests in Uganda. His organizations have been leading efforts purportedly to facilitate more transparency in Uganda’s oil industry, which is being tightly controlled by the country’s leadership.

Soros’ hand in Ugandan oil industry

Oil exploration began in Uganda’s northwestern Lake Albert basin nearly a decade ago, with initial strikes being made in 2006.

Uganda’s Energy Ministry estimates the country has over 2 billion barrels of oil, with some estimates going as high as 6 billion barrels. Production is set to begin in 2015, delayed from 2013 in part because the country has not put in place a regulatory framework for the oil industry.

A 2008 national oil and gas policy, proposed with aid from a Soros-funded group, was supposed to be a general road map for the handling and use of the oil. However, the policy’s recommendations have been largely ignored, with critics accusing Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni of corruption and of tightening his grip on the African country’s emerging oil sector.

Soros himself has been closely tied to oil and other interests in Uganda.

In 2008, the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute brought together stakeholders from Uganda and other East African countries to discuss critical governance issues, including the formation of what became Uganda’s national oil and gas policy.

Also in 2008, the Africa Institute for Energy Governance, a grantee of the Soros-funded Revenue Watch, helped established the Publish What You Pay Coalition of Uganda, or PWYP, which was purportedly launched to coordinate and streamline the efforts of the government in promoting transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

Also, a steering committee was formed for PWYP Uganda to develop an agenda for implementing the oil advocacy initiatives and a constitution to guide PWYP’s oil work.

PWYP has since 2006 hosted a number of training workshops in Uganda purportedly to promote contract transparency in Uganda’s oil sector.

PWYP is directly funded by Soros’ Open Society as well as the the Soros-funded Revenue Watch Institute. PWYP international is actually hosted by the Open Society Foundation in London.

The billionaire’s Open Society Institute, meanwhile, runs numerous offices in Uganda. It maintains a country manager in Uganda, as well as the Open Society Initiative for East Africa, which supports work in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Open Society Institute runs a Ugandan Youth Action Fund, which states its mission is to “identify, inspire, and support small groups of dedicated young people who can mobilize and influence large numbers of their peers to promote open society ideals.”

Soros group: Send military advisors to Uganda

In April 2010 Soros’ International Crisis Group, or ICG, released a report sent to the White House and key lawmakers advising the U.S. military run special operations in Uganda to seek Kony’s capture.

The report states, “To the U.S. government: Deploy a team to the theatre of operations to run an intelligence platform that centralizes all operational information from the Ugandan and other armies, as well as the U.N. and civilian networks, and provides analysis to the Ugandans to better target military operations.”

Since 2008 the U.S. has been providing financial aid in the form of military equipment to Uganda and the other regional countries to fight Kony’s LRA, but Obama’s new deployment escalates the direct U.S. involvement.

Soros sits in the ICG’s executive board along with Samuel Berger, Bill Clinton’s former national security advisor; George J. Mitchell, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader who served as a Mideast envoy to both Obama and President Bush; and Javier Solana, a socialist activist who is NATO’s former secretary-general as well as the former foreign affairs minister of Spain.

Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is the ICG’s senior advisor.

The ICG’s president emeritus is Gareth Evans, who, together with activist Ramesh Thakur, is the original founder of the Responsibility to protect doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”

Both Evans and Thakur serve as advisory board members of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, the main group pushing the doctrine.

As WND first exposed, Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect.

Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

Samantha Power, Arafat deputy

Meanwhile, a closer look at the Soros-funded Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect is telling. Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

WND was also first to report the committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Also, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy has a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect. The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “responsibility to protect” while defining its guidelines.

The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.

With Power’s center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to protect doctrine.

Power reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya, widely regarded as test of Responsibility to protect in action.

In his address to the nation in April explaining the NATO campaign in Libya, Obama cited the doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”

The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various United Nations-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops who commit alleged “war crimes” overseas.


ISDA: We Can’t Tell You If The Greek Bond Swap Will Trigger A Credit Event Yet


Simone Foxman

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association — responsible for determining when a credit event (that would trigger credit default swap payouts) occurs — just updated its Q&A on Greek sovereign debt to account for the newest changes to the private sector bond swap discussed last night.

Their prognosis? If the swap is indeed voluntary, then there won’t be a credit event, even with haircuts of 50%.

But the likelihood that most bondholders will agree to those kinds of losses without significant coersion is slim. Numbers on participation when that haircut was just 21% were at best around 85%, under the 90% Greece demanded.

The ISDA says it can’t make a final decision on whether or not there will be a credit event until a formal decision is made:

UPDATE OCTOBER 27: The determination of whether the Eurozone deal with regard to Greece is a credit event under CDS documentation will be made by ISDA’s EMEA Determinations Committee when the proposal is formally signed, and if a market participant requests a ruling from the DC. Based on what we know it appears from preliminary news reports that the bond restructuring is voluntary and not binding on all bondholders. As such, it does not appear to be likely that the restructuring will trigger payments under existing CDS contracts. In addition, it is important to note that the restructuring proposal is not yet at the stage at which the ISDA Determinations Committee would be likely to accept a request to determine whether a credit event has occurred.

Read their full Q&A on Greek sovereign debt here.


Here’s What Europe Just Agreed To Do About Its Banking Crisis


Simone Foxman

For the majority of a nerve-wracking summit that dragged on more than 10 hours, from 6 PM CET Wednesday to 4 AM CET Thursday morning, all attempts at progress to stem the crisis appeared to hit a wall.

But EU leaders finally made a breakthrough.

At 3:30 AM CET, we heard that they were closing talks with bank representatives on “voluntary” 50% haircuts on holdings of Greek bonds. Then we started hearing about leverage, and suddenly — at 4 AM CET (10 PM EST) — we finally got word of some agreement.

So here’s the rundown of what leaders decided (EU leaders were still pretty vague about all the numbers, however, citing estimates for most things):

– 50% haircuts on private holdings of Greek bonds through 2020. Evidently this will still be voluntary. It would cut Greece’s debt by €100 billion ($139 billion). German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU leaders aim to see the credit swap take place in January.

– Leverage will increase the firepower of the European Financial Stability Facility by 4-5 times, to somewhere in the range of €1 trillion ($1.4 trillion).

– China and the IMF could play a huge role in the bailout. Not only has the IMF expressed interest in playing a role, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters that he will call Chinese Premier Hu Jintao around midday tomorrow, presumably to discuss this.

– Greece will receive €130 billion ($180 billion) in fresh aid. We’re thinking this includes the nearly €110 billion ($150 billion) it was promised back in July.

– EU leaders believe Italy’s commitment to debt sustainability and encouraging growth, even though Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi didn’t propose any new measures to accomplish these goals in a letter he wrote to some members of the summit today.

– The European Banking Authority estimates that only €106 billion ($147 billion) in funding will be needed to recapitalize European banks and help them meet capital requirements of 9%. Turns out it didn’t actually conduct new stress tests accounting for adverse scenarios this time around. European Council President Herman van Rompuy told reporters that banks must reach this 9% ratio with only the “highest quality capital.” We’re hoping he means Tier 1 capital and will not allow banks to use riskier convertible bonds to meet this number.

– We aren’t likely to see a final roadmap on EU treaty changes until March 2012.

– A statement from the summit can be found here.

Clearly there’s still a lot more progress to be made towards truly solving the crisis. None of these steps alone — or even altogether — will do that, not to mention that the numbers we’re seeing here have not all been written in stone. Indeed, until we see EU authorities start to execute some of these proposals, it will be difficult to bank on their success.

That said, the fact that EU leaders actually made (at least preliminarily) plans on a lot of the issues they said they would — particularly after all the negative news today and earlier this week — will reassure markets that these leaders are indeed capable of accomplishing something when pressed.

Looking forward, we will be looking to see EU leaders make good on these proposals, without diluting them to ineffectiveness. In particular, treaty changes — probably the most controversial of any measures we’ve heard discussed thus far — will be key to actually mending the broken bones of the euro area.


You Have Just Witnessed The Death Of Developed Market CDS


Macro Man

Like many derivatives products dreamed up by Wall Street’s financial innovators, the Developed Market (DM) Sovereign Credit Default Swap (CDS) market was borne out of the desire to transfer risk off the books of banks to investors suited to managing those risks. Following the successful establishment and effectiveness of risk transfer in the corporate CDS market, the onset of the Asian Financial Crisis spurred growth in trading in Credit Default Swaps on Emerging Market countries’ debt. However, legal documentation issues relating to the 1998 Russian bond default hinted at the structural problems embedded in the contracts, subsequently confirmed when the economically coercive 2001 Argentinean so-called “Mega-Swap” did not trigger CDS. Indeed, even though Argentina eventually repudiated its debt unilaterally, many protection buyers’ swaps had already expired by then, and trading volumes in EM CDS fell substantially, only really recovering post the 2003 overhaul of ISDA’s rulebook.

It is then, perhaps, surprising that despite proven complications related to the terms under which EM Sovereign CDS would pay out that market participants extended the concept to cover Developed Market Sovereigns in 2006. Arguably, along with its siblings ABS CDS, made famous by Hedge Fund manager John Paulson’s multi-billion dollar bet against the US Subprime market, trading in DM CDS took off as a way to hedge the risk of countries who had been forced to assume the liabilities of their banking systems coming under pressure themselves. But as with earlier EM-specific non-triggers, the Icelandic government’s decision to put its banks into administration in November 2008 rather than default on its own debt, resulted in its CDS falling from as wide as 1400bps to current levels closer to 320bps. The LSE’s Professor Willem Buiter, a former Bank of England MPC member, in early-2009 asked the question “Is the London Reykjavik on Thames?”, leading to CDS on the UK to spike to as high as 166bps, but this sparked many to point out that the UK’s debt was denominated in Sterling, which the Bank of England could print an unlimited amount of. A month later, in March 2009 the Bank of England’s decision to purchase £75bn in its Asset Purchase Programme seemed to support this view, despite a second widening of UK CDS in the run up to the 2010 General Election as investors worried about the UK government’s commitment to its medium term solvency.

Nevertheless, the incoming PASOK-led Greek government revealed in November 2009 that the country had under-reported its deficits, triggering the onset of the Eurozone crisis, and Greek CDS began to widen, culminating in the April 2010 EU/IMF bailout of Greece, and a month later, in the face of contagion to other European government bond markets, the establishment of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). An explosion in trading of DM CDS on Eurozone peripheral countries’ debt ensued as hedge funds sought to speculate upon the likelihood of an eventual Greek default and banks sought to hedge their exposures to those countries built up over the preceding decade.

Inevitably, faced with the political cost of bailing out foreign countries, European politicians lashed out at the CDS market, blaming it for breeding panic and allowing speculators to “bet” against bond markets and the Euro. As seen in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, banks under pressure, along with politicians, blamed short sellers and speculators for spreading rumours and exacerbating the situation, while speculators argued that the market was merely “the messenger”, pointing to fundamental problems with balance sheets. As financial market pressures became ever more severe, European policymakers resorted to short selling bans and attempted to implement a ban on CDS trading. The debate continues to rage over whether the CDS market caused or exacerbated the Eurozone crisis, or whether the crisis was inevitable.

But what eventually killed the Developed Market Credit Default Swap market in the end, was the agreement with the Institute of International Finance (IIF), representing banks owning Greek bonds, to accept a 50% haircut on their holdings. The possibility that despite such a large haircut on Greece’s debt, that CDS contracts would not trigger, led many investors and bank hedging desks to question the value of their CDS contracts. The repercussions soon spread, as those institutions that believed they had hedged their bond holdings, or bet upon a Greek default, rushed to sell their contracts before the price collapsed. Volumes soon collapsed as it became evident that developed market governments had the ability to force their banks into taking haircuts without rewarding what they view as speculators.

Developed Market CDS soon faded into history alongside Perpetual Floating Rate Notes, Libor-cubed Notes, Asset Backed Collateralised Debt Obligations, War Loans, Endowment Mortgages and other financial products that were found wanting.


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